THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT ARTICLE
The present members of the Governing Body have devalued and restricted the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ by denying that Jesus by his death bought all the descendants of Adam and that each one must get a personal chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. On the contrary, they claim that a great part of Adam’s descendants will be eternally annihilated without having had this chance. This includes the 8 billion+ who are living when the great tribulation comes, and who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In the 20th century, the view of the Watchtower literature consistently was that Jesus by his death made a ransom sacrifice for all Adam’s descendants. (1 Timothy 2:6) At present, the view of the Governing Body is that Jesus did not die for all Adam’s descendants, but for all sorts of Adam’s descendants, for those who will be saved.
If Jesus died for all Adam’s descendants, all of them must have a chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. By reducing the numbers of those who will be resurrected, against the view of the 20th century, even explaining away the words of Jesus that the inhabitants of Sodom, Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida will get a resurrection, the present members of the Governing Body have devalued and restricted the ransom sacrifice. Their teachings imply that not all of Adam’s descendants will get the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. The doctrines of the present members of the Governing Body regarding the ransom sacrifice and the resurrection are false teachings.
An important point in the discussion below is that The Christian Greek Scriptures mention only one group that will be eternally annihilated, namely. those who have sinned against the holy spirit. This includes 1) those who directly have acted in opposition to the holy spirit, as some Pharisees and scribes did, and 2) Christians who by their word or their actions have discarded the ransom sacrifice.
No passage in the Christian Greek Scriptures says that ignorant persons or persons who are wicked because they are ignorant will be eternally annihilated, as the members of the Governing Body claim.
1 Timothy 2:6 says that the ransom is for “all” (pas) while Matthew 20:28 says that the ransom is for “many” (polys). I show that both Greek words refer to all the descendants of Adam.
Paul shows in Romans 6:7 that the death of a person acquits him of all his previous sins. This means that those who get a resurrection will be judged according to what they do on Judgment Day, which is 1,000 years long, and not what they did before they died.
Wrong actions based on inherited sin can be forgiven. But sin against the holy spirit cannot be forgiven. Both the Pharisees and Scribes and the inhabitants of Chorazin, Capernaum, and Betsaida heard the preaching of Jesus and saw his miracles, and they rejected him. Some of the Scribes and Pharisees sinned against the holy spirit, while the inhabitants of the mentioned cities will get a resurrection.
Most of the people who have lived have not had the opportunity to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. Therefore, they will have a resurrection to get this chance. These include:
(1) Most persons who lived between Adam and Jesus, including those who died in the worldwide flood and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorah.
(2) Most of the people who lived in the first century CE, including the inhabitants of Chorazin, Capernaum, and Betsaida, who rejected Jesus.
(3) Most of the people who lived between Jesus and the 20th century.
(4) Most of the people who lived in the 20th century.
(5) Most persons who have lived and who live in the 21st century.
Today, there are 2 billion children between 1 and 14 years and 800 million people with mental health problems. Most of these 35% of the world population do not have the capacity to accept the ransom sacrifice. Most of the 4.6 billion inhabitants in Asia have not had the chance to learn the truth about God and his Son. If we add the 1 billion children and 400 million with mental health problems outside Asia to the 4.6 billion in Asia, we get 6,0 billion persons who have not had the opportunity to learn the truth about God. This is 75% of the world’s population.
A great part of people living outside Asia has not had a chance to accept the ransom sacrifice. Because the world population increases by 140 million each year and Jehovah’s Witnesses increase by 300,000, the ratio between Kingdom preachers and the world population gradually will increase year by year. So, when the great tribulation starts more than 75% of the world population have not had the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. This means that all these people will be present in the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ, which is Judgment Day.
The teaching of the Governing Body that 8 billion+ persons will be annihilated forever in the great tribulation is tantamount to a rejection of God’s righteousness and love, as well as devaluing and restricting the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ
A Witness who read the article “The implementation of the elder arrangement was a blessing — the creation of the Governing Body has been a disaster” had the following comment: When I see that the decisions of the Governing Body have led to sickness, pain, and even death of thousands of Witnesses I wonder about the concept of “Jehovah’s organization.” Where is Jehovah’s organization and what is its purpose? I have been taught that in order to survive the great tribulation, one has to be baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses or be a child of a Witness. It seems that the consequence of this is that 20 million+ will survive the great tribulation and 8 billion+ will be eternally destroyed. This is an idea that is difficult to fathom because it does not conform with Jehovah’s personality and the words of Jesus that God loves the world of mankind so much that he sent his Son as a ransom sacrifice.
THE CORRESPONDING RANSOM OF JESUS CHRIST
One of the basic doctrines of the Bible Students in the time of Russell and of Jehovah’s Witnesses is the doctrine of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. But sad to say, in recent years, this doctrine has been devalued and restricted. The two main passages in the Christian Greek Scriptures dealing with the ransom sacrifice of Jesus are Matthew 20:28 (above) and 1 Timothy 2:5, 6 (below).
28 Just as the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his life as a ransom (lytron) in exchange (anti) for many (polys).”
5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself a corresponding ransom (antilytron) for all (pas)—this is what is to be witnessed to in its own due time.
The Greek word antilytron is correctly translated by the expression “corresponding ransom,” which means that the ransom had exactly the same value as that which was redeemed. And this value was the perfect human life of Jesus corresponding to the perfect human life of Adam. In Matthew 20:28 the Greek word lytron without the prefixed preposition anti is used. However, this preposition anti is immediately following lytron as lytron anti, so the idea of a “corresponding ransom” is also expressed in Matthew 20:28.
In 1 Timothy 2:5, 6 we read about “the corresponding ransom for all (pas),” but in Matthew 20:28 we read about “a ransom in exchange for many (polys).” Is there a difference in meaning here between “all” (pas) and “many” (polys)?
According to Mounce, the meaning of polys is “great in magnitude or quantity, much, large, many.” It is important to note that polys and pas may view the same situation from two different angles, and the two words do not exclude each other. Romans 5:15 illustrates the issue. Paul uses the word polys (“many”) both for all the descendants of Adam who will die and for all that are included in the ransom sacrifice:
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if by one man’s trespass many (polys) died, how much more did the undeserved kindness of God and his free gift by the undeserved kindness of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound to many (polys)!
The meaning of the expression “many died” (aorist active) is seen in verse 17 where we read, “for if by the trespass of one man death ruled as king through that one.” All Adam’s offspring were subjugated to death. The Watchtower of August 1, 1973, page 465, has some interesting comments on the use of the word polys:
9 This teaching of the ransom brings to our attention two families—the family of Adam and the family of Jesus Christ. Both families are described as being “many.” (Rom. 5:15) There is no special requirement for becoming one of Adam’s sinful family. All are born into it by the natural procreative process. But, concerning what Jesus did, it is written: “For even the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Mark 10:45; Matt. 20:28) How “many”? As we have already seen, he gave himself “a corresponding ransom for all.” He tasted death “for every man.” (1 Tim. 2:5, 6; Heb. 2:9) During the past six thousand years, Adam’s family has multiplied into the billions. Christ purchased them all.
On the background of the points above, we see that polys (“many”) in Matthew 20:28 does not refer to a group that is less in numbers than “all,” but to all Adam’s descendants.
THE RANSOM INCLUDES ALL ADAM’S DESCENDANTS
I have looked at all references to Matthew 20:28 and 1 Timothy 2:6 in the Watchtower Online Library for the 20th century, and the same viewpoints have been presented: The ransom sacrifice means that Jesus by his death bought all descendants of Adam, but according to John 3:36, only those who “exercise faith in Jesus” will get everlasting life on the basis of the ransom sacrifice. The view was also consistent that the “many” in Matthew 20:28 and the “all” in 1 Timothy 2:6 refer to all the descendants of Adam. Below I bring some quotations to that effect:
The Watchtower of April 15, 1972, page 237, says:
18 Jesus knew that he had to die as a man. Otherwise, he could not become a ransom sacrifice for all mankind. To his twelve apostles he said: “The Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matt. 20:28) To this end he must die innocent, the righteous for the unrighteous. He must sacrifice his human life forever and let its value go in behalf of all mankind. He died without children, and nobody on earth can claim natural descent from Jesus Christ. He sacrificed his perfect human life and parenthood as a corresponding ransom for all mankind.
Awake! of June 8, 1973, page 8, says:
But not all of Adam’s offspring are of the same mind as was Adam. Many of these do have a love of righteousness, and yet, seemingly, they are no better off than Adam. But not so; there will be a difference and that is because of God’s provision of a resurrection. God in his goodness provided that his Son should ransom humankind that had been sold, as it were, to sin and death by the disobedience of Adam. (Rom. 5:12) This Jesus did by coming to earth, being born as a human and then laying down his life for humankind. By thus purchasing the human race, Jesus opened the way for removal of the legal disability resting upon mankind and now he has the right to raise mankind from death.—Matt. 20:28; 28:18.
The Watchtower of April 1, 1974, page 200, says:
Christ Jesus provided this. As he himself said: “The Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matt. 20:28) Since our first father, Adam, lost for us perfect human life, Christ Jesus ransomed what Adam lost, doing so for the human race, thereby opening the way for them to regain perfect life. He did this by paying over his own perfect human life as an exchange of equal value. Yes, “one man died for all,” a fact made possible because he was a perfect man, born on earth by God’s power, his life having been transferred from heaven to the womb of the virgin girl Mary.—2 Cor. 5:14; 1 Tim. 2:5, 6; Luke 1:34, 35.
The Watchtower of March 15, 1990, page 4, says:
Jesus came “to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Mark 10:45) But who are the “many”? Adam is evidently excluded because he was a perfect man who deliberately chose to disobey God and died as an unrepentant, willful sinner. But what about his large family, numbering into the thousands of millions? With a corresponding price, Jesus Christ offsets the inherited condemnation resting on Adam’s family.(Compare 1 Timothy 2:5, 6.) In behalf of the “many” believers, Jesus applies the merit of his redemptive price.
The Watchtower of March 15, 2000, page 3, says:
When Adam sinned and was sentenced to death, his as yet unborn offspring were still in his loins and therefore died with him. The perfect man Jesus, “the last Adam,” willingly did not produce a family. (1 Corinthians 15:45) He had unborn offspring in his loins when he died as a perfect human sacrifice. Therefore, it might be said that the potential human race within his loins died with him. Jesus took Adam’s sinful, dying family as his own. He gave up the right to have a family of his own. By sacrificing his perfect human life, Jesus repurchased all mankind descended from Adam so that they could become His family, making Him their “Eternal Father.”—Isaiah 9:6, 7.
The quotations above show that the view during the 20th century was that Jesus bought all Adam’s descendants by his death.
THE DEVALUATION OF THE RANSOM SACRIFICE
The focus of this study is how Jehovah God views all the descendants of Adam and whether each one of them will get the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. The quotations in the previous section show that the answer to this question is Yes. All Adam’s descendants are bought by Jesus, and each individual must get a personal chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. However, the first hint of a negative answer of which I am aware is found in Insight on the Scriptures (1988), volume II, page 791:
Some Not Resurrected. While it is true that Christ’s ransom sacrifice was given for mankind in general, Jesus indicated that its actual application nevertheless would be limited when he said: “Just as the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Mt 20:28)
The quotation says that “the ransom sacrifice was given for mankind in general.” And this accords with the views of the 20th century that I have quoted above. But the new view is that the word “many” (polys) in Matthew 20:28 does not refer to all Adam’s descendants. And The Watchtower of July 15, 2014, page 30, argues that the word “many” only refers to those who will benefit from the ransom, and it does not refer to all Adam’s descendants. This is a devaluation of the ransom sacrifice because it implies that it was only given for those who will be saved
As Jesus explained, he came, “not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his life as a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matt. 20:28) The “many” who would benefit from Jesus’ ransom were not to be limited to repentant Jews. Rather, it is God’s will that “all sorts of people should be saved,” since the ransom “takes away the sin of the world!”—1 Tim. 2:4-6; John 1:29.
This new view is also expressed in the online article “Bible questions answered,” page 104:
Correspondence. Jesus’ sacrifice corresponds exactly to what Adam lost—one perfect human life. (1 Corinthians 15:21, 22, 45, 46) The Bible says: “Just as through the disobedience of the one man [Adam] many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one person [Jesus Christ] many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19) This explains how the death of one man can pay the ransom for many sinners. In fact, Jesus’ sacrifice is “a corresponding ransom for all” those who take the steps necessary to benefit from it.—1 Timothy 2:5, 6.
The conclusion of “Bible questions answered” is that “the corresponding ransom for all” only is for those “who take the steps necessary to benefit from it.” This means that the word “all” in 1 Timothy 2:6 now has the restricted meaning of “many.” The study note in the online NWT13 of 1 Timothy 2:4 confirms this new view:
all sorts of people: While the Greek expression used here may more literally be translated “all people,” the rendering “all sorts of people” is appropriate because of the context. (For other examples, see study notes on Joh 12:32; Ac 2:17.) God wants all people “to attain to repentance” (2Pe 3:9), so he impartially offers salvation to everyone, regardless of their gender, ethnic background, financial status, or social position. (Mt 28:19, 20; Ac 10:34, 35;17:30) However, the Scriptures clearly indicate that many people will reject God’s invitation and will not be saved. (Mt 7:13, 21; Joh 3:16, 36; 2Th 1:9) So the rendering “all sorts of people” is in harmony with those verses. A similar rendering is also appropriate in the preceding verses, where Paul urges fellow Christians to pray “concerning all sorts of men, concerning kings and all those who are in high positions.”—1Ti 2:1, 2.
If the words of 1 Timothy 2:6, “who gave himself as a corresponding ransom for all sorts of people”— are applied only “for those who take the step necessary to benefit from it,” what is the meaning of the expression “corresponding ransom.”? What do “all sorts of people”— “those who take the necessary steps to benefit from the ransom” correspond to? This question shows the fallacious logic behind this new view. The truth is, as the quotations above from the Watchtower literature until the year 2000 show: Adam sold all his descendants under sin, and Jesus bought all the descendants of Adam with his sacrifice. He did not only die for those who will be saved, but he died for all Adams descendants.
I do not hesitate to say that this new view of the Governing Body is a false teaching because it devalues and restricts the ransom sacrifice. I suspect that this new view was formed to support the view that several billion humans will be eternally annihilated in the great tribulation. If these persons are bought by the sacrifice of Jesus, they must have a personal chance to accept or reject the sacrifice. This chance is given by being taught about it and being offered the ransom sacrifice, as Romans 10:13-17 shows. However, as I will demonstrate below, most of the persons who live when the great tribulation starts, will not have had the mentioned personal chance to accept the ransom sacrifice. This means that these people cannot be eternally annihilated if they are bought by Jesus. But if the corresponding ransom only includes those who will be saved, all the others need not get a personal chance and can be eternally annihilated.
Let us now return to the study note of 1 Timothy 2:6, looking at it from a linguistic point of view. At the end of the study note we read:
The Greek word pas has the following meanings: “all, every, all sorts of; all kinds of, all other.” The word can refer to universality, to every individual of a group, or to every kind or sort of something. The word can also refer to “all other” as in Luke 21:29 where Jesus speaks of the fig tree and all other (pas) trees.
The procedures followed by Bible translators is to use the basic meaning of a word if the context does not show a more restricted meaning. In connection with some of the references in the study note of 1 Timothy 2:4 this principle is followed. According to John 12:32, Jesus will not draw “all men” to himself but “all sorts of men.” And according to Acts 2:17, God will not pour out his spirit of “all flesh” but on “all sorts of flesh.”
The basic meaning of pas is “all; every,” and the other alternative meanings mentioned above are specialized meanings. A Bible translator should only use the specialized meaning when the context clearly indicates this meaning.
EXCURSUS OF THE MEANING OF PAS IN THE LETTERS TO TIMOTHY
A list of all the occurrences of pas in 1 Timothy follows:
1:15 This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full (pas) acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these, I am foremost.
2:1, 2 First of all (pas), then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made concerning all sorts of men (pas), 2 concerning kings and all those who are in high positions, so that we may go on leading a calm and quiet life with complete godly devotion and seriousness (pas).
2:4 whose will is that all sorts of people (pas) should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.
2:6 who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all (pas) —this is what is to be witnessed to in its own due time.
2:8 So I desire that in every (pas) place the men carry on prayer, lifting up loyal hands, without anger and debates.
2:11 Let a woman learn in silence with full (pas) submissiveness.
3:4 a man presiding over his own household in a fine manner, having his children in subjection with all (pas) seriousness.
3:11 Women should likewise be serious, not slanderous, moderate in habits, faithful in all (pas). things.
4:4 For every (pas) creation of God is fine, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,
4:8, 9 For physical training is beneficial for a little, but godly devotion is beneficial for all (pas) things, as it holds promise of the life now and the life that is to come. 9 That statement is trustworthy and deserves (pas) full acceptance.
4:15 Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them, so that your advancement may be plainly seen by all (pas) people.
5:2 to older women as mothers, to younger women as sisters, with all (pas) chasteness.
5:10 having a reputation for fine works, if she raised children, if she practiced hospitality, if she washed the feet of holy ones, if she assisted the afflicted, if she devoted herself to every (pas) good work.
5:20 Reprove before all (pas) onlookers those who practice sin, as a warning to the rest.
6:1 Let those who are under the yoke of slavery keep on considering their owners worthy of full (pas) honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may never be spoken of injuriously.
6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts (pas) of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.
6:13 Before God, who preserves all things (pas) alive, and Christ Jesus, who as a witness made the fine public declaration before Pontius Pilate, I give you orders
6:17 Instruct those who are rich in the present system of things not to be arrogant, and to place their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God, who richly provides us with all the things (pas) we enjoy.
2 Timotheus 1:15 You know this, that all (pas) the men in the province of Asia have turned away from me, including Phy·gelʹus and Her·mogʹe·nes.
I have written pas in red where I take the meaning to be “all,” and in 6:10, the only place where I see the meaning “all sorts of,” is written in blue. I make some comments in connection with particular occurrences.
The translators of NWT13 have “all sorts of people” in the last occurrence of pas in 2:1. There is nothing in the context indicating that the basic meaning “all” of pas should not be used. The reason for the prayers is that Christians should “go on leading a quiet and calm life.” Because of this Paul exhorts Timothy to pray for “kings and all those who are in high positions” because these have the power to influence the life of the Christians.
But because kings and persons in high positions are mentioned, will that not support the translation, “all sorts of”? No. We can compare this verse with the use of pas in 2 Timothy 1:15. Paul says that, “all the men in the province of Asia turned away from me.” Does the word “all” refer to every person in the province of Asia? No, it refers to persons in the province of Asia in the Christian congregations there. In a similar way, Paul exhorts Timothy to pray for “all men,” not all men in the whole world but all men who have the power to cause or prevent the Christians “leading a calm and quiet life.”
But what about Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2:4?
I put my question in the negative in order to illustrate the issue: Is it God’s will that some people will not be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of the truth? That is, of course, not God’s will. He wants that all people shall be saved, and that was the reason why he sent Jesus to the earth to buy “all Adam’s descendants.” This means that the rendering “all sorts of people” does not have any support in the textual context or in the doctrine about the ransom sacrifice.
Please consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:10-14:
10 See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my Father who is in heaven. 11 ——12 “What do you think? If a man has 100 sheep and one of them strays, will he not leave the 99 on the mountains and set out on a search for the one that is straying? 13 And if he finds it, I certainly tell you, he rejoices more over it than over the 99 that have not strayed. 14 Likewise, it is not a desirable thing to my Father who is in heaven for even one of these little ones to perish.
Jesus speaks about a person who has strayed from God’s truth, and his words show that God cares for this person and does not want anyone to perish. Jehovah is not only interested in persons who have strayed from the truth. But Peter shows that he wants all people in the world to gain salvation. We read in 2 Peter 3:9:
Jehovah is not slow concerning his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire anyone to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.
In The Watchtower of August 1, 1970, page 472, we read:
The inspired apostle John wrote that “God is love,” and the apostle Paul states that love “hopes all things.” (1 John 4:8; 1 Cor. 13:4, 7) It is in harmony with this outstanding divine quality that God should exercise a genuinely open, kindly attitude toward all persons, desirous of their gaining salvation, until they prove themselves unworthy, beyond hope. (Compare 2 Peter 3:9; Hebrews 6:4-12.) Thus, the apostle Paul speaks of the “kindly quality of God [that] is trying to lead you to repentance.”—Rom. 2:4-6.
The view of the leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1970 was that Jehovah was “desirous of their [all persons] gaining salvation.” This is a correct view, and the view of the present Governing Body that Jehovah only “will is that all sorts of people should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth” is wrong. That this is a false teaching is clearly shown in 2 Peter 3:9. In 2 Timothy 2:4, the Greek word pas must have its basic universal meaning. God wants that all Adam’s offspring will be saved. But many will use their free will to turn against God, so they will not be saved.
In order to continue the discussion above, it is also clear that the Greek word pas must have the basic universal meaning in 1 Timothy 2:6. Because Jesus is the “corresponding ransom” (antilytron), his ransom must include all the descendants of Adam, and not only all sorts of the descendants of Adam. The word pas in the basic universal sense is also used in 2 Corinthians 5:15 (above) and Hebrews 2:9 (below).
14 For the love the Christ has compels us, because this is what we have concluded, that one man died for all; so, then, all had died. 15 And he died for all so that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised up.
9 But we do see Jesus, who was made a little lower than angels, now crowned with glory and honor for having suffered death, so that by God’s undeserved kindness he might taste death for everyone.
The NWT13 renders the Greek word pas in Timothy 2:6 as “all,” but as shown above, the study note has the alternative “all sorts of.” The reference to Matthew 20:28 with the word “many” which The Watchtower of July 15, 2014 applied to those who will be saved, and the study note of 1 Timothy 2:4, indicates that the view of the members of the Governing Body is that Jesus gave himself as a corresponding ransom “for all sorts of men” and not for all Adam’s descendants. As I have mentioned above. this a false teaching.
|The true view of the ransom sacrifice:
Jesus died for all descendants of Adam and bought all those by his death. Each one must get a personal chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. (The Watchtower of August 1, 1973, and Insight on the Scriptures, volume I, page 854)
The false view of the ransom sacrifice:
Jesus died only for those who will be saved, for “all sorts of men” and not for “all men.” (The Watchtower of July 15, 2014)
A reader of this article sent me an illustration showing the fallacious logic of the Governing Body. This is an excellent illustration, and I copy it below:
We can illustrate the Governing Body’s flawed paradigm that Jesus’ sacrifice is aimed at only “all sorts of people,” instead of a “corresponding ransom for all people,” using the historical event of the sinking of the Titanic.
On its maiden voyage, the ship had been touted to be unsinkable. So confident were its builders of its unsinkability that the Titanic was equipped with only enough lifeboats to save “many” passengers, but not “all” of them. We cannot go back and read the minds of the irresponsible engineers who designed the ship with such built-in limitations. But if we were to apply the Governing Body’s reasoning for the limitations it has placed on Jesus’ ransom — that Jehovah ‘willed’ or designed the ransom to save only “all sorts of people,” but not all of them — to the limited lifesaving protocols of the Titanic, what might that reasoning look like?
For example: Did the engineers of the Titanic reason that in the event of a worst-case scenario, persons in the lower decks and bow of the ship would simply not be able to get out in time, and so why should lifeboats be provided for these unsavable passengers? Did the designers reason that even if a ship-wide alarm was sounded, neither the deaf, blind, mentally challenged, nor those in wheelchairs would be able to “take the steps necessary to benefit” from the alarm and make it to the lifeboats in a timely manner to survive? So why provide enough lifeboats for these either?
Can we also imagine the ship builders putting in place an emergency alert protocol that called for only a limited number of stewards to go only to certain decks but not all, to knock on a few cabin doors but not all, and to shout a warning down the hallways of some decks but not all, in hopes that at least “all sorts of people” occupying those cabins but not all, would hear the warning so as to “take the steps necessary to benefit from it”?
And here is one that likely most of us cannot imagine the architects of Titanic contemplating: That in the event of a disaster, ship stewards can knock on only a couple of cabin doors on each deck to alert them of the danger, but not all the doors. However, if the occupants of those cabins do not believe the warning and do not notify the other passengers on their deck, all such ones on that deck deserve to go down with the ship due to deck “community responsibility”! And since people in general tend not to respond to warnings anyway, only so “many” lifeboats will be needed. So why provide enough lifeboats to accommodate “all” passengers? It is only being realistic to expect that only “all sorts of” of passengers on the ship can be saved and not “all” of them. Therefore, this should be the ultimate goal of the life- saving protocols.
THE READER’S COMMENTS
Note that the illustration shows that it is one thing to say that it is possible, or even likely, that not all passengers would heed the warnings and avail themselves of the lifeboats provided, but quite another to engineer a rescue plan that by design provides an inadequate amount of lifeboats–a plan that is designed to only save “all sorts of” passengers, yes “many” passengers, but not “all” of them. If the mentioned reasoning in the illustration sounds unconscionable to you, you are not alone. And yet, this is in effect what the current Governing Body is saying Jehovah has done in connection with the life-saving provision of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. Indeed, it is one thing to recognize that not everyone will likely avail themselves of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, but quote another to say that “its actual application nevertheless would be limited,” as the aforementioned Insight article claims.
The two mentioned contrasting views may on the surface appear to be saying the same thing, but a careful scrutiny of their true meanings will show that they are saying two very different things: The first view recognizes that Jehovah provided “a corresponding ransom for all”. In other words, the ransom is designed to cover “all” of Adam’s descendants and will, therefore, be applied in such a manner as to give each one of Adam’s offspring a real chance to survive—at least a minimum chance- — i.e., there are plenty of lifeboats for everyone! On the other hand, the Governing Body is teaching something quite different. It says that the ransom is only aimed at those who will be saved. The “actual application” of the ransom is predetermined to be limited by God, i.e., the amount of lifeboats provided are by design, limited. Saving everyone is not the goal or objective.
Indeed, the current Governing Body is saying that when this system of things goes down in destruction at the coming great tribulation, upwards of 8 billion people will go down with that “ship”! Yes, people who live out of reach of God’s people and their ransom message, children who are too young to understand and appreciate the means for salvation, persons with physical challenges, and those with mental deficiencies that may limit their ability to receive the ransom message, as well as many other persons who have not been adequately exposed to the truth in order to make an informed decision to accept the ransom. And some of these people along with others who seem to fall between the cracks of Jehovah fairness, justice, and love have been written off to be annihilated due to the GB’s catch all net of eternal destruction resulting from “community responsibility.”
. The members of the Governing Body do not say that God will apply “community responsibility” in connection with those who will be eternally annihilated in Armageddon. But they open for this possibility. Community responsibility means that some persons will be eternally annihilated because they belong to a certain group or family and that each person will not have had the possibility to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. Just the pointing to such a possibility is a devaluation of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus and its value.
THE RANSOM SACRIFICE GUARANTEES A RESURRECTION FOR ADAM’S DESCENDANTS
Calculations regarding how many persons have lived on the earth are of course uncertain. I have looked at ten different calculations, and the numbers given are between 80 billion and 120 billion. The Watchtower of April 1, 1982, page 20, calculated that in 1982 between 14 and 20 billion persons have lived on the earth. This calculation takes into account the information from the Bible that Adam was created about 6,000 years ago and that the worldwide flood killed all the people on the earth except Noah and his family. Therefore, this calculation is more accurate than those that do not take the information from the Bible into account. The rate of new births each year is about 140 million, and if we multiply this number with 40 years, we see that about 5.6 billion people have been born between 1982 and 2022.
On the basis of the calculations, we can assume that between 21 and 27 billion people have lived on the earth since Adam was created about 6,000 years ago. According to the words of Paul in 1 Timothy 2:5, 6 all these are bought by Jesus Christ. In its discussion of God’s foreknowledge, Insight vol. I, page 854, argues that if God had decided beforehand who would be saved, “it could not truly be said that the ransom was made available to all men. (2 Co 5:14, 15; 1Ti 2:5, 6; Heb 2:9)” Then Revelation 22:17 is quoted:
Let anyone hearing say: ‘Come!’ And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.
The situation that is outlined by Insight is in other words that any descendant of Adam must get a personal opportunity to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. But most of the 21 to 27 billion persons who have lived on this earth have never had this personal opportunity.
SOME WILL NOT GET A RESURRECTION
It is clear that not all persons who have lived on the earth will get a resurrection. Jesus said according to Luke 20:35:
but those who have been counted worthy (kataksioō) of gaining that system of things and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.
The words of Jesus show that not all persons who have lived will get a resurrection. The word kataksioō that is translated as “counted worthy of” does not indicate that it is difficult to get a resurrection. This is seen in Acts 5:41 where we read that the apostles were rejoicing because they were “counted worthy of being dishonored in behalf of this Name.” The meaning here is that the apostles were allowed to be dishonored, and that was something they appreciated.
The real issue is that all of Adam’s offspring who are bought by Jesus Christ must get the opportunity to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. We must therefore conclude that persons who deliberately have rejected the ransom will not get a resurrection. But what does that mean? What does it mean that a person has got a personal chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice?
In the original text of the Christian Greek Scriptures, there is a contrast between the words geenna and hades. In Matthew 10:28 Jesus said:
28 And do not become fearful of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, fear him who can destroy (apollymi) both soul and body in Gehenna.
The Greek word apollymi means “to destroy; to ruin.” The soul represents the person himself and his right to life. This shows that Gehenna refers to total destruction or ruin from which there is no resurrection. In contrast, Revelation 20:13 shows that all persons who are in hades (Hebrew, sheōl) will get a resurrection. According to Matthew 23: 15, 33, Jesus showed that the scribes and the Pharisees that he spoke to would experience the judgment of Gehenna.
15“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you travel over sea and dry land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one, you make him a subject for Ge·henʹna twice as much so as yourselves.
33“Serpents, offspring of vipers, how will you flee from the judgment of Gehenna?
As a contrast, Jesus shows in Matthew 11:23 that the inhabitants of Capernaum will come to hades, which means that they will get a resurrection.
23 And you, Ca·perʹna·um, will you perhaps be exalted to heaven? Down to the Grave (hades) 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.
The words of Jesus show that the group of Pharisees and the Scribes will not get a resurrection but the inhabitants of Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida will come up from the grave. In connection with the question about getting a personal chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice, both the people of Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida and the Pharisees and the Scribes had heard Jesus preach and seen his miracles, and they had rejected Jesus. However, one of the groups would come to hades and will get a resurrection. The other group would come to Gehenna and will not get a resurrection. What is the difference between the two groups?
SIN AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT VERSUS INHERITED SIN
There is an important biblical point to take into consideration, namely, inherited sin and the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. Because all humans have inherited sin, God does not demand that we are perfect. When a human has committed sins, he or she may get forgiveness because of the ransom sacrifice. But some sins cannot be forgiven, namely, sins against the holy spirit. (Matthew 12:31, 32; 1 John 5:16).
What is the difference between the sins that can be forgiven and those that cannot be forgiven? Every sin that directly or indirectly is caused by our imperfection, by the sin we have inherited, can be forgiven. But sins that are caused by our own wickedness cannot be forgiven. What does that mean? According to Matthew 12:27, the sons (disciples) of the Pharisees could expel demons. In this case, the demons cooperated with the disciples of the Pharisees, in order to mislead those who saw the demons being expelled. When this expelling of demons occurred, the Pharisees evidently used this as evidence that God was on their side. Jesus expelled demons on a much greater scale than the disciples of the Pharisees. But in his case, the Pharisees said that Jesus expelled the demons with the help of Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons (verse 24).
Were the Pharisees led by their imperfection, by their inherited sin to ascribe the great works of Jesus to Satan? Did they say this because they had inherited sin from their first father? No! They accused Jesus of being in league with Satan because they were wicked, and Jesus threatened their position. This was a conscious decision that could not be ascribed to their inherited sin. Sin against the holy spirit, therefore, is an intentional wicked course of action that continues despite the fact that the actor knows that his or her course is wicked, and it is done because of pure selfishness. It “is impossible to revive them again to repentance (metanoia),” as Hebrews 6:5 says. Those who have sinned against the holy spirit are not able to feel remorse and repent. This is the sin that “incurs death,” according to 1 John 5:16.
Jesus spent much time in Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida, and he made many miracles in these cities. But most of the people did not accept Jesus as one that was sent by God. Jesus rebuked the inhabitants of these cities because of their lack of faith. But he did not say that they had sinned against the holy spirit. On the contrary, he said that the inhabitants of these cities would get a resurrection on Judgment Day, according to Matthew 11:20-24:
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 Siʹdon on Judgment Day than for you. 23 And you, Ca·perʹna·um, will you perhaps be exalted to heaven? Down to the Grave (hades) 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 Watchtower of March 1, 1965, page 139, says regarding the verses quoted above:
As in the case of Tyre and Sidon, Jesus showed that Sodom, bad as it was, had not got to the state of being unable to repent. That is why Jesus said that, if his powerful works that had taken place in Capernaum had taken place in Sodom, “it would have remained” until Jesus’ day. And in that connection Jesus said that Capernaum, which had been exalted in a spiritual way to heaven, would be abased down to Ha’des, not to Gehenna. Heaven for height and Ha’des or Sheol for depth; and by using this contrast Jesus meant that Capernaum would undergo the deepest abasement. Though highly favored by Jesus, that city does not exist today any more than Sodom does. But if Sodom had had Capernaum’s opportunity Sodom would have had ten or more righteous persons in it and it would have continued over nineteen hundred years longer till Jesus’ day and then some. So the spiritual recovery of the dead people of Sodom is not hopeless. (Gen. 18:22-32) Ezekiel 16:46-61 speaks hopefully of people compared to ancient Sodomites.
The divine requirement that would have ensured that Sodom “would have remained until this very day” was that ten or more righteous persons had been found in the city. The words of Jesus show that if Sodom had received the same chance as Capernaum, there would have been at least ten righteous persons in the city. Claiming that these ten or more are eternally annihilated, would be against God’s righteousness and love for mankind, as well as against the value of the ransom sacrifice. But that is exactly what the present members of the Governing Body do!
When the inhabitants of Sodom, Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida will get a resurrection, it means that they did not have the personal chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. But how can that be when Jesus preached in these Jewish cities and made many miracles there? We do not know the minds and hearts of the inhabitants of these cities. But the situation with Paul, who persecuted the Christians. and even agreed that they should be killed, may give some clues. In 1 Timothy 1:13, 14. Paul says:
12 I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who imparted power to me, because he considered me faithful by assigning me to a ministry, 13 although formerly I was a blasphemer and a persecutor and an insolent man. Nevertheless, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and with a lack of faith. 14 But the undeserved kindness of our Lord abounded exceedingly along with faith and the love that is in Christ Jesus.
When Jesus said that the inhabitants of the mentioned cities would have a resurrection and be present on Judgment Day, this indicates that they to some ekstent were in the same situation as Paul, and that they had not had a full personal chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. The conclusion of this section is that only persons who have sinned against the holy spirit will not get a resurrection on Judgment Day. But all others, regardless of their bad actions will get a resurrection.
The Awake! magazine of May 22, 1963, page 28, contained an article with the theme, “Resurrection — for whom?” Regarding those who will not get a resurrection, the article says:
There will not be a resurrection for the willfully, deliberately, incorrigibly wicked, those without the slightest spark remaining of conscience or love of righteousness.
This is an excellent description of sin against the holy spirit. Those who have sinned against the holy spirit are incorrigibly wicked, and they are not able to show regret or remorse for their actions. These will not get a resurrection.
. For a detailed discussion of the application of the ransom sacrifice and God’s righteousness in connection with the resurrection, see the article “Participating in Interfaith Activities” in the category “Apostasy” and the article, “Judgment Day which is the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ” in the category, “Bible Study.”
. In the Watchtower Publication Index, entries are listed in black or blue script. The blue script refers to important articles, and the black script to less important articles. If I click on the blue script, the text of the reference becomes visible. But that does not happen when I click on the black script. The words from the Awake! magazine are very important. But nevertheless, the article is in black script. Articles from Awake! that can be read online go back to 1970. This means that those who use jw.org cannot know the contents of the Awake! article from 1963. The only way to know the contents of this article is to locate this 60-year old Awake! magazine. But that is not easy. So, it seems to me that those who made the Index wanted to hide the contents of this article because it contradicts the view of the present members of the Governing Body.
THE FALSE TEACHING OF THE MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNING BODY REGARDING THE RESURRECTION — THEY REJECT THE WORDS OF JESUS
Hymenaeus and Philetus had “deviated from the truth” (2 Timothy 2:17, 18) because they said that the resurrection was not future but had already occurred. They did not deny that there was a resurrection. But their false teaching related to the time of the resurrection and possibly also to the nature of the resurrection. In a similar way, the present members of the Governing Body do not deny that there will be a resurrection. But their false teaching is related to the scope of the resurrection. The members of the Governing Body simply reject some of the words Jesus uttered regarding the resurrection.
The Watchtower of January 15, 1987, page 24, compared the actions of the inhabitants of Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, Sodom, and Gomorrah, and said:
Jesus goes on to single out for reproach the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, where he has performed most of his powerful works. If he had done them in the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon, Jesus says, these cities would have repented in sackcloth and ashes. Condemning Capernaum, which apparently has been his home base during his ministry, Jesus declares: “It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom on Judgment Day than for you.”
What does Jesus mean by this? Evidently he is showing that, during Judgment Day when proud ones in Capernaum are resurrected, it will be more difficult for them to admit their mistakes and accept Christ than it will be for the resurrected ancient Sodomites to repent humbly and learn righteousness.
These comments accord with the words of Jesus. However, in The Watchtower of June 1, 1988, page 30, the question was raised: “Will those whom Jehovah destroyed by fire in Sodom and Gomorrah be resurrected?” The article says:
A recent review of this suggests that these verses need not be taken as statements about the future for the people of Sodom/Gomorrah…
A reexamination of Matthew 11:20-24, though, has brought into question whether Jesus was there discussing eternal judgment and resurrection. His point was how unresponsive the people in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were and how unlikely it was that they would reform even in the Judgment Day. Saying that it would be “more endurable” for Tyre/Sidon and Sodom/Gomorrah “on Judgment Day” was a form of hyperbole (exaggeration to emphasize a point) that Jesus need not have intended to be taken literally, any more than other graphic hyperboles that he used.
These comments are a direct rejection of the words of Jesus.
The Governing Body defends this false teaching to this day, as is seen in the study note of Luke 10:12.
It will be more endurable: Evidently used as a form of hyperbole that Jesus may not have intended to be taken literally. (Compare other graphic hyperboles that Jesus used, such as those at Mt 5:18; Lu 16:17; 21:33) When Jesus said it would be “more endurable for Sodom in that day,” that is, on Judgment Day (Mt 10:15; 11:22, 24; Lu 10:14), he was not saying that the inhabitants of Sodom must be present on that day. (Compare Jude 7) He could simply have been emphasizing how unresponsive and culpable most people were in such cities as Chorazin. Bethsaida, and Capernaum. (Lu 10:13-15) It is worth noting that what happened to Ancient Sodom had become a proverbial and was often mentioned in connection with God’s anger and judgment.—De 29:23: Isa 1:9; La 4:6.
The study note claims that Jesus did not say that the inhabitants of Sodom must be present on Judgment Day. But that was exactly what Jesus said!
I do not hesitate to say that just as Hymenaeus and Philetus had “deviated from the truth” by claiming that the resurrection already had occurred, those who wrote the 1988 article and the members of the present Governing Body have also “deviated from the truth” because they contradict Jesus’ words regarding those who will get a resurrection.
AN EXAMPLE OF SEMI-INSPIRATION
The members of the Governing Body take the words of Matthew 24:45-47 as a prophecy, and these nine members claim to be “the faithful and discreet slave” and that they “give them [the domestics] the food at the proper time.” This means that everything the members of the Governing Body write and publish is the spiritual food that God wants his domestics (his servants) to have at a proper time. What the Governing Body publishes must be viewed as the truth from God. This viewpoint is in itself the same as semi-inspiration. The members of the Governing Body do not say that they are inspired by God, that they get messages from God. But if what they write is the spiritual food God wants his servants to have at a certain time, this is very close to inspiration.
The quotation above is an interesting example of this semi-inspiration. On January 15, 1987, The Watchtower had an article where the words of Jesus about the resurrection on Judgment Day of the people of Sodom, Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida were taken literally at face value. According to the view of “food at the proper time,” this was the spiritual food God wanted his servants to have at this time. But one and a half years later, on June 15, 1988, The Watchtower had an article with the very opposite conclusion: The words of Jesus could not be understood literally because they represented a hyperbole (an exaggeration). This was now the spiritual food that God wanted his servants to receive.
The semi-inspiration is clearly seen by the way this new understanding is expressed. No linguistic or contextual arguments for this new view that is the opposite of the previous view are presented. The reason for the new view is only “A reexamination of Matthew 11:20-24.” This means that the members of the Governing Body place themselves on par with the Bible, or rather above the Bible. On the basis of their authority, on their reexamination of the text, all Witnesses must now believe the very opposite of what the GB wrote one an a half years ago. The members of the Governing Body think that they have the authority to contradict the words of Jesus without giving any reasons. But this is a false teaching!
I would also like to add the words of the Study Edition of The Watchtower of February 2022, Study article 6, paragraph 15:
As the end of this system of things draws near, we need to trust in Jehovah’s way of doing things as never before. Why? During the great tribulation, we may receive instructions that seem strange, impractical, or illogical. Of course, Jehovah will not speak to us personally. He will likely provide direction through his appointed representatives. That will hardly be the time to second-guess the direction or to view it with skepticism, wondering, ‘Is this really coming from Jehovah, or are the responsible brothers acting on their own?’ How will you fare during that crucial time in human history? The answer might be indicated by how you view theocratic direction now. If you trust the direction we receive today and readily obey, you will likely do the same during the great tribulation.—Luke 16:10. (Bold script in the original)
Even if the members of the
give instructions that are “strange, illogical or impractical,” all the Witnesses must follow these instructions. This means that even when we do not understand the meaning of something the
says or writes, we must believe that it comes from Jehovah. This means that the Witnesses must treat the members of the Governing Body like those who are inspired by God. Therefore, it is even more than semi-inspiration. These instructions are on the point of crossing the border into real inspiration, or it has even crossed this border. This is so because this instruction in The Watchtower puts the words of the members of the Governing Body on the same level as the words of God in the Holy Scriptures.
WHY THE TEACHING OF THE GOVERNING BODY ON THE RESURRECTION IS FALSE
The claim of the members of the Governing Body is that we cannot take the words of Jesus about Judgment Day at face value because Jesus presents hyperboles has no support whatsoever in the text of the Bible. The quotations below show that Jesus really talked about Judgment Day and the resurrection.
Matthew 11:21, 22 shows that the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon will be present together with the inhabitants of Chorazin, Bethsaida on Judgment Day.
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 Siʹdon on Judgment Day than for you.
Ezekiel 32:21, 29 shows that the inhabitants of Sidon will get a resurrection because they went down to sheōl (Greek: hades) and all the dead in hades (sheōl) will according to Revelation 20:13 get a resurrection:
21 “‘From the depths of the Grave (sheol) the mightiest warriors will speak to him and his helpers. They will certainly go down and will lie just like the uncircumcised, slain by the sword…
30“‘There all the princes of the north are, along with all the Si·doʹni·ans, who have gone down in disgrace with the slain, despite the terror caused by their mightiness. They will lie uncircumcised with those who were slain by the sword and will bear their shame with those going down into the pit.
Matthew 11:23 shows that the inhabitants of Capernaum would go down to hades, and therefore they will get a resurrection. Matthew 11:24 shows that there would be at least ten righteous persons in Sodom if they got the same chance as the Jewish cities because that was the requirement that the city would not be destroyed. These, together with the other inhabitants must get a resurrection.
23 And you, Ca·per’na·um, will you perhaps be exalted to heaven? Down to the Grave (hades) you will come; because if the powerful works that took place in you had taken place in Sod’om, it would have remained until this very day. 24 But I say to you, it will be more endurable for the land of Sod’om on Judgment Day than for you.”
Matthew 12:41, 42 says that the inhabitants of Nineveh, the queen of the south, together with this wicked generation in the days of Jesus will get a resurrection.
It is impossible to claim that these words mean the opposite of what they say, that there is no resurrection for those who are mentioned:
41 Men of Nin’e·veh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it, because they repented at what Jo’nah preached. But look! something more than Jo’nah is here. 42 The queen of the south will be raised up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Sol’o·mon. But look! something more than Sol’o·mon is here.
I will analyze the words: “Men of Nineveh will stand up (anistemi, ‘stand up’, future middle indicative) in the judgment with (meta ‘with’) this generation.”
“The queen of the south will be raised up (egeirō ‘raise, lift up, future passive indicative) in the judgment with (meta ‘with’) this generation.”
Both verbs refer to the resurrection — “will stand up,” “will be raised up.” Both verbs are indicative, and therefore, it is grammatically impossible to deny that Jesus spoke of a literal resurrection of the inhabitants of Nineveh, the queen of the south, and of this (wicked) generation.
JESUS SPOKE ABOUT JUDGMENT DAY AND THE RESURRECTION
1. Jesus said that the inhabitants of Sidon would be present on Judgment Day. Ezekiel says that they are in sheōl (Greek: hades) and therefore we know they will get a resurrection.
2. Jesus said that the inhabitants of Capernaum came to hades, and therefore they will get a resurrection.
3. Jesus said that the inhabitants of Nineveh, the queen of the south, and this wicked generation will be present on Judgment Day. It is impossible to claim that these words represent hyperbole.
4. Jesus said that if his miracles had been done in Sodom, the city would still have been standing. This shows that there would have been at least ten righteous persons in the city, and these could not be annihilated. Therefore, Jesus must be speaking about the resurrection.
I would like to quote again the wise words of The Watchtower of March 1, 1965, page 139 says:
As in the case of Tyre and Sidon, Jesus showed that Sodom, bad as it was, had not got to the state of being unable to repent. That is why Jesus said that, if his powerful works that had taken place in Capernaum had taken place in Sodom, “it would have remained” until Jesus’ day. And in that connection Jesus said that Capernaum, which had been exalted in a spiritual way to heaven, would be abased down to Ha’des, not to Gehenna. Heaven for height and Ha’des or Sheol for depth; and by using this contrast Jesus meant that Capernaum would undergo the deepest abasement. Though highly favored by Jesus, that city does not exist today any more than Sodom does. But if Sodom had had Capernaum’s opportunity Sodom would have had ten or more righteous persons in it and it would have continued over nineteen hundred years longer till Jesus’ day and then some. So the spiritual recovery of the dead people of Sodom is not hopeless. (Gen. 18:22-32) Ezekiel 16:46-61 speaks hopefully of people compared to ancient Sodomites.
Jesus mentioned King Solomon in connection with the queen of the south. But he did not say anything about his destiny. Solomon went against Jehovah in his old age. But still, he will get a resurrection, as we see in The Watchtower of February 15, 1965, page 114:
32 The queen of Sheba will be favored with a resurrection from Sheol or Haʹdes, but what about King Solomon whom she visited? His father David is mentioned in Hebrews 11:32 as being among the approved ancient witnesses of Jehovah, but Solomon, the wisest king of ancient times and the writer of three Bible books, is not mentioned there. Some time after the queen of Sheba visited him, he yielded to the influence of his hundreds of wives and concubines and fell away to the foolish worship of pagan idols. (1 Ki. 11:1-8;Neh. 13:25, 26; Rom. 1:25) However, both 1 Kings 11:43 and; 2 Chronicles 9:31say that “Solomon lay down with his forefathers” and was buried “in the city of David his father.” So, since Solomon lay down to sleep in death with his forefathers, including David, that puts him in Sheol or Haʹdes, with the prospect of being brought forth therefrom under the kingdom of the Greater Solomon.—Compare Deuteronomy 31:16; 2 Samuel 7:12; 1 Kings 1:21; 2 Kings 20:21.
The members of the Governing Body also deny the resurrection of those who perished in the flood in the days of Noah. The Watchtower of June 1, 1988, page 30 says:
Consequently, in addition to what Jude 7 says, the Bible uses Sodom/Gomorrah and the Flood as patterns for the destructive end of the present wicked system. It is apparent, then, that those whom God executed in those past judgments experienced irreversible destruction.
In Matthew 24:38, 39. Jesus used the flood as an example of what will happen in the great tribulation. However, to use these verses to show an irreversible destruction for all those who died in the flood is to read something into the text that is not there. Jesus did not discuss the destiny of those who drowned in the flood but used them as an example of the ignorance of many persons who would live during his presence. The words of Revelation 20:13 show that those who are in hades will get a resurrection as well as those who are in the sea, and that must logically include those who died in the flood.
In the days before the flood, there was much wickedness on the earth. But we have no reason to believe that these persons were more wicked than the inhabitants of Sodom or the inhabitants of Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida. And most important, those who lived immediately before the flood did not have the opportunity to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. The conclusion to the discussion above is that most people that lived before Jesus came to the earth will get a resurrection and be present on Judgment Day. The same is true with most people who lived in the days of Jesus.
|Most people that lived before the time of Jesus did not have the opportunity to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. Therefore, they will get a resurrection. And most people who lived in the days of Jesus will get a resurrection as well.|
I have shown that all those who were not a part of the Christian congregations were not enemies of God who would be annihilated forever when they died.
The words of Jesus that the inhabitants of Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida, who heard the preaching of Jesus and saw his miracles but rejected him, would have a resurrection on Judgment Day, indicate that most of those who did not become Christians in the 1st century CE will get a resurrection as well. The illustration of Jesus in Matthew 13:24-30, 37-43 shows that there should be “a thin thread of Christians” after the 1st century CE and until 1914, when the time of the end started. There was almost no preaching of the Kingdom after the 1st century CE, and most of those who lived during this time did not have any possibility to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. This means that most of them will get a resurrection.
What about those who have died during the time of the end, since 1914? The Bible Students started their preaching in the 1870s, but when World War II ended in 1945, very few of those who lived between the 1870s and 1945 had heard the preaching of the Kingdom. Will these persons get a resurrection? Revelation 6:1, 2 portrays Jesus coming on a white horse as king in 1914. Then follows a red horse symbolizing war, then followed a black horse symbolizing famine, and a pale horse who was authorized to kill by different means. After these horses came hades, which symbolizes that the persons who experienced death by the riding of the other horses would come to hades, and therefore they will have a resurrection. So most people who have lived during the time of the end from the year 1914 will get a resurrection
. I detailed discussion of how Jesus used hyperboles and other issues in connection with the resurrection is found in the article, “Deliberately spreading teachings contrary to Bible truth” in the category “Apostasy.”
THE DESTINY OF PERSONS WHO ARE ALIVE WHEN THE GREAT TRIBULATION COMES
Today, there are 8 billion people living on the earth, and each year, 140 million children are born. This means that when the great tribulation comes, there will be more than 8 billion humans on the earth. What will happen to these people when the great tribulation comes?
After he had preached about the Kingdom for three and a half years, Jesus gave his life as a ransom sacrifice. I have already shown that the purpose of the establishment of the congregations in the first century CE was to preach the good news of the Kingdom and to gather persons who accepted the ransom sacrifice and who would reign together with Jesus Christ in heaven.
THE VIEW OF THE GOVERNING BODY REGARDING THOSE WHO LIVE WHEN THE GREAT TRIBULATION COMES
What is the reason why the Governing Body will not take the words of Jesus regarding the resurrection at face value? The reason must be that the words of Jesus contradict the view of the members of the Governing Body that only baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses and their children will survive the great tribulation and all other living humans will be eternally annihilated. If those who constituted what Jesus called “this wicked generation” in his time, and the inhabitants of Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida, who rejected Jesus and his preaching, will get a resurrection, it is meaningless to claim that 8 billion+ humans that live when the great tribulation comes will be eternally annihilated. Magnifying the meaninglessness of the claim is the fact I will show below that more than 6 billion of those who live when the great tribulation comes have never had the chance to accept or reject the preaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the ransom sacrifice.
The book Pure Worship of Jehovah Restored at Last! (2018), pages 178-180, claims that only baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses (and their children) will survive the great tribulation, and all others will be killed.
17 To survive the coming destruction, individuals need to prove their faith now. As we saw earlier, those who survived Jerusalem’s destruction in 607 B.C.E. demonstrated beforehand their heartfelt rejection of wickedness and their devotion to pure worship. It is similar today. Before the destruction comes, individuals need to be “sighing and groaning”—deeply grieved at heart—over the wickedness of this world. And rather than hide their feelings, they must demonstrate by words and actions their devotion to pure worship. How can they do so? They need to react favorably to the preaching work that is being done today, to continue putting on a Christlike personality, to get baptized in symbol of their dedication to Jehovah, and to support Christ’s brothers loyally. (Ezek. 9:4; Matt. 25:34-40; Eph. 4:22-24; 1 Pet. 3:21) Only those who pursue such a course now—and who enter the great tribulation as pure worshippers—will be in a position to be marked for sur- vival.
19 The heavenly King, Jesus Christ, and his heavenly armies will execute judgment on this system of things. In Ezekiel’s vision, the six men with weapons for smashing did not begin the destruction until after the man in linen completed his marking work. (Ezek. 9:4-7) Likewise, the coming destruction will begin after Jesus judges people of all the nations and marks the sheep for survival. Then, during the war of Armageddon, Jesus will lead the heavenly executional forces, which will include the holy angels and all his 144,000 co-rulers, against this wicked world, destroying it utterly and delivering pure worshippers into a righteous new world.—Rev. 16:14-16; 19:11-21.
The text says that one has to be baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in order to survive the great tribulation. Their children are not mentioned, but other publications say that they will follow their parents. The text speaks of “destroying utterly” all other persons. The Study Edition of The Watchtower of May 2022, article 21, paragraphs 8 and 10, uses even use stronger words, namely, “the total annihilation”:
As mentioned in the preceding article, the political elements of this world will soon turn on Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. (Rev. 17:16, 17) This action will mark the beginning of the great tribulation. Will this result in a flood of new ones deciding to turn to worship Jehovah? No. To the contrary, Revelation chapter 6 shows that at that critical time, people who are not serving Jehovah will seek protection from the political and commercial systems of this world, which are compared to mountains. Since those people will not take a stand in favor of God’s Kingdom, Jehovah will consider them to be opposers.— Luke 11:23; Rev. 6:15-17. 9 Truly, Jehovah’s faithful servants will stand out as different during that desperate time of tribulation. They will still be the only group of people on earth serving Jehovah God and refusing to give their support to “the wild beast.” (Rev. 13:14-17) Their firm stand will provoke the rage of those who oppose Jehovah. As a result, a coalition of nations will attack God’s people all over the earth. This act of mad aggression is described prophetically as the attack of Gog of Magog.—Ezek. 38:14-16. 10 What is the outcome of this war [Harmageddon]? The total annihilation of all humans and organization opposing Jehovah!—Read Revelation 19:19-21.
There are several points in the quotations above that we must discuss. The setting in the quotations is clear. Jehovah’s Witnesses (20 million+) will survive the great tribulation but all others (8 billion+) will experience total annihilation. The viewpoint that so many billion people will not be resurrected must be seen in the light of the ransom sacrifice, that Jesus bought all Adam’s descendants, and therefore, each one must have a personal chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice.
I will again quote the words of the the Awake! magazine of May 22, 1963, page 28, regarding those who will not get a resurrection. The article is entitled, “Resurrection — for whom?” Regarding those who will not get a resurrection, the article says:
There will not be a resurrection for the willfully, deliberately, incorrigibly wicked, those without the slightest spark remaining of conscience or love of righteousness.
This is a description of sin against the holy spirit, and of those who will be eternally annihilated. But does this description fit the 8 billion+ who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses when the great tribulation comes? Absolutely not! As I will show below, when the great tribulation comes, more than 6 billion humans have not had the opportunity to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice, so these people cannot be “willfully, deliberately wicked.” And therefore, they cannot be eternally annihilated. But what will happen to those who are not serving God when the great tribulation comes?
AN ANALYSIS OF TEXTS USED BY THE GOVERNING BODY TO SHOW THAT 8 BILLION+ PEOPLE WILL BE EVERLASTING ANNIHILATED
I have already argued that only those who have sinned against the holy spirit will not get a resurrection. We have seen that these include persons who are not servants of God, including a group of Pharisees and Scribes who spoke with Jesus. And we have seen that it includes persons who have been Christians but who have rejected the ransom sacrifice. The way sin against the holy spirit is presented in the Bible suggests that only a small group of those who have lived on the earth have sinned against the holy spirit.
THE PREACHING OF THE GOOD NEWS AND THE CHANCE OF ACCEPTING OR REJECTING THE RANSOM SACRIFICE
According to the 2022 “Service Year Report of Jehovah’s Witnesses,” 8,699,048 publishers were preaching the good news of the Kingdom in 239 lands. And they spent 1,501,797,703 hours in this preaching. This seems very impressive. However, what has this preaching achieved in connection with giving each living person a chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ?
Today, there are 8 billion inhabitants on the earth. Of these, there are 2 billion children below 14 years and 800 million persons with mental health disorders. These constitute 35% of the world population, and most of them neither have the chance nor the capacity to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice.
When we look at the report of Jehovah’s Witnesses, we see that there are relatively few preachers in India with 1.4 billion inhabitants, and China also 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, to this number, add the 1 million children and 400 million persons with mental health disorders from other parts of the earth, we get the number of 6,0 billion. This is 75% of the world’s population, and most of them have not had the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice.
In Europe, Australia, and America, there has been much preaching of the Kingdom. But have most of those living there had the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice? The words of Jesus that the members of the wicked generation in his days that heard his preaching and saw his miracles but rejected him will get a resurrection, throw light on this issue. A person who has the opportunity to learn about the ransom sacrifice but has not used this opportunity has not necessarily had the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. A person who is a member of a religion whose doctrines contradict the Bible has not necessarily had this chance. And even a person to whom Jehovah’s Witnesses have preached several times has not necessarily had this chance.
This means that a great part of the 2 billion people who live in the parts of the world with much preaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses have not had a personal chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. What Jehovah’s Witnesses have achieved with the worldwide preaching campaign, is the gathering millions of sincere people who worship Jehovah in spirit and truth. These people will survive the great tribulation and be the foundation of the new system of things. But the preaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses has not separated the inhabitants of the world into two groups, with the result that all the members of the group who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses will be eternally annihilated in the great tribulation.
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 comes because the ratio between the preachers of the Kingdom and the world population will all the time increase. Thus, more than 75% of the humans who live on the earth when the great tribulation comes will be ignorant regarding the ransom sacrifice and the way to get everlasting life.
What will happen to these 6 billion people who are ignorant when the great tribulation starts, and to the other living humans? We do not know. But what we know is that Jesus bought all Adam’s descendants with his death. This means that 6 billion people cannot be eternally annihilated by God in the great tribulation. 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.
THOSE WHO REJECT THE RANSOM SACRIFICE WILL BE ETERNALLY ANNIHILATED
I have already stressed that no person who has not sinned sinned against the holy spirit will get a resurrection. Sin against the holy spirit can be done by Christians and by worldly people. When I now will discuss passages used by the members of the Governing Body to show that all who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses will be eternally annihilated in the great tribulation, it is good to see these passages in light of what the Christian Greek Scriptures say about the ransom sacrifice and sin against the holy spirit. I start with Hebrews 6:4-8:
4 For as regards those who were once enlightened and who have tasted the heavenly free gift and who have become partakers of holy spirit 5 and who have tasted the fine word of God and powers of the coming system of things, 6 but have fallen away (parapiptō), it is impossible to revive them again to repentance (metanoia), because they nail the Son of God to the stake again for themselves and expose him to public shame. 7 For the ground receives a blessing from God when it drinks in the rain that frequently falls on it and then produces vegetation useful to those for whom it is cultivated. 8 But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is rejected and is near to being cursed, and in the end it will be burned.
The expression “have fallen away” is translated from the Greek verb parapiptō with the meaning “to abandon a former association, or to disassociate (a type of reversal of beginning to associate),” according to Louw and Nida. This verb only occurs one time, and therefore, we cannot define the verb on the basis of different contexts. The one context where the verb occurs shows that a person who “has fallen away” is beyond repentance, and this means that he has sinned against the holy spirit.
According to 1 Corinthians 5:1, a member of the congregation was guilty of sexual immorality by living with his father’s wife. Paul writes that this man had to be disfellowshipped (5:13). Sometime later, the man was reinstated and again became a member of the congregation, something Paul agreed with. (2 Corinthians 2:5-8) Because he continued to have sexual relations with his father’s wife, his sin was grave. But he was not beyond repentance. In connection with the behavior of the Corinthians, Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 7:9, 10:
9 now I rejoice, not because you were just saddened, but because you were saddened into repenting (metanoia). For you were saddened in a godly way, so that you suffered no harm because of us. 10 For sadness in a godly way produces repentance (metanoia) leading to salvation, leaving no regret; but the sadness of the world produces death.
Paul shows that sadness in a godly way leads to repentance, but that is not the case with the sadness of the world. The person who had “fallen away” (parapiptō) according to Hebrews 6:6 was not able to show sadness in a godly way that would lead to repentance.
The situation of “falling away” (parapiptō) is also described in Hebrews 10:26-31:
26 For if we practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left, 27 but there is a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a burning indignation that is going to consume those in opposition.
28 Anyone who has disregarded the Law of Moses dies without compassion on the testimony of two or three. 29 How much greater punishment do you think a person will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God and who has regarded as of ordinary value the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and who has outraged the spirit of undeserved kindness with contempt? 30 For we know the One who said: “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again: “Jehovah will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
The adverbial ekousiōs (“willfully”) in verse 26 has according to Louw and Nida the meaning “pertaining to being deliberately intentional — ‘intentionally, purposely, deliberately.’ The adverbial occurs only one other place, namely in 1 Peter 5:2, where NWT13 translates it as “willingly.” There is one example of the corresponding adjective ekousios in Philemon 14. The NWT13 translates this adjective as “free will,” and the contrast to this is “under compulsion.”
All persons are sinners, and most violate God’s laws of their free will. As shown above, the lexical meaning of the adverbial ekousiōs in Hebrews 10:26 is general. But the general meaning of “free will,” that imperfect humans are sinning by their free will, cannot be what the writer of Hebrews had in mind. Therefore, we need to look at the context in order to pinpoint its exact meaning.
Verse 28 speaks about the one who “has disregarded the law of Moses.” The verb atheteō has according to Louw and Nida the meaning “to refuse to recognize the validity of something,” and the Accordance lexicon has the meaning “to reject; to rebel against.” The parallel to the example of rebelling against the law of Moses is that a Christian “has trampled on the Son of God” which means that the person “has regarded as of ordinary value the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified.” This means that the person has refused “to recognize the validity” of the blood of Jesus; he has rejected this blood or has rebelled against the ransom sacrifice.
The last part of verse 29 is particularly important. We read that the person “has outraged the spirit of undeserved kindness with contempt.” Literally, the Greek text says, “and the spirit of undeserved kindness has insulted.” The verb enybrizō means according to Louw and Nida “to speak against someone in an insolent and arrogant way,” and the Accordance lexicon has the meaning “insult; mock.” These last words in verse 29 show that “willingly” includes a conscious insult to the holy spirit.
What the writer of Hebrews presents in 10: 28, 29 is a description of sin against the holy spirit. This sin is defined as “an intentional wicked course of action that continues despite the fact that the actor knows that his or her course is wrong, and it is done because of pure selfishness.” Supporting the view that the verses describe sin against the holy spirit, is the use of the verb hamartanō (“to sin”) as present participle active. This verb is correctly translated by NWT13 as “practice sin.” As I have shown, all the sins that are caused by the sinfulness we have inherited from Adam can be forgiven. But sins that a person does because of his own wickedness, which are not caused by the sin he has inherited from Adam, cannot be forgiven. The adverbial ekousios (willingly”) refer to such unforgivable sins. And the present participle of the verb shows that these sins continue, they are practiced.
I will now analyze different Bible texts that are used by the Governing Body to argue that all those who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses will be eternally annihilated in the great tribulation. This includes the following texts:
- The illustration of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46).
- The illustration of the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-42).
- The words in 2 Peter 3:7 about the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly people.
- The words in 1 Thessalonians 1:6-9 about vengeance and everlasting destruction.
- The armies of the kings in Revelation 19:19-21.
WHO ARE THE GOATS IN MATTHEW 25:31-46?
The view of the members of the Governing Body is that the words in verses 31 and 32 that the Son of man “comes in his glory,” and he “will sit down on his glorious throne” refers to the great tribulation. Then “all the nations will gather before him and he will separate people one from another just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” Because the destiny of the goats is everlasting cutting off, which probably means everlasting annihilation, the conclusion is that all humans who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses will be eternally annihilated in the great tribulation.
There are three strong arguments against this view: 1) Jesus’ sitting on his glorious throne most likely refers to 1914 and not to the great tribulation, 2) The grammar of the text excludes the possibility that the goats are all the inhabitants of the nations, and 3) The actions of the goats exclude the possibility that the goats are all the inhabitants of the nations.
First, in Matthew chapters 24 and 25, there is a difference between the presence (parousia) of Jesus that lasts from the year 1914 to the great tribulation and the coming (erkhomai) of Jesus at the end of his presence, as the judge at the great tribulation. The word erkhomai occurs eight times, in Matthew 24:30, 42, 44, 46, and 25:10, 19, 27, and 31. The Watchtower of July 15, 2013, page 8, applied all the eight occurrences of “coming” to the great tribulation. However, the application of “the coming” with reference to the great tribulation in 25:31 cannot be correct.
The words in Matthew 24:30 about “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven” represent a prophecy that is based on Daniel 7:13, 14. The following six examples of the use of the word “coming” are included in the illustrations (not prophecies) exhorting the Christians to be awake and ready. Then, in 25:31-46 there is a prophecy about the time when the Son of Man “comes in his glory” and “he will sit down on his glorious throne.” Since the year 1923, this prophecy was applied to the presence of Jesus since 1914. But in 1995, there was a change of view, and the prophecy was applied to the great tribulation.
I have made a detailed study of this prophecy, and I have found that there are strong arguments in favor of the previous view, that the separation of the sheep and the goats occurs during the presence of Jesus.
Second, In 25:32, NWT13 has the rendering: “he will separate people one from another,” but the word “people” most likely will be misunderstood. The natural understanding of the verse is that “people” refers to the inhabitants of all the nations, and that these inhabitants will be separated into two groups, sheep and goats. But that is a wrong understanding. In order to understand this, we need to know the Greek rules regarding pronouns that can refer back to nouns. The rules in English regarding pronouns that refer back to nouns are quite similar to the rules in Greek. In order to illustrate the issue, I use an English example, namely, Matthew 5:28.
But I say to you that everyone who keeps on looking at a woman (gynaika, feminine singular accusative) so as to have a passion for her (autēn, third person feminine singular accusative) has already committed adultery with her (autēn, third person feminine singular accusative) in his heart.
*But I say to you that everyone who keeps on looking at a woman (gynaika, feminine singular accusative) so as to have a passion for him (auton, third person masculine singular accusative) has already committed adultery with him (auton, third person masculine singular accusative) in his heart.
The first quotation is grammatical because the pronouns referring back to the woman are feminine and “woman” (gynaika) is feminine. The second clause is marked by an asterisk because it is ungrammatical. It is not possible to use a masculine singular pronoun to refer back to a feminine singular noun. The rule is the same in Greek. A pronoun that refers back to a substantive must have the same gender and number as the substantive. Now we understand the rules that can help us answer the questions regarding the goats and the nations.
Below is my translation of Matthew 25:32
And all the nations (panta ta ethne, plural nominative neuter) will be gathered before him. And he will separate them (autous, third person masculine plural accusative) from each other (allēlōn; masculine plural genitive), just as the shepherd is separating the sheep from the goats.
Just as “him” in the ungrammatical example above cannot refer back to “the woman,” the pronoun “them” that is masculine cannot refer back to “the nations” that are neuter. The conclusion is that those who will experience everlasting cutting-off are not all the inhabitants of the nations of the world who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses, but they are some unidentified persons among these inhabitants. A parallel example is found in Matthew 28:19, with my literal translation (above) and NWT13 (below):
19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations (ta ethnē, neuter plural accusative), baptizing them (autous, personal pronoun third masculine plural accusative) in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.
The grammatical construction in Matthew 28:19 is similar to the construction in 25:32. “All the nations” are neuter and the following personal pronoun is masculine. Therefore, the personal pronoun cannot refer back to all the nations. The translators of NWT13 realized this, and therefore they added the words “people of” before “all the nations.” Thus, the personal pronoun “them” refers back to “people of” all the nations. Because the construction of 28:19 is similar to the construction of 25:32, those who are separated as goats are people of all the nations and not all the inhabitants of all the nations.
All the nations were gathered before Jesus when he became king in 1914 because he is subduing in the midst of these nations (Psalm 110:1, 2) And the Greek text is clear: some persons who are a part of these nations will be separated from one another into the two groups sheep and goats. So the view of the Governing Body that the goats are all the inhabitants of the nations of the world, except Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are the sheep, is grammatically impossible.
After I had written this article, I discovered that The Watchtower of May 15, 1949, pages 150 and 156, used the same argument that I have used. We read:
Not the nations as political bodies, but the people, the individuals in all these nations, are the ones that are separated into two classes. This is indicated for us in the original Greek text of the parable. There the word nations is in the neuter gender, but the pronoun them (referring to those who are separated) is in the masculine gender and hence does not refer to nations. A few modern translations take note of this fact and read, at Matthew 25: 32: “And all the nations shall be gathered together before him. And he shall separate men one from another, as the shepherd doth separate the sheep from the goats.” The people as individuals are the ones separated from one another. The political nations, being all in opposition to earth’s rightful King, are all on his left side and are doomed to be smashed to pieces by his iron rod. So the question is, Which individuals of the people will perish then with the nations.
In the parable the “goats” are all those people on earth at this time who have been reached directly or indirectly by the issue over Christ’s brothers and who take a willful stand on the issue, and that against the King. Only such persons the King could address as he does, saying they had an opportunity to do good to his brothers whose condition they saw and yet they refused to do so, thus sinning.
I have shown in my book, My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body and in several articles that the Watchtower literature in the second half of the 20th century stressed deep interactive Bible study. This is an example of such a study. The problem today when deep interactive study no longer is done is that the present members of the Governing Body either are not aware of what the Greek text of the illustration of the sheep and the goat says, or they simply ignore it.
. The personal pronoun that the NWT13 translates as “the people” is autous, which is third person masculine plural accusative. If the personal pronoun referred back to “nations” that is neuter, the pronoun must have been auta, which is third person neuter plural accusative. The antecedent of autous is not grammatical but logical, namely, unspecified persons from the nations. I would, therefore, have translated autous by “persons” and not by “the people,” with explanations in a footnote.
Third, the actions of the goats contradict the view of the Governing Body. What is the reason for being placed in the group of the goats? Verses 41-46 give the answer:
41 “Then he will say to those on his left: ‘Go away from me, you who have been cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. 42 For I became hungry, but you gave me nothing to eat; and I was thirsty, but you gave me nothing to drink. 43 I was a stranger, but you did not receive me hospitably; naked, but you did not clothe me; sick and in prison, but you did not look after me.’ 44 Then they too will answer with the words: ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying: ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of these least ones, you did not do it to me.’ 46 These will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.”
The brothers of Jesus are the anointed Christians who live on this earth. The adverse judgment of the goats is based on the fact that they had not supported the brothers of Jesus. This indicates that the goats do not represent all the inhabitants of the nations on the earth who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses. But the goats must represent persons who have had contact with the brothers of Jesus but refused to support them, in our context, they refused to accept the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. Today, there are 8 billion people on the earth. And, as I have shown above, the vast majority of these persons have not had any contact with the brothers of Jesus or those who cooperate with these brothers. Thus, the goats are reduced to a small group who have refused to support the Christians with whom they have had contact. And most probably, as I argue in my article, they are identical to those whom the angels “will collect out from his kingdom” because “they practice lawlessness.” (Matthew 13:41) and to those who fall away. (Hebrews 6:5-8) This small group will experience “everlasting cutting off,” which probably refers to everlasting annihilation.
|The goats are not all the inhabitants of the nations of the world because:
1) The separating of the sheep and the goats occur during the presence of Jesus and not in the great tribulation.
2) The grammar requires that the goats are some of the inhabitants of the nations and not all of them.
3) The actions of the goats show that they have been a part of or related to the Christian congregations.
WHO ARE THE WEEDS IN MATTHEW 13:24-30, 36-43?
Most of the illustrations of Jesus are only illustrations. But the account of the sheep and the goats is both an illustration and a prophecy. That the same is true with the account about the wheat and the weeds is that fact that there is a time frame, namely “the conclusion of the system of things,” according to verse 39. A man sowed fine seed in his field, but the Devil came and oversowed weeds among the wheat.
Both should grow until harvest time, which is “the conclusion of the system of things.” A similar expression is used as a parallel to the words about the presence of Jesus in Matthew 24:3. So, the time when the wheat is separated from the weeds is the presence of Jesus, the time of the end. The conclusion of the prophecy is found in verses 41 and 42:
41 The Son of man will send his angels, and they will collect out from his Kingdom all things that cause stumbling and people who practice lawlessness, 42 and they will pitch them into the fiery furnace. There is where their weeping and the gnashing of their teeth will be.
The members of the Governing Body interpret the weeds to be the members of the false Christian religions today, which today count 2.2 billion members. They will be thrown into the fiery furnace in the great tribulation and will be eternally annihilated.
The identification of the members of the false Christian religions cannot be correct because they have never been a part of the Kingdom of God. And verse 41 says that the angels will collect out from his kingdom people who practice lawlessness. It is more likely that the weeds are similar to the goats, to persons who have been a part of the true Christian congregation or have been associated with it, but who practice lawlessness
When the wheat was separated from the weeds, the weeds were thrown into the fiery furnace to be burned. This is the way weeds literally are treated when they are separated from the wheat. Because the weeds have been a part of the Kingdom of God but are collected out of it, this suggests that those who are symbolized by the weeds have sinned against the holy spirit, and that their burning indicates eternal annihilation. But because this is directly stated, we cannot be certain regarding their destiny.
|The Governing Body believes that the weeds are a symbol of the 2.2 billion persons that have the designation “Christian,” and that these will be eternally annihilated. However, the weeds have been collected out of the Kingdom, and these people have never been a part of the Kingdom. So, this view is wrong.
The weeds are a symbol of persons who have had some relation to the true Christian congregation but who have rejected the ransom sacrifice.
THE JUDGMENT AND DESTRUCTION OF UNGODLY PEOPLE (2 PETER 3:7)
The second letter of Peter speaks about new heavens and a new earth (3:13). It also speaks about the judgment of ungodly people in 3:3-7:
3 First of all know this, that in the last days ridiculers will come with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires 4 and saying: “Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as they were from creation’s beginning.” 5 For they deliberately ignore this fact, that long ago there were heavens and an earth standing firmly out of water and in the midst of water by the word of God; 6 and that by those means the world of that time suffered destruction when it was flooded with water. 7 But by the same word the heavens and the earth that now exist are reserved for fire and are being kept until the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly people.
Awake! of March 22, 1993, page 9, has the following comment on Peter’s words:
At times the Bible uses the terms “heavens” and “earth” in figurative ways. “Heavens” may be used to mean Satan, the god of this world; world rulers under his control; and wicked spirit forces in heavenly places—all of which exercise demonic influence over mankind. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 6:12) “Earth” is frequently used to refer to the peoples on the earth. (Genesis 11:1;1 Kings 2:1, 2; 1 Chronicles 16:31; Psalm 96:1) It is these symbolic heavens and earth of this present wicked world that 2 Peter 3:7 says are to be destroyed by “fire.”—Galatians 1:4.
The words about the heavens, the earth, and the fire are of course figurative. In 3:13, Peter speaks of “new heavens and a new earth. The new heavens refer to the Kingdom of God that will be a government over the new earth, which refers to the new system of things that will be functioning during the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus. In a similar way, the old heavens must refer to the governments of this old system of things. These governments, represented by the wild beast in Revelation 19:20. will be thrown into the lake of fire. The earth must refer to this wicked system of things that is ruled by the Devil, according to 2 Corinthians 4:4. In Ephesians 2.2 it is called “the system of things of this world.” This means that the heavens and the earth that are reserved for fire refer to systems and not to humans. These systems will be destroyed on “the day of judgment and of the destruction of ungodly people.” But who are these “ungodly people”?
The Watchtower of May 1, 2015, page 5 identifies “the ungodly people”:
THE END OF PEOPLE WHO PERPETUATE AND SUPPORT THE CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS.
Jesus Christ said: “Now this is the basis for judgment: that the light has come into the world, but men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were wicked.” (John 3:19) The Bible describes an earlier worldwide destruction during the time of the faithful man Noah. “The world of that time suffered destruction when it was flooded with water. But by the same word the heavens and the earth that now exist are reserved for fire and are being kept until the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly people.”—2 Peter 3:5-7.
Note that the upcoming “day of judgment and of destruction” is compared with the destruction of “the world” of Noah’s time. What world was destroyed? Our planet survived; it was “the ungodly people”—God’s enemies—who “suffered destruction.” During God’s upcoming “day of judgment,” those who choose to be God’s enemies will likewise be destroyed. But God’s friends will be preserved, as were Noah and his family.—Matthew 24:37-42.
This fits excellently with the belief system of the members of the Governing Body because Peter compares the destruction of the ungodly people with the destruction of the people in the flood, and, and those who died in the flood are eternally annihilated is the belief. However, Revelation 20:13 shows that all the dead in hades and all the dead in the sea will get a resurrection. Those who died in the flood are among the dead in the sea, and they will get a resurrection. I will also show below that the Governing Body’s identification of “the ungodly people” is wrong.
When we look at the context of 2 Peter chapter 3, we will see that the ungodly people are not all who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses. But they refer to people who have been associated with the true Christian congregation but who have rejected the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
The word “ungodly” is translated from the adjective asebēs, and this adjective is also found in Jude 1:4:
3 Beloved ones, although I was making every effort to write you about the salvation we hold in common, I found it necessary to write you to urge you to put up a hard fight for the faith that was once for all time delivered to the holy ones. 4 My reason is that certain men have slipped in among you who were long ago appointed to this judgment by the Scriptures; they are ungodly (asebēs) men who turn the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for brazen conduct and who prove false to our only owner and Lord, Jesus Christ.
These “ungodly men” were not persons in the world around the Christians. But they were men who were or had been a part of the true Christian congregation. Jude shows that these ungodly men rejected the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. Because of these men, Jude urges those to whom he sent the letter to, “build yourselves up on your most holy faith”.The word “ungodly” (asebēs) is also found in 2 Peter, chapter 2, and I quote verses 1, 5 and 9:
1 However, there also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among you. These will quietly bring in destructive sects, and they will even disown the owner who bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves.
9 And he did not refrain from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a flood upon a world of ungodly (asebēs) people.
5 So, then, Jehovah knows how to rescue people (eusebēs) of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous (adikos) people to be destroyed on the day of judgment.
The false teachers who would be associated with the Christians did, according to Peter, the same thing that the false the ungodly men mentioned by Jude: They rejected the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. In 2:9, Peter points our the contrast between “people of godly devotion” (eusebēs) and “unrighteous (adikos) people.” The word adikos is a synonym of the word asebēs (“ungodly”).
Let us now look at 2 Peter 3:11-14 where we find thoughts that are parallel with the thoughts of Jude:
11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, consider what sort of people you ought to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, 12 as you await and keep close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah, through which the heavens will be destroyed in flames and the elements will melt in the intense heat! 13 But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell. 14Therefore, beloved ones, since you are awaiting these things, do your utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace.
The conclusion is that just as the goats and the weeds represent ungodly men who were associated with the Christian congregation, the “ungodly people” who would experience “judgment and destruction” represent persons who have been associated with the Christian congregation. So again, 2 Peter 3:7 cannot be used to show that all people who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses will be eternally annihilated in the great tribulation.
|According to the context of 2 Peter and a similar context in the letter of Jude, the ungodly men who will experience destruction are persons who have been associated with the Christian congregations but who have rejected the ransom sacrifice.
The ungodly men are not all the people who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses when the great tribulation comes, which is the belief of the members of the Governing Body.
WHO WILL EXPERIENCE THE “EVERLASTING DESTRUCTION” (2 THESSALONIANS 1:9?
9 These very ones will undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction (olethros aiōn) from before the Lord and from the glory of his strength.
The Governing Body uses this verse to show that all those who are living when the great tribulation comes and who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses will be eternally annihilated. But several arguments can be raised against this interpretation.
The Greek word olethros means “a state of utter ruin or destruction” according to Louw and Nida. The Greek word aiōn can refer to the characteristics of a particular period of time, and it can be translated as “system of things,” as does NWT13. However, it can also exclusively refer to time. In that case, the meaning is “pertaining to an unlimited duration of time,” according to the same source. The two words together must refer to an everlasting annihilation, as the view of the Governing Body is.
The important question is who thESE persons are who will be destroyed forever. Paul shows that the members of the congregation accepted the good news under difficult conditions. 1 Thessalonians 1:6 and 7 says:
6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, seeing that you accepted the word under much tribulation with joy of holy spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Mac·e·doʹni·a and in A·chaʹia.
The study note to the verse says:
under much tribulation: This refers to the persecution experienced by the Thessalonian congregation soon after Paul and Silas introduced the good news to them. Enraged by the spread of the good news, fanatic Jewish opposers incited a mob to storm the house where Paul was staying. Not finding Paul there, they dragged his host, Jason, and some others before the city rulers and accused them of sedition. The brothers urged Paul and Silas to leave the city under cover of night and travel to Beroea. (Ac 17:1-10) Remarkably, the holy spirit enabled those Thessalonian Christians to maintain joy despite this persecution.
The members of the congregation in Thessalonica did not only accept the word under much tribulation. But they continued to suffer at the hands of the Greek population who lived around them. 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 says:
14For you, brothers, became imitators of the congregations of God in union with Christ Jesus that are in Ju·deʹa, because you suffered at the hands of your own countrymen the same things that they also are suffering at the hands of the Jews, 15 who even killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and persecuted us. Furthermore, they are not pleasing God, but are against the interests of all men, 16 as they try to prevent us from speaking to people of the nations so that these might be saved. In this way they always fill up the measure of their sins. But his wrath has at last come upon them.
Paul says that the Thessalonians were suffering from their fellow Greeks in the same way as the congregations in Judea were suffering at the hands of their fellow Jews. Paul then refers to the Jews and points out that they “fill up the measure of their sins.” Whether Paul means that their actions were sin against the holy spirit, as in the case of a group of Pharisees and scribes we do not know.
In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul focuses on those who persecuted the Thessalonians, and in 1:3-10 he says:
3 We are obligated always to give thanks to God for you, brothers. This is fitting, because your faith is growing exceedingly and the love of each and every one of you is increasing toward one another. 4 As a result we ourselves take pride in you among the congregations of God because of your endurance and faith in all your persecutions and the hardships that you are suffering. 5 This is a proof of the righteous judgment of God, leading to your being counted worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which you are indeed suffering. 6 This takes into account that it is righteous on God’s part to repay tribulation to those who make tribulation for you. 7 But you who suffer tribulation will be given relief along with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels 8 in a flaming fire, as he brings vengeance on those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. 9 These very ones will undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction from before the Lord and from the glory of his strength, 10 at the time when he comes to be glorified in connection with his holy ones and to be regarded in that day with wonder among all those who exercised faith, because the witness we gave met with faith among you.
Verses 8 and 9 have been used in the Watchtower literature as proof that all persons who are alive when the great tribulation starts except Jehovah’s Witnesses will experience everlasting annihilation. But the text does not say that. Three characteristics are mentioned in connection with those who will be annihilated, 1) they have made tribulation for the Thessalonians, 2) they do not know God, and 3) they do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus Christ.
Regarding point 2), the study note says:
those who do not know God: Paul refers to those who willfully decide that they will not develop a relationship with Jehovah and become his friends. In contrast, those who “know God” do more than acknowledge that he exists; they have more than superficial knowledge of him. They take steps to develop a close friendship with him; they know his likes and dislikes. They love him and live by his standards. (1Jo 2:3, 4; 4:8) Those who truly know God have the honor of being “known by him” (1Co 8:3), which means having his approval.—See study notes on Joh 17:3; Ga 4:9.
This is a logical explanation because “not knowing God” is mentioned in connection with “not obeying the good news.” This suggests a willful ignorance as the study note says. Before Paul became a Christian, he had all the characteristics mentioned. But as he says in 1 Timothy 1:13. “I acted in ignorance and with a lack of faith.” This means that in addition to having the three characteristics, Jehovah sees that the actions of these persons are not caused by inherited sin but they are caused by wicked persons, just as a group of Pharisees and scribes were.
But how can the revelation of Jesus Christ in the future be connected with the persecution of the Thessalonians in the 1st century CE? It could suggest that the revelation of Jesus Christ was imminent. However, the verses in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 are written to counter such a view. The congregation in Thessalonica continued to exist, and today, there are several congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in that city. When the revelation of Jesus Christ comes in the future, those who fill the same characteristics as the wicked persons Paul mentioned will experience the punishment of eternal annihilation. We must assume that those who persecuted the Thessalonians in the 1st century and who are mentioned by Paul also experienced the punishment of eternal destruction when they died.
The words of John in Revelation 1:7 support the view that those who have the same characteristics as those who persecuted the Thessalonians will receive everlasting destruction:
7 Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, and those who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief because of him. Yes, Amen.
Those who pierced Jesus are dead, so the reference must be to persons with the same characteristics as those who pierced Jesus.
The important point here is that the everlasting destruction that is mentioned does not refer to all persons in the world who are not worshipping God in spirit and truth. But it refers to the small group of persons who persecuted the Thessalonians, and probably by extension refers to a small group of people who lives when the great tribulation comes, and who act in a similar wicked way as those who persecuted the Thessalonians.
WHO ARE THE ARMIES OF THE KINGS OF THE EARTH (Revelation 19:19-21)?
The Watchtower of June 1, 1988, page 30, draws a parallel between the goats and those who are fighting against the king Jesus Christ according to Revelation chapter 19:
Furthermore, Matthew 25:31-46 and Revelation 19:11-21 indicate that “the goats” cut off in the coming war of God will experience “everlasting cutting-off” in “the lake of fire,” which symbolizes permanent annihilation.—Revelation 20:10, 14.
Let us consider the situation that is expressed in Revelation 19:17-21:
17 I saw also an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice and said to all the birds that fly in midheaven: “Come here, be gathered together to the great evening meal of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of military commanders and the flesh of strong men and the flesh of horses and of those seated on them, and the flesh of all, of freemen as well as of slaves and of small ones and great.”19 And I saw the wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the one seated on the horse and against his army. 20 And the wild beast was caught, and along with it the false prophet that performed in front of it the signs with which he misled those who received the mark of the wild beast and those who worship its image. While still alive, they both were hurled into the fiery lake that burns with sulfur. 21 But the rest were killed off with the long sword that proceeded out of the mouth of the one seated on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
Verse 19 says that the armies of the kings of the earth waged war against the judge Jesus Christ. How can that be? According to the vision of Paul in Acts 9:3-5 when he was on his way to Damascus, persecuting followers of Jesus is the same as persecuting Jesus. This means that because Jesus is invisible, the armies of the kings of the earth waged war with Jesus by waging war with his followers on the earth. Exactly how this will happen we do not know, but the context suggests that this will happen shortly before or during the great tribulation.
What is the destiny of the soldiers in the armies of the kings? Verse 20 shows that the wild beast and the false prophet, which are symbols of organizations, will be hurled into the symbolic lake of fire. But verse 21 says the “the rest” will be killed by the judge Jesus Christ. This may or may not include the doldiers. Will the killing of the mentioned persons indicate eternal destruction? The lake of fire is the symbol of the second death, eternal destruction, and those persons who at the end of the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus will not serve God, are said in 20:15 to be hurled into the lake of fire, thus being annihilated forever. Because “the others,” which may or may not include the soldiers in the armies of the kings are said to be killed but not hurled into the lake of fire, some of them or all of them may get a resurrection.
The soldiers are persecuting the people of God, and that could suggest that they will be destroyed forever, just as those who were persecuting the members of the congregations in Thessalonica, according to 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10. However, the real question is whether each soldier had his or her personal chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. If that was not the case, God’s righteousness and love would prevent the person from eternal annihilation.
Who are the soldiers in the armies of the kings? Of course, we do not know their identity, and neither do we know how many persons are soldiers in the armies of the kings. But they can hardly exceed 28 million because this is the number of all the soldiers in the world today. The number is probably much smaller because it is difficult to believe the armies of all the 195 countries of the world will be united in an all-out attack on the people of God.
We must also ask about the personal responsibility of each one of the soldiers in the armies of the kings. The members of the Governing Body say that the enemies of God will be destroyed in the great tribulation. But the soldiers in an army just obey the orders of their superiors, and they do not necessarily have any animosity toward the people of God.
How shall we understand the words of Revelation 19:15 (above) and 14:14-20 (below) where we read:
15 And out of his mouth protrudes a sharp, long sword with which to strike the nations, and he will shepherd them with a rod of iron. Moreover, he treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.
14 Then I saw, and look! a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was someone like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.15 Another angel emerged from the temple sanctuary, calling with a loud voice to the one seated on the cloud: “Put your sickle in and reap, because the hour has come to reap, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16 And the one seated on the cloud thrust his sickle into the earth, and the earth was reaped.17 And still another angel emerged from the temple sanctuary that is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle.18 And still another angel emerged from the altar, and he had authority over the fire. And he called out with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, saying: “Put your sharp sickle in and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for its grapes have become ripe.” 19 The angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and he hurled it into the great winepress of God’s anger. 20 The winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress as high up as the bridles of the horses for a distance of 1,600 stadia.
The King Jesus Christ shepherds the nations with a rod of iron, and the meaning of this is seen in the prophecy in Psalm 2:9:
You will break them with an iron scepter, And you will smash them like a piece of pottery.”
This is the same as we read in Revelation 19:20, that the wild beast, which symbolizes the political nations will be hurled into the lake of fire. Regarding the wine and its grapes. The Watchtower of July 1, 1967, page 407, says:
Speaking of the victorious army under Jesus Christ, Revelation says: “He treads too the press of the wine of the anger of the wrath of God the Almighty.” (Rev. 19:15) This global winepress will crush the political vine of the earth with all its political branches, huge clusters of grapes, wicked deeds and oppression, which are the fruitage produced by their kingdoms. Grapes are usually crushed at wine-making by human feet, but not so with the vine of the earth. God threshes with horses’ hoofs the product of this vine. The Word of God and his heavenly armies leap into the winepress and stamp it out until they completely express the “anger of the wrath of God the Almighty.” It is a time of victory, and just as in Palestine wine–making was a festive time, the treaders will doubtless shout and sing as they trample out the grapes. (Jer. 25:30; 48:33) It will result in a terrible destruction, but it will be selective, Jehovah God destroying only those who really are against him and his kingdom and the interests of all men.—Rev. 14:18-20; Joel 3:12-17.
The Watchtower speaks of “the political wine,” and this may or may not be correct. There is nothing in the context that identified the wine. As in Revelation 19:21, there is a difference between the political nations and persons who live in these nations. The Governing Body claims that all humans, except Jehovah’s Witnesses, who live when the great tribulation comes will be eternally annihilated. This is not written anywhere in the Scriptures. Revelation 19:21 says that “the rest” (hoi loipoi) were killed by the long sword that proceeded out of the mount of the one seated on the horse. This rest is not identified. The grapes of the wine symbolize humans. But these humans are not identified.
The important point is that some humans will lose their life at the time of the great tribulation. We have seen that persons who have been associated with the Christian congregations, symbolized by the goats, the weeds, and the ungodly people mentioned in 2 Peter 3:7 will be eternally annihilated. The same is true with those who persecute the Christians like those who persecuted the Thessalonians. Whether some of these persons are included in “the rest” who will be killed, or are among the symbolic grapes we do not know. But no passage in Revelation or another book in the Bible says that all those that are living when the great tribulation comes, except the true Christians, will be eternally annihilated.
There is also another viewpoint that has been mentioned by the Governing Body. The Watchtower of October 15, 1995, page 27, points to a possible solution to this situation:
Many are exposed to our message as we preach from house to house or informally. Others may learn of Jehovah’s Witnesses and what we represent in ways unknown to us. When judgment time arrives, to what extent will Jesus consider community responsibility and family merit? We cannot say, and it is pointless to speculate.
The words that it is pointless to speculate seem to be wise. But bringing up the issue of community responsibility is in reality a rejection of the value of ransom sacrifice. In the article “Manslaughter” in the category “The eleven disfellowshipping offenses,” I demonstrate in detail that “community responsibility” in connection with a person’s final destiny is nothing but fiction and does not exist. The quoted words present the possibility that persons may be eternally destroyed without having had the possibility of accepting or rejecting the ransom sacrifice, and this is the same as a rejection of the value of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus.
The conclusion to this section is that there are no passages in the Bible showing that all the people who live when the great tribulation comes and who are not worshipping God in spirit and truth will be eternally annihilated.
I have demonstrated that the sheep in Matthew 25:39-46 do not represent all the inhabitants of the world outside the Christian congregation. But they represent persons who have been related to the Christian congregations but who have rejected the ransom sacrifice. The same is true with the weeds in Matthew Matthew 13:24-30, 36-42, and the ungodly persons who are mentioned in 2 Peter 3:7. All these will be eternally annihilated in the great tribulation.
I have also demonstrated that those who “will undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction” according to 2 Thessalonians 1:9 are not all the people of the world who do not serve God. But the reference is to persons who persecuted the congregation in Thessalonika and possibly persons who in a similar way persecute the true Christians when the great tribulation comes. The armies of the kings that are mentioned in Revelation 19:19-21 are less that 0,35% of the population of the world when the great tribulation comes. The text does not say that they are hurled in the lake of fire, and therefore are eternally destroyed. So, we cannot know whether the soldiers in these armies or a part of them will get a resurrection on Judgment Day. If they have not sinned against the holy spirit, they will get a resurrection.
. See my article, “An analysis of the evidence used to show that the Governing Body is ‘the faithful and discreet slave’” in the category “The Governing Body.”
. The personal pronoun that the NWT13 translates as “the people” is autous, which is third person masculine plural accusative. If the personal pronoun referred back to “nations” that are neuter, the pronoun must have been auta, which is third person neuter plural accusative. The antecedent of autous is not grammatical but logical, namely, unspecified persons from the nations. I would, therefore, have translated autous by “persons” and not by “the people.”
EXCURSUS ON “ETERNAL ANNIHILATION”
The issue can be expressed with the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:28:
The word psychē (“soul”) refers to different sides of the person himself, and the verb apollymi (“to destroy”) is corresponding with the noun apōleia (“destruction”). In this verse, it refers to the right to have a life as a soul. There is a difference between the killing of the body, and destroying both body and soul (the right to live) in Gehenna, which refers to complete annihilation.
Any judgment against particular persons that is expressed in The Christian Greek Scriptures includes death as the first step. So, in each case, we must ask whether the judgment only represents the “killing of the body,” or whether it also includes the “destroying both soul and body”. We should note that there is no single Greek word that means “eternal destruction,” i.e., the destroying both soul and body. Let us look at the meaning of particular words.
THE NOUN APŌLEIA (”DESTRUCTION”)
A noun may have different meanings and different references. The basic meaning of the Greek word apōleia is “destruction.” I will now look at different references to the word.
1) The noun can refer to the loss of money, as we see in Acts 8:20.
2) The word can refer to a bad situation caused by the love of money, as we see in 1 Timothy 5:9:
The two examples above showing situations where apōleia does not refer to eternal destruction, teaches us that only the context can show us whether a certain text only refers to the “killing the body” or whether it refers to the “destroying both soul and body.”
3) There are several examples where apōleia refers to eternal destruction.
Because apōleia alone does not refer to eternal destruction, this reference can only be construed on the basis of the context.
Examples from 2 Peter:
There is no mention of Gehenna in connection with the four passages above, and neither is the word aiōn (“a time where we cannot see the end”) found. This means that the five examples of apōleia alone cannot tell us whether apōleia only refers to the killing of the body or to the destruction of both soul and body. However, the description of the false teachers, who even refuse to accept the ransom sacrifice (2:1), shows that they are guilty of sin against the holy spirit. Thus, the destruction in all four verses refers to eternal annihilation.
One examples from the Epistle to Hebrews:
As in the case with the four passages from 2 Peter, the words Gehenna or aiōn are not found in connection with apōleia. So, we cannot know just by looking at the occurrence of apōleia to understand whether the destruction is eternal or not.
The context of Hebrews 10:38, 39 may solve the problem. In 10:28, 29 we read:
This is a description of sin against the holy spirit and the rejection of the ransom sacrifice. When the word “destruction” is used in connection with those who shrink back in this context, we have a strong reason to believe that the reference is to eternal annihilation.
We have seen that apōleia in two passages refers to situations in this world and not to eternal annihilation. In five passages there are good reasons to believe that apōleia refers to eternal annihilation, and in one passage the reference is unclear.
Two examples from Philippians:
The persons who will experience destruction according to the verses above are not clearly identified. But some of their actions are described. In 1:28, they are called “your opponents.” The word antikeimai has the meaning “to oppose; to be hostile toward,” according to Louw and Nida. What is “this very thing” that is a proof of their destruction. The words refer to antikeimai, that they are opponents. We have previously seen that Paul was an opponent to the Christians. But he “acted in ignorance and with a lack of faith.” (1 Timothy 1:13) So, being an opponent of the Christians does not necessarily qualify for eternal destruction.
Those who are mentioned in 3:18, 19 “are walking as enemies of the torture stake of the Christ,” “their God is their belly,” and “they have their minds on earthly things.” The study note in NWT13 says:
If this is correct, they had, in reality, “fallen away” (Hebrews 6:6) and rejected the ransom sacrifice. Therefore, it could not be said that they “acted in ignorance with a lack of faith,” as in the case of Paul. In this situation, they would deserve eternal annihilation. However, there is nothing in the letter to the Philippians that directly support this conclusion. So, we cannot with certainty know if apōleia(“destruction”) refers to the death of the body or to the destruction of both body and soul (eternal annihilation).
THE NOUN OLETHROS (“RUIN; DESTRUCTION”)
The word olethros occurs four times, and it has the meaning “a state of utter ruin or destruction,” according to Louw and Nida. But the word itself does not refer to “eternal annihilation.” The meaning and references can only be construed from the context.
One example from 1 Timothy:
The use of the words olethros and apōleia in this verse refers to the bad situation in this life when a person builds his life around his love of money.
One example from 1 Corinthians:
In Corint, a man in the congregation was living with his father’s wife, and Paul wrote that he should be disfellowshipped. The result of this disfellowshipping is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:5
The study note of NWT13 says:
These comments are logical, and by removing the man from the congregation, the fleshly or sinful element in the congregation was removed. The removal is described by the word olethros, that here has the meaning “removal” rather than “eternal annihilation.”
One example from 1 Thessalonians:
In these verses, there is a contrast between the wrath of God and salvation, and “sudden destruction” is mentioned. It is logical that there is a connection between the wrath of God and the sudden destruction. In the case of the words apōleia (“destruction”) and olethros (“ruin”), only the context can show whether these words refer to eternal annihilation. In a similar way, only the context can show the meaning of “God’s wrath.”
I will now refer to 1 Thessalonians 1:10 (above) and 2:14-16 (below):
The words “rescues us from the wrath that is coming” refer to the “sudden destruction” mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, and the words “rescue…from the wrath” parallels the words “not to wrath…acquiring salvation” in 5:9. But how shall we understand “the wrath of God”? In 2:16, Paul shows that the Jews “fill up the measure of their sins,” and then he says that “God’s wrath has at last come upon them.” The verb translated as “has come upon” is aorist, and this shows that the reference is past. The wrath of God had come upon the Jews while they were still living. And this shows that God’s wrath does not necessarily lead to eternal annihilation.
I will now return to 1 Thessalonians 5:1-9. The main point is that the day of Jehovah comes as a thief, but the day will not overtake the Christians as it would thieves. Paul then exhorts the Thessalonians to stay awake and keep their senses. On this background, Paul speaks about a sudden destruction.
Who will experience this “sudden destruction”? I will look at the details of the text. The words “they are saying” is a translation of the word legō (“speak; say”, third person plural present active subjunctive). The sudden destruction will come instantly on “them.” The pronoun is third person plural masculine dative, and it must refer back to “they” who are saying peace and security. This means that the sudden destruction will, according of the text, not come upon all that are not God’s servant, but only of those who are saying “peace and security.”
Can we conclude that this “sudden destruction” means “eternal annihilation”? That is impossible. Why? Because those who will experience eternal destruction are not identified. Only what they will be saying is mentioned, and no bad actions are ascribed to these people.
One more example from 1 Thessalonians:
We have now analyzed three occurrences of olethros (“ruin; destruction”), and none of them is used with the meaning “eternal annihilation.” But the fourth example quoted above has this meaning.
Why can we know that olethros in this context refers to eternal destruction? There are two reasons, 1) The noun olethreos is determined by aiōn (a time of which we cannot see the end), and 2) those who will undergo destruction are identified as those who have persecuted the Thessalonians.
The problem that we see in so many articles that are approved by the members of the Governing Body, is that they take particular words out of their contexts. By this, they are misleading the readers.
When we take the contexts into considereation we see that very few persons are shown to experience eternal annihilation. These are false teachers who do not accept the ransom sacrifice according to 2 Peter, some members of the congregations of the Hebrews who had trampled on the Son of God and sinned against the holy spirit, and persons who had persecuted the Thessalonian Christians. The words apōleia and olethros in other passages refer to the killing of the body and not to the destruction of both soul and body in Gehenna.
. A detailed discussion of the illustration and prophecy of the sheep and the goat is found in 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.”
. A detailed analysis of the illustration and prophecy about the wheat and the weeds is found in my article: “For many ar called but few are chosen — What the members of the Governing Body do not understand,” in the category, “The Governing Body.”
WHO WILL SURVIVE THE GREAT TRIBULATION?
In the last section, I showed that scriptures used by the Governing Body to show that 8 billion+ humans who are living when the great tribulation comes will be eternally annihilated, are misunderstood and taken out of their context. But what will happen to these 8 billion+ when the great tribulation comes?
THE GREAT CROWD WILL SURVIVE THE GREAT TRIBULATION
The great tribulation is mentioned in Revelation chapter 7, and I quote Revelation 7:9-17:
9 After this I saw, and look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands. 10 And they keep shouting with a loud voice, saying: “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne,i and to the Lamb.” 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell facedown before the throne and worshipped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Let the praise and the glory and the wisdom and the thanksgiving and the honor and the power and the strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” 13 In response one of the elders said to me: “These who are dressed in the white robes, who are they and where did they come from?” 14 So right away I said to him: “My lord, you are the one who knows.” And he said to me: “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 That is why they are before the throne of God, and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple; and the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them. 16 They will hunger no more nor thirst anymore, neither will the sun beat down on them nor any scorching heat, 17 because the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them and will guide them to springs of waters of life. And God will wipe out every tear from their eyes.”
The phrase “come out of the great tribulation” means surviving the great tribulation. We can see this by comparing the Greek text of Revelation 7:14 above and Acts 7:10 below:
14 houtoi eisin hoi erkhomenoi (present middle participle) ek tēs thlipseōs tēs megalēs
these are those coming out of the tribulation the great.
10 kai exeilato (aorist middle) auton ek pasōn tōn thlipseōn autou
and taken out of he out of all the tribulations his
The account in Acts chapter 7 tells about Joseph who was sold to Egyptian merchants. But God took him out of all of his tribulations. The verb exaireō in Acts 7:10 is aorist, which is the perfective aspect. According to Mounce the meaning of the verb is “take out; pluck out,” and the preposition ek has the meaning “out of.” So, both the verb and the preposition show that Joseph was taken out of all his tribulations, and this means that he survived these tribulations. In a similar way, “coming out of the great tribulation” means that the persons survive the great tribulation.
The verb erkhomai in Revelation 7:14 is present participle, which is the imperfective aspect. The meaning of the verb is “come; go; pass” according to Mounce. The NWT13 fails to convey the true nuance of the present participle of erkhomai by the rendering “come out of the great tribulation.” And I am surprised that NWT84, which takes great pains of rendering all the nuances of the verbs, has the same rendering.
The true force of the present participle of erkhomai can be found by reading Matthew 11:3, where NWT13 renders ho erkhomenos (the article and present participle of erkhomai) as “the Coming One.” Mounce uses this verse as an example of the force of the present participle of erkhomai, and has the rendering: “He who is coming, the expected Messiah.” It would not be possible to render the phrase with “He who Comes” or “The One who Comes.” The point is that the present participle in Greek should be rendered by the present participle in English and not by the simple present. Only the rendering “the ones who are coming out of the great tribulation” conveys the nuances of the Greek verb.
One interesting question in connection with Revelation 7:14 is the perspective of the words of the elder. What is the vantage point of the elder, the point from which he describes the action? The Watchtower of June 15, 1991, page 15, says:
8 All who hope to survive the impending “great tribulation” and to enjoy God’s blessings on a paradise earth depend on Jesus’ shed blood. Revelation 7:9-14 describes them and says retrospectively: “These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Note the language here. It does not say that these who are saved through the tribulation had ‘accepted Jesus’ or ‘put faith in him,’ though those certainly are vital aspects. It goes a step further and says that they “washed their robes and made them white in [Jesus’] blood.” That is because his blood has ransoming value.
The book, United in Worshhip of the Only True God (1983), page 106 says:
6 The description of the “great crowd” as found at Revelation 7:9-15 adds further important details. In telling us how those of the “great crowd” appear after the “great tribulation,” the Scriptures also draw attention to factors that led to their being preserved.
The use of the adverbial “retrospectively” in The Watchtower is correct, but the use of the preposition “after” in the book is a little imprecise. It is clear that the elder places himself at a point after the great tribulation, and this is his vantage point. So, what does he describe for John? The elder does not use a prospective perspective by using future, “will come out of.” Neither does he use the retrospective viewpoint of past tense, “they came out of.” This perspective would have qualified for the phrase “appear after ‘the great tribulation’.”
He describes the situation with focus on the end of the great tribulation, exactly in the moment when the great crowd “are coming out of” the great tribulation, the moment when they survive the great tribulation.
The important point in connection with the description of the elder is what the quotation from The Watchtower of June 15, 1991 says. The blood of Jesus “has ransoming value.” Because the verbs “wash” (plynō) and “whiten” (leukainō) are aorists, their actions make a contrast to the verb erkhomai (“come”) in the present in the phrase “coming out of.” The elder placed himself in a position immediately after the end of the great tribulation and was looking at the great crowd that was coming out of the great tribulation. Because of the contrast between two aorists and the present, the actions of washing and whitening must have occurred before the great tribulation. At this time, each member of the great crowd accepted the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, and that is the reason for their survival. However, after the great tribulation, they are still imperfect, and they still need the ransom sacrifice. This is shown in Revelation 7:17 where we read that the Lamb “will guide them to springs of waters of life.”
Is the great crowd the only ones who will survive the great tribulation?
WHAT IS THE DESTINY OF DISFELLOWSHIPPED WITNESSES?
There are 11 offenses named in the Christian Greek Scriptures that are disfellowshipping offenses. In addition to these, the members of the Governing Body have listed 37 disfellowshipping offenses that have no basis in the Bible, and there are a number of other actions that are not listed but can be defined as disfellowshipping offenses.
Because of these disfellowshipping offenses, about 1% of the Witnesses, or about 80,000, are disfellowshipped each year. This means that during the 21st century about 1, 000,000 Witnesses have been disfellowshipped. The Christian Greek Scriptures have descriptions of when a person must be disfellowshipped. If the instructions of the Bible had been followed, I estimate that 90% of those who have been disfellowshipped should not have been disfellowshipped.
Some of those who have been disfellowshipped have died. But others will be alive when the great tribulation comes. What will be their destiny? The members of the Governing Body have taught the Witnesses that when a person is disfellowshipped, he or she has lost his or her good relationship with Jehovah, and as long as a person is disfellowshipped, he or she is classified in the same group as those who are said to be enemies of God. This is, in reality, a presumptuous viewpoint. No human being has the right to claim that the good relationship between a person and Jehovah is destroyed. A relationship with God is a personal matter, and no other human has the right to meddle in this situation.
Those who have been disfellowshipped have one time dedicated their life to Jehovah and expressed this by baptism. By this, they have shown that they have accepted the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. As mentioned, nine out of ten have been unjustly disfellowshipped because the requirements of the Bible have not been followed. The destiny of these is easy to anticipate. Only persons who have sinned against the holy spirit are eternally condemned. Most of those who have been disfellowshipped have not sinned against the holy spirit, and this means that if the have died, or if they die in one of the catastrophes mentioned by Ezekiel in connection with the great tribulation, they will get a resurrection on Judgment Day, and if they are living into the great tribulation, they will survive together with the great crowd.
THE DESTINY OF THE 8 BILLION+ HUMANS WHO ARE NOT SERVING JEHOVAH
I have already demonstrated that almost all persons who lived before the common era, including those who died in the flood and the inhabitants of Sodom will get a resurrection, and the same is true with most persons who have lived and died from the first century CE and up to the present. I have shown that only those who sin against the holy spirit will not get a resurrection. These include, 1) Worldly people who sin against the holy spirit, such as some Pharisees and Scribes, and 2) Christians who have rejected the ransom sacrifice.
When the great tribulation comes, there are 8 billion+ humans living on the earth who are ignorant as to the value of the ransom sacrifice. What will happen to them? Because most of these people have not had the possibility to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice, they cannot be eternally annihilated. But neither can they survive the great tribulation. Why not?
The purpose of the resurrection in the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ, which is Judgment Day, is that all persons whom Jesus bought by his death will get a chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. There are three factors giving all humans such an excellent chance to serve Jehovah on Judgment Day, 1) Satan is bound and cannot influence the humans in a bad way, and 2) God-fearing persons will take care of the resurrected ones, teaching them about Jehovah and Jesus Christ and helping them with all their needs, and 3) The sin everyone inherited from Adam will gradually be removed during the 1,000 years, and at the end of the period, sin will be completely removed.
If 8 billion+ humans who represent all the different bad sides of the present wicked system of things ruled by Satan would survive the great tribulation together with the 20+ million servants of God, that would have destroyed the very purpose of Judgment Day. So, there is a dilemma: The 8 billion+ cannot survive the great tribulation, but neither can they be eternally annihilated because they have not had the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. We do not know the solution to this dilemma. But we may find some suggestions in Ezekiel chapter 38, and I quote verses 38:10-23:
10 “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: ‘In that day thoughts will come into your heart, and you will devise an evil plan. 11 You will say: “I will invade the land of unprotected settlements. I will come against those living in security, without disturbance, all of them living in settlements unprotected by walls, bars, or gates.” 12 It will be to take much spoil and plunder, to attack the devastated places that are now inhabited and a people regathered from the nations, who are accumulating wealth and property, those who are living in the center of the earth.13 “‘Sheʹba and Deʹdan, the merchants of Tarʹshish and all its warriors will say to you: “Are you invading to get much spoil and plunder? Have you assembled your armies to carry off silver and gold, to take wealth and property, to seize a very great spoil?”’
14 “So prophesy, son of man, and say to Gog, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: “On that day when my people Israel are dwelling in security, will you not know it? 15 You will come from your place, from the remotest parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great assembly, a vast army. 16 Like clouds covering the land, you will come against my people Israel. In the final part of the days I will bring you against my land so that the nations may know me when I sanctify myself through you before their eyes, O Gog.”’
17 “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: ‘Are you not the same one I spoke about in the former days through my servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied for many years that you would be brought against them?’18 “‘On that day, the day when Gog invades the land of Israel,’ declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘my great rage will flare up. 19 In my zeal, in the fire of my fury, I will speak; and in that day there will be a great earthquake in the land of Israel.20 Because of me the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the wild beasts of the field, all the reptiles that creep on the ground, and all humans on the surface of the earth will tremble, and the mountains will be thrown down, and the cliffs will fall, and every wall will collapse to the ground.’21 “‘I will call for a sword against him on all my mountains,’ declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. ‘Every man’s sword will be against his own brother. 22 I will bring my judgment against him with pestilence and bloodshed; and I will rain down a torrential downpour and hailstones and fire and sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many peoples with him. 23 And I will certainly magnify myself and sanctify myself and make myself known before the eyes of many nations; and they will have to know that I am Jehovah.’
Gog of Magog may be a symbol of Satan the Devil, and the account describes an attack on the people of God by Gog and nations that he is leading. Can we believe that the events that are described as a result of the attack literally will happen? There are reasons to answer Yes. In connection with the great tribulation, Jesus said according to Matthew 24:29:
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Jesus shows that the powers of heaven will be shaken, and this may be parallel to “hailstones, fire and sulphur” that will rain down on Gog and the peoples that are with him. What will happen to the humans living on the earth if the described events literally occur — a great earthquake, mountains and cliffs will fall down, there will be pestilence and bloodshed, and every man’s sword will be against his own brother? That would mean that a great number of lives would be taken. Based on this prophecy, there is the possibility that a great number of people will die at the time of the great tribulation, not because God will annihilate them forever, but because of the events that will occur on this earth.
This is something that the words of Jesus in Luke 17:26-32 may support:
26 Moreover, just as it occurred in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of man: 27 they were eating, they were drinking, men were marrying, women were being given in marriage until that day when Noah entered into the ark, and the Flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it occurred in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building.29 But on the day that Lot went out of Sodʹom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 It will be the same on that day when the Son of man is revealed. 31 “On that day let the person who is on the housetop but whose belongings are in the house not come down to pick these up, and likewise, the person out in the field must not return to the things behind. 32 Remember the wife of Lot.
These words are used by the members of the Governing Body to show that all the people living on the earth, except Jehovah’s Witnesses will be eternally annihilated. They find support in their belief that all who perished in the great flood and when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed were everlastingly annihilated. However, I will turn this view upside down. As I have demonstrated, those who died in the great flood and in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah will get a resurrection, and this includes the wife of Lot.
. See my article, “The members of the Governing body have devalued and restricted the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ,” in the category, “The Governing Body.”
On this basis, the words of Jesus that a great number of people will die when he is revealed, suggest the very opposite of what the members of the Governing body say. Jesus draws a parallel between those that were destroyed in the great flood and in Sodoma and Gomorrah and those who will be destroyed when he is revealed. Because the former will get a resurrection, the words of Jesus may indicate that the latter also will get a resurrection.
No human knows what will happen in the future. But Ezekiel’s prophecy gives us some hints as to what may happen. And certainly, if a great part of the 8 billion+ humans die at the time of the great tribulation, our dilemma has been solved. These people cannot be eternally annihilated because they have not had the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. But they cannot survive the great tribulation, which would destroy the purpose of Judgment Day. But if they die, they will come to hades and get a resurrection. And God’s purpose with the human family has been fulfilled. What will happen to the ignorant ones who still are living on the earth after the catastrophes mentioned by Ezekiel we do not know. But we know that God will treat them in a righteous way, and in one way or another, they will have a personal chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
|More than 75% of the population of the world who are alive when the great tribulation starts will not have had a personal chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. Every person who has not had this chance will get this chance during the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus either by surviving the great tribulation or by a resurrection.|
. “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.
JUDGMENT DAY AND THE APPLICATION OF THE RANSOM SACRIFICE
Jesus Christ mentioned “judgment day” on several occasions, such as in Matthew 11:22, and he connected this day with the resurrection of the dead.
JUDGMENT IN RIGHTEOUSNESS
Paul mentions judgment day in Acts 17:31:
Because he has set a day on which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has provided a guarantee to all men by resurrecting him from the dead.”
We learn from Paul’s words that Jesus Christ will be the judge on Judgment Day. Because the inhabited earth will be judged in righteousness the basis for the judgment must be the ransom sacrifice. The resurrection of a great number of humans is implied by the words that the resurrection of Jesus is a guarantee, for after his resurrection Jesus presented his sacrifice for Jehovah in the heavens.
When the Scriptures speak about the ransom sacrifice and salvation, in most cases, the love of God is stressed. But in Romans 3:26, God’s righteousness is stressed in connection with the ransom sacrifice and being declared righteous on the basis of the ransom sacrifice. The verse says that God himself must be righteous when declaring a person righteous. We read Romans 3:23-26.
23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and it is as a free gift that they are being declared righteous by his undeserved kindness through the release by the ransom paid by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as an offering for propitiation through faith in his blood. This was to demonstrate his own righteousness, because God in his forbearance was forgiving the sins that occurred in the past. 26 This was to demonstrate his own righteousness in this present season, so that he might be righteous even when declaring righteous the man who has faith in Jesus.
Before Jesus died and sinners could enjoy the benefits of the ransom sacrifice, God could forgive sins because he knew Jesus would give his life as a ransom sacrifice. However, persons who were called to the heavenly kingdom had to be declared righteous, and because of the requirement that God himself had to be righteous when doing this, this action of him could only occur after Jesus had given his life as a ransom sacrifice. The requirement of righteousness is that first when there is a corresponding ransom — Jesus instead of Adam — then God has a judicial basis on which he can declare a person righteous.
Those who belonged to the nation of Israel could bring offerings to Jehovah, and their sins would be forgiven. But the ransom sacrifice that did not yet exist could not be applied to them. This means that almost all Adam’s descendants who lived in the millenniums before Jesus came to the earth did not have a personal chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice.
It is important to note that both the judgment of those with a heavenly hope, those who have been declared righteous, and those who will be present on the earth on judgment day will occur in righteousness.
A DESCRIPTION OF JUDGMENT DAY
Chapter 20 of Revelation discusses judgment day and what will happen at that time. In Revelation 20:11-15 we read:
11 And I saw a great white throne and the One seated on it. From before him the earth and the heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. The dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead in it, and death and the Grave gave up the dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds.14 And death and the Grave were hurled into the lake of fire. This means the second death, the lake of fire. 15 Furthermore, whoever was not found written in the book of life was hurled into the lake of fire.
Revelation has a great number of tableaus; some of their parts cannot be taken literally but others include literal entities. In chapter 13, for example, we read about animals that are symbols of different nations. Chapter 17 presents the great prostitute and a scarlet-colored wild beast, and these are, of course, symbols. However, the seven heads of the wild beast refer to seven kingdoms, as we see in verses 9-11, and these are literal entities (nations) that can be identified. This means that there are literal keys that can help us understand the tableaus.
Chapter 5, verses 5-11, presents a lamb, who clearly represents Jesus Christ. Then a group of persons who will be a kingdom and priests to our God and rule over the earth are presented. After that, tens of thousands of heavenly beings are presented, and this presentation is literal. The points above teach us that in the tableaus there are both literal and symbolic entities, and we need to look for the keys that can help us understand the entities and the actions that are ascribed to them in the tableaus.
Let us now return to verses 20:11-14. The one sitting on the throne is of course God, so this is a literal presentation. That earth and heaven fled away represent symbols. Verse 12 mentions the dead, and these are the literal persons who are in line for a resurrection. In a court case in Israel, literal scrolls could be opened as a part of the judgment. The opening of the scrolls represents symbols, that refer to what is the basis of the judgment of the dead, namely their deeds.
Verse 13 mentions the sea, hades (translated as “the Grave”), and death, and these three gave up the dead in them. These are three literal entities. Those persons who have drowned in the sea will get a resurrection, and those who are in hades will get a resurrection as well.
But what does the word thanatos (“death”) represent? Revelation 1:18 refers to the One who has the keys to “death” and “hades.” There are two keys, and this shows that “death” is one entity that is separated from the other entity, which is “hades.” Revelation 20:11 speaks about “the second death,” which indicates that the word “death” in connection with hades must be “the first death.” What is “the first death”? According to Romans 5:12, all Adam’s descendants have inherited sin, 5:17 shows that death “ruled as king” over all Adam’s descendants, and Paul shows in 6:23 that “that the wages sin pays is death.” This means that “the first death” must be the death we have inherited from Adam because we are sinners.
Now we can better understand the words in Revelation 20:13 that “death and hades gave up the dead in them.” That hades would give up the dead refers to a literal resurrection during the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ. But in which condition will the dead be raised up? As I later will show, the resurrected ones will be raised up as they were before they died. This means that they still are sinners and are in the grips of the death they inherited from Adam. A number of persons will also survive the great tribulation, and they are also in the grips of the death that they inherited from Adam.
That “death” will give up the dead logically means that persons who are imperfect sinners gradually will get rid of their inherited sin during the 1,000 years. At the end of the 1,000 years, they “have come to life,” and they no longer have their inherited sin, as Revelation 21:4 shows. When the last one is resurrected and every living person is free of the death inherited from Adam, then “death and hades were hurled in the lake of fire” as 20:14 says. This is “the second death”—total annihilation, from which there is no resurrection.
BEING JUDGED “ACCORDING TO THEIR DEEDS”
On many occasions, Jesus spoke about the resurrection, and the important question is on which basis the resurrected persons will be judged. Revelation 20:13 (NWT13) says that the resurrected ones “will be judged individually according to their deeds.” What does this mean?
Paul throws light on this question in Romans chapter 6. In verse 23, Paul says that the “wages sin pays is death.” The word “wages” is translated from the Greek word opsōnion, and the word does not refer to wages in general but to the wages of a soldier. Paul uses the illustration of three kings, King Sin, King Death, and King Undeserved kindness (Romans 5:14, 17, 21). Humans are soldiers in the army of a king, and those who are soldiers for King Sin or King Death will get the wages of a soldier, that is death.
On the basis of his illustration Paul draws an important inspired conclusion in Romans 6:7:
For the one who has died has been acquitted from his sin.
This conclusion is far-reaching. All persons are sinners, and the soldier’s wages they get is death. This means that at the moment a person dies he has received the wages (the judgment) for his sins, and when he is resurrected, he is acquitted from his previous sins. Therefore, he cannot be judged a second time for the sins he committed before he died. If we apply this to the words of Revelation 20:12, “The dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds,” it means that “their deeds” must be deeds that they have done after their resurrection. They are judged according to what is written in the scrolls which are requirements they must fulfill in the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus.
But what about the words of Jesus in John 5:28, 29?
28 Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming (erkhomai, present middle indicative) in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who did (poieō “do” aorist active participle) good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced (prassō “carry out some activity” aorist active participle) vile things to a resurrection of judgment.
To what does Jesus refer when he speaks about “those who did good things” and “those who practiced vile things”? Does Jesus contradict Paul by referring to the actions the resurrected did before their death? The answer is No, and supporting this answer is John 5:25:
25 “Most truly I say to you, the hour is coming (erkhomai “come,” present medium indicative), and it is (eimi “be,” present active indicative) now, when the dead will hear (akouō “hear” future active indicative) the voice of the Son of God, and those who have paid attention (akouō “hear,” aorist active participle) will live (zaō“live,” future active indicative).
The first present verb “come” in verse 25 refers to the future, to a time period after Jesus uttered the words. The second verb “be” most likely refers to the future as well, and the meaning can be “will now be/become.” The third verb “hear” is Greek future and English future. But what about the fourth verb “hear”? This verb is aorist active participle, and the aorist does not refer to past tense or to any other tense. But aorist is tenseless and represents the perfective aspect. This means that the aorist portrays an action from the outside with the inside details not being visible. The aorist form can refer to past, present, and future with a preponderance for the past.
The first occurrence of the verb akouō (“hear”) in 5:25 has placed the situation in the future when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. The fact that the following verb, which also is akouō, is not Greek future but Greek aorist shows that the time reference has changed. Jesus does not portray a situation where the dead will hear (akouō) his voice, then he again repeats that they will hear (akouō), and then they will live (zaō). But the change of aspect shows that the meaning is that the dead will hear (future), and those who will have heard (aorist) — those who have acted on what they heard — will live (future). I, therefore, suggest the following translation:
The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who will have heard will live.
This means that I take the second occurrence of the verb akouō in the aorist aspect as English future perfect. This is a retrospective viewpoint. First, we learn that the dead in the future will hear the voice of the Son of God. Then Jesus takes a step into the future beyond the point when the dead hear his voice, and he looks back retrospectively. He points out from his new vantage point that the dead who have heard his voice have taken a certain action, they have done something with what they heard. Then he again looks into the future and says that those who have taken the action will live. The important point in our context is that the action described by the aorist participle “will have heard” occurs after the time when they hear the voice of the Son of God.
Let us again look at John 5:28, 29 in the light of John 5:25.
28 Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming (erkhomai, “come,” present middle indicative) in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear (akouō, “hear” future active indicative) his voice 29 and come out (poreuomai “come out,” future middle indicative), those who did (poieō “do” aorist active participle) good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced (prassō “carry out some activity” aorist active participle) vile things to a resurrection of judgment.
The first verb erkhomai (“come”) in verse 28 is Greek present and must refer to the future. The second verb akouō “hear” is Greek future and must refer to English future, and the third verb poreuomai “come out” is also Greek future and must refer to English future. The next two verbs poieō (“do”) and prassō (“carry out some activity”) are aorist and therefore must have a different time reference than erkhomai (“come”), akouō (“hear”), and poreuomai (“come out”). This must be a time that is past in relation to some vantage point.
In 5:25 the vantage point is clear because of the last future verb zaō (“live”). The dead will hear (akouō), and those who will have heard (akouō) will live (zaō).” In verse 29 there is no verb after the two verbs in the aorist, and linguistically speaking the vantage point is not clear. Because the two verbs in the aorist must have another time reference than the three first verbs in Greek present, future, and future, there are two possible vantage points.
The verbs poieō (“do”) and prassō (“carry out some activity”) can refer to the time before the dead will come out, and the actions (deeds) can refer to what they did before they died. The vantage point is then the verb “come out,” and the actions of the two aorist verbs happened before this vantage point. The alternative is a retrospective vantage point. Jesus puts himself at a point in the future and he looks back at those who have come out, those who have been resurrected.
The retrospective vantage point is very rare compared to a simple past vantage point. This means that if an aorist verb shall be translated by English future perfect, there must either be a syntactical, lexical or contextual reason for this. In 5:25 there is a lexical reason, namely, the two occurrences of the verb akouō with different time references. That there is a verb with a future meaning following the last verb akouō is a syntactical reason for the choice of English future perfect.
However, in 5:28. 29 there is neither a lexical nor a syntactical reason for the choice of English future perfect instead of simple past. Because of this, the simple past rendering of NWT13 of both verbs in the aorist is the correct one. But this rendering does not exclude a retrospective viewpoint. On the basis of the view that the Bible is inspired by God and that all the Bible writers are in agreement, the words of Paul in Romans 6:7 exclude the possibility of the resurrected ones being judged on the basis of what they did before they died. This suggests that the vantage point for the words in John 5:28, 29 is retrospective. Supporting this is the retrospective vantage point in John 5:25. When Jesus used a retrospective vantage point in this verse, he may also have used this vantage point in 5:28, 29.
The conclusion of this section is that according to Paul the death of a person acquits him from all the sins he has done. Therefore, when he is resurrected, he cannot be judged a second time for the sins he had done before he died. But each person will be judged individually according to the deed he does during the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ.
EXCURSUS ON “THE NATIONS” (ETHNOS) WHO ARE PRESENT DURING THE THOUSAND YEAR REIGN OF JESUS
A reader of this article referred to Revelation 20:3, and he pointed out that the word “nations” could support the view of the resurrection of most persons who have lived on this earth. Revelation 20:3 NWT13 says:
The crucial issue is what the word “nations” refers to. The answer to this question is important because it can throw some light on who will be present during the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ. I have looked at the online Index of scriptures discussed in the Watchtower literature since 1930, and I have found no detailed discussion of the word “nation” in 20:3.
DURING THE THOUSAND YEAR REIGN OF JESUS CHRIST NATIONS WILL BE PRESENT
I count that the word “nations” (ethnos) is used 23 times in Revelation, and the 19 occurrences of the word “nations” in the first 19 chapters always refer to the political nations of the world that are in opposition to God’s Kingdom and his sovereignty. The great prostitute Babylon the Great is mentioned in chapters 17 and 18, and 18:23 says that “by your spiritistic practices all the nations were misled.” The king Jesus Christ and his armies of angels are mentioned in 19:11-14, and verse 15 says, “Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.”
Returning to Revelation 20:3, we see that the reason why Satan is hurled into the abyss is “that he would not mislead the nations anymore until the 1,000 years were ended.” This means that the nations must be present on the earth during the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ. The presence of the nations on the earth in this period is confirmed by the words of Revelation 21:24, 26, and 22:2:
What the healing of the nations refers to is expressed in The Watchtower of November 1, 1992, page 7:
The subject of this article is the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, and we note the words that Jesus died “for the whole of mankind” — not only for those who will be saved. The article shows that according to 22:2 the ransom sacrifice will be applied to the nations who are on the earth.
TO WHOM DOES THE WORD NATIONS REFER?
A word “nations” can be used with different references according to its context. But if the contexts of a book in the Bible do not indicate different references, we must take the word in its basic sense and basic reference. As mentioned, the word “nations” (ethnos) has the same meaning and reference in its 19 occurrences in chapters 1-19, namely to the nations of the world that are in opposition to God and his sovereignty. We, therefore, have no reason to use another reference for the implied existence of the word in 20:3, and the basic meaning of the word in 20:8, 21:24, 26, and 22:2.
We can, of course, not draw sweeping conclusions on the basis of the use of a certain word, such as “nations.” But I have shown show that the use of a word corroborates the conclusions of this article that are based on direct Scriptural evidence. When we read about the resurrection, we see that individuals are mentioned in Daniel 12:13 and John 5:28, 28. Acts 24:15 speaks about the groups, the righteous and the unrighteous, and in Matthew 11:20-24, Jesus speaks about the cities, Chorazin, Capernaum, and Betsaida, Tyre and Sidon, and the land of Sodom. The words of Jesus have a collective perspective, and they must indicate that all the inhabitants of these cities will get a resurrection.
In a similar way, the words about “the nations” who are present during the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus have a collective perspective. The focus is not on individual humans but rather on whole nations who must have had a resurrection.
In this article, I have pointed out that Jesus bought all descendants of Adam by his death, and that every individual must get a personal change to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. I have also pointed out that most persons who have lived on the earth, including more than 75% of the 8 billion+ who would be alive when the great tribulation comes, have not had the chance to accept the ransom sacrifice.
On the background described above, the “nations” who are present during the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus, may include most of the different inhabitants of all the different nations that have lived on the earth during the time since Adam was created. The word “nations” may even include the inhabitants of the “nations” that Jesus “will strike” according to Revelation 19:15. The ransom sacrifice of Jesus will during the 1,000 years be offered to all the resurrected ones, as we see in the symbolic description of Revelation 22:2.
The logic of Revelation 20:3 is that many of those who will get a resurrection have very bad personalities. Jesus said, for example, that it would be more difficult for the inhabitants of Capernaum to accept the salvation offered on Judgment Day than the inhabitants of Sodom. (Matthew 11:21-22) When the inhabitants of Capernaum rejected Jesus, Satan was working among them. During the 1,000 years, Satan is bound, and those resurrected ones with very bad personalities can be taught and possibly progress in the way of truth without the influence of the one who was the cause of their bad personalities.
At the end of the thousand years, Satan will be released from his prison, and 20:7-9 says (The rendering of NWT13 above and my literal translation below):
Those who do not read the Greek text, most likely will misunderstand the verses. The most important point is that the word «nations» (ta ethnē) is neuter, while those who are misled are referred to by the pronoun “them” in the masculine, and Gog and Magog are masculine as well. The grammatical situation here is similar to the grammatical situation in Matthew 25:32, where it is said that all the nations (neuter) are gathered before the King Jesus Christ, but those who are separated are referred to as “them” (masculine). This means that Jesus is not separating the nations as sheep and goats. But he is separating som persons from the nations as sheep and goats.
Revelation 20:8 says that the purpose of the Devil is to mislead the nations (ta ethne, neuter). But it is not the nations are not misled. Those who are misled are referred to by the personal pronoun “them” fire times, and this pronoun is masculine plural. A masculine plural pronoun cannot refer back to a substantive that is neuter. This means that those who are misled are some of the inhabitants of these nations and not the whole nations.
Gog and Magog are mentioned in Ezekiel 38:2, and Gog in the land of Magog would lead an attack on God’s people. The words “Gog and Magog” in verse 8 are masculine and cannot refer back to the nations, who are neuter. But the situation is that Satan is able to mislead some of the inhabitants of the nations in the four corners of the earth, and this group of rebels is called “Gog and Magog.”
Today the 195 nations of the world are spread all over the earth; we could say that they are at the four corners of the earth. At the end of the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus, there is a similar situation; nations are spread all over the world. The inhabitants of the nations today have inherited sin, and because of this, they are on the point of ruining the earth. But the inhabitants of the nations referred to in Revelation 20:8 have no inherited sin but “they have come to life.” (Revelation 20;5) The important point in our context is that the fact that nations live all over the earth at the end of the 1,000 years support the view that most of the inhabitants of all the nations that have existed on earth have received a resurrection on Judgment Day.
The number of the rebels is said to be like “the sand of the sea.” This means that the number is unknown. However, the number deeds not be higher that 144,000. Genesis 22:17 says that the seed of Abraham would be like the sand of the sea, and according to The Christian Greek Scriptures this seed turned out to be 144,000 in number. So just as the number of those who get a resurrection are counted in billions, it is possible that those who pass the final test after the 1,000 years and support the sovereignty of Jehova God may be counted in billions as well.
. The study notes in NWT13 of Romans 3:23-25 give much good information.
. A detailed study of how “death gave up the dead in it” is found in the article, “Judgment Day which is the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ” in the category, “Bible Study.”
The main point of this study is that the view that Jehovah’s Witnesses will survive the great tribulation and all others will be eternally annihilated has no support in the Holy Scriptures whatsoever.
The Scriptures show that only persons who have sinned against the holy spirit will not get a resurrection. Jesus bought all the descendants of Adam by his death. And because most persons of the between 20 and 27 billion who have lived on earth have not had the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice, they will get a resurrection during the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus to have their chance.
The members of the present Governing Body believe that Jesus did not die for all Adam’s descendants but only for all sorts of these descendants, those who will be saved. Based on this view, the members of the Governing Bodt have devalued and restricted both the ransom sacrifice and the resurrection.
When the great tribulation comes, there will be 8 billion+ people on the earth. The great crowd will survive the great tribulation. Because most of the 8 billion+ have not had the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice, they cannot be eternally annihilated. However, the prophecy in Ezekiel chapter 38 suggests that a great number of these may die because of catastrophes in the nature and of war. These will get a resurrection on Judgment Day. What will happen with the ignorant ones who are left we do not know. But we know that Jehovah will judge them in righteousness.
ANOTHER VERY IMPORTANT ARTICLE: “JUDGMENT DAY WHICH IS THE THOUSAND YEAR REIGN OF JESUS CHRIST”
CATEGORY: “BIBLE STUDY”