This is an article dealing with the problems caused by the lack of knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek on the part of the members of the Governing Body.
Being a Christian does not require a particular secular education. But being a Bible translator requires an intimate knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The same is true with those who are interpreters of the text of the Bible. The members of the Governing Body claim that they are appointed by God as interpreters of the Bible. This would require that at least one of them had an intimate knowledge of the biblical languages. But this is not the case.
The king of the north (Daniel 11:26
An example of how the lack of knowledge of the biblical languages on the part of the members of the Governing Body leads the Witnesses astray, is their interpretation of the actions of the king of the north in Daniel 11:26. This king is identified as the German Empire in World War I, and the conclusion is that the prophecy says that the German Empire would be defeated. However, this is based on a wrong translation of verse 26. The Hebrew text says explicitly that the army of the king of the north would be the victor. So, if the king of the north in verse 26 is the German Empire, this would make that verse a false prophecy.
The sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46
The members of the Governing Body believe that when the great tribulation comes, Jehovah’s Witnesses will survive and all the 8 billion+ humans who are living at that time will experience everlasting annihilation. The basic text that is used to support this view is the illustration and prophecy about the sheep and the goats. However, Greek grammar requires that those who will experience everlasting cutting-off are not all the inhabitants of the nations of the world but only some of these inhabitants.
“The nations” and “Gog and Magog” in Revelation 20:8, 9
The members of the Governing body believes that when Satan is released after the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ, he will mislead “those nations in the four corners of the earth.” (Revelation 20:8) The same grammatical rule that is applied to show the identity of the goats, must also be applied to those who are misled by Satan. This means that Satan will not mislead “the nations” but only some inhabitants of these nations, and the interperation of the members of the Governing Body is wrong.
Acts 4:13 says: “Now when they saw the outspokenness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were astonished.” While the apostles had not attended the rabbinic schools, they could read the Scriptures in Hebrew and Aramaic, and some of them understood Greek. Because only the Hebrew Scriptures were complete in their day, some of the first Christians received miraculous speech of wisdom and knowledge by holy spirit in order to teach others. (1 Corinthians 12:8) And because the writers of the books of the Christian Greek Scriptures were ‘inspired by holy spirit,’ a special education was not required. (2 Peter 1:21)
The life histories of the members of the Governing Body show that they are uneducated and ordinary men. They should not be criticized because of their lack of education, because to become a spiritual Christian is not dependent on a particular secular education, as we see in the case of Peter and John. However, the members of the Governing Body claim to be a group who are appointed by God to interpret the Bible for all Jehovah’s servants on the earth. They claim that everything they say and write is “spiritual food at the right time” from God.
Because the Bible is complete, no Christian today receives miraculous speech of wisdom or knowledge, so the only way to be able to interpret the text of the Bible is by an intimate knowledge of the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages. And no member of the Governing Body has any knowledge of these biblical languages. Because of this, they are led astray when they interpret the Bible, and so they can only lead others astray with them. As Jesus said in Matthew 15:14, “If, then, a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
Chapter 7 in my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, shows how the members of the Governing Body have misunderstood and twisted several Greek words. They have given these words meanings and references that they do not have in the Christian Greek Scriptures. The consequence of this is that the lives of tens of thousands of Witnesses have been ruined because they have been disfellowshipped on the basis of the wrong meanings and references the Governing Body has ascribed to Greek words.
THE MISUNDERSTANDING OF THE KING OF THE NORTH IN DANIEL 11:26
One article that is a glaring example of the lack of knowledge of the original biblical languages on the part of the members of the Governing Body is the article “Who is the “King of the North” today?” in the study edition of The Watchtower of May 2020. There are several errors in this article, but I will discuss one of them that is found on page 13:
10 Daniel then points forward to what would happen to the German Empire and the military force that it had built. The prophecy states that the king of the north “will not stand.” Why not? “Because they will plot schemes against him. And those eating his delicacies will bring his downfall.” (Dan. 11:25b, 26a) Back in Daniel’s day, those eating “the king’s delicacies” included royal officials in “the king’s service.” (Dan. 1:5) To whom does the prophecy here refer? It refers to high-ranking officials of the German Empire—including the emperor’s generals and military advisers—who eventually helped bring down the monarchy. The prophecy not only foretold the fall of the empire but also mentioned the outcome of the war with the king of the south. Speaking of the king of the north, it states: “As for his army, it will be swept away, and many will fall down slain.” (Dan. 11:26b) In the first world war, just as foretold, the German army was “swept away” and many did “fall down slain.” That war proved to be the deadliest in human history up until that time.
Verse 11:26 speaks about “the king of the north,” who is applied to the German Empire in World War I. The quotation says that as a fulfillment of 11:26 “the German army was “swept away”— the German Empire was defeated in World War I.
The problem, however, is that the prophecy in 11:26 says the very opposite of what the members of the Governing Body claim that it says. The conclusion of the Governing Body that is stated in the article is based on a wrong translation of the verse. Consequently, because the members of the Governing Body do not understand Hebrew and therefore cannot base their interpretation on an analysis of the Hebrew text, they have made this grave error.
The following is a literal translation of Daniel 11:26 with the NWT13 translation below it:
Those eating his delicate food will bring his downfall. But his army, it will overflow and many will fall down slain.
Those eating his delicacies will crush him. “As for his army, it will be swept away, and many will fall down slain.
The important differences in the translations relate to the destiny of the army of the king of the north. My translation shows that this army will be victorious, while NWT13 shows that this army will be defeated. Why do I say that the rendering of NWT13 is wrong? This is because the Hebrew verb shātap (“overflow”) is Qal imperfect 3rd person singular masculine. The Qal stem is active and not passive, and this is the crucial point. To translate this active verb with an English passive verb indisputably is wrong! I will illustrate this.
A clause can be analyzed in two ways, either grammatically as predicate, subject, object, or semantically as agent (the actor) and patient (the one who is acted upon). I will apply this to the two clauses below:
Napoleon defeated the British-led coalition at Waterloo.
Napoleon was defeated by the British-led coalition at Waterloo.
In the active clause above, “defeated” is the predicate, “Napoleon” is the subject, and “the British-led coalition” is the object. The subject is the agent and the object is that patient.
In the second clause, the passive expression “was defeated” is the predicate, and “Napoleon” is the subject. There is no object, but “the British-led coalition” is the adverbial. The adverbial is the agent, and the subject is the patient.
We cannot translate an active clause with a passive clause because this would cause the agent and patient to switch positions, and the meaning of the clause will be the opposite of its real meaning. In other words, the one who is acting in an active clause is changed into the one being acted upon in a passive clause.
In the NWT13 rendering of Daniel 11:26, the king of the north (supposedly the German Empire) is acted upon and is defeated. In my translation, the king of the north (supposedly the German Empire) acts upon someone who is not identified and defeats this unidentified patient.
The verb shātap occurs four times in Daniel chapter 11, and a comparison of the renderings shows the inconsistency of the translators of NWT13:
10“As for his sons, they will prepare for war and assemble a vast, great army. He will certainly advance and sweep through (shātap, qal) like a flood. But he will go back, and he will wage war all the way to his fortress.
22And the arms of the flood will be swept away (shātap, nifal) on account of him, and they will be broken; as will be the Leader of the covenant.
26And those eating his delicacies will bring his downfall.“ As for his army, it will be swept away (shātap, qal), and many will fall down slain.
40“In the time of the end the king of the south will engage with him in a pushing, and against him the king of the north will storm with chariots and horsemen and many ships; and he will enter into the lands and sweep through (shātap, qal) like a flood.
The verb is in the active qal stem in 11:10, 11:26, and 1140. In 11:10 and 40, shātap is correctly translated with the active English phrase “will sweep through,” But in 11:26, shātap is wrongly translated with the English passive phrase, “will be swept away.” In 11:22, shātap is correctly translated with the English passive phrase, “will be swept away.” This is correct because the nifal stem is passive, and if 11:26 should have a passive meaning, the verb should have been in the nifal stem and not in the active qal stem.
But why do the NIV and some other translations have a passive rendering like NWT13 in 11:26, if such a rendering is wrong? As for the NIV, the reason for the passive rendering evidently is the belief that Daniel contains history in prophetic disguise and that a large portion of Daniel chapter 11 describes the history of the Syrian king Antiochus IV Epiphanes. According to this view, 11:26 refers to the Egyptian king Ptolemy VI Philometor. Because his army was defeated, a passive translation was needed to express this defeat and enshrine their theory.
The members of the Governing Body, who oversaw the translation of NWT13, and the translators believe that the book of Daniel contains real prophecies. So, this could not be the reason for their translation. Whether the members of the Governing Body chose the passive rendering to fit their new interpretation of Daniel 11:26 or due to their lack of proficiency with the biblical languages, I do not know. In either case, their translation is erroneous.
The members of the Governing Body have expanded their translation error, in 11:26, by casting the German Empire in the role of the king of the north in World War I. If the German Empire were applied to the correct translation of Daniel 11:26, this verse would amount to a false prophecy, inasmuch as it would appear to have foretold the German Empire to be the victor of World War I.
. The Hebrew conjunction waw usually is translated as “and,” thus binding two elements together. But the conjunction can express a contrast as well. The contrast in verse 26 is between the king who will experience his downfall and his army that will become victorious. Because “his army” stands before the verb, it is stressed, and that gives strength to the contrast. This is shown in my translation by placing “his army” before the comma, and then referring to it by using the pronoun “it.”
. Some grammars, such as An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax by B.K. Waltke and M O’Connor, argue that there is a passive Qal. On page 373, this grammar says: “The Masoretes recognized Qal as an active stem, but there is much evidence that Biblical Hebrew also had a passive counterpart.” This may or may not be the case. However, the few examples that the grammar gives have a different pointing (vocalization) than Qal verbs. The verb shātap in 11:26 has a normal Qal pointing, even having a consonant marking the vowel “o.”, so, a passive meaning is not possible.
. A discussion of how the NIV manipulated the text of Daniel 11:26 is found in my book When Was the Book of Daniel Written? A Philological, Linguistic, and Historical Approach, pages 214-216.
THE MISUNDERSTANDING OF THE GOATS IN MATTHEW 25:31-46)
Most of the illustrations of Jesus just illustrate important spiritual truths. But the illustration in Matthew 25:31-46 has a time setting, and therefore it is both an illustration and a prophecy. The time setting is seen in verses 31, 32:
31 “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
The members of the present Governing Body apply these words to the great tribulation. But there are strong arguments in favor of applying the words to the presence of Jesus Christ that started in the year 1914. In the illustration the sheep represent the people who are blessed by God and who will inherit “the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world,” which is the earthly kingdom that will turn the earth into a paradise.” (25:34) The goats are cursed by God, and they will go “into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels, which means “everlasting cutting off.” (25:41, 46)
The members of the present Governing Body teach that when the great tribulation comes, 20 million+ Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are the sheep, will survive, while 8 billion+, “all the nations,” that are the goats, will be everlastingly annihilated. That “all the nations” are the goats and will be eternally annihilated is a false doctrine. And one likely reason for this doctrine is that none of the members of the Governing Body knows biblical Greek. I can say this because the present identification of the goats is a violation of Greek grammar.
I will now give an overview of how the view of the identity have changed during the last 100 years. In 1923, J.F. Rutherford gave a lecture about the sheep and the goats, and this lecture was printed in The Watchtower of October 15, 1923, pages 308, 309, and 313. We read:
The judgment of the parable cannot be reasonably applied to the nations of earth as now constituted, such as France, Britain, the United States, etc; for none of these nations is composed entirely of sheep or of goats. The separation does not appear to be that of one nation from another nation. The great court sits, how ever, in public judgment of those people composing the nations, some of whom are represented under the symbol sheep, while others are symbolized by goats.
To whom, then, do the symbols sheep and goats apply? We answer: Sheep represent all the peoples of the nations, not spirit-begotten but disposed toward righteousness, who mentally acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Lord and who are looking for and hoping for a better time under his reign. Goats represent all that class who claim to be Christians, but who do not acknowledge Christ as the great Redeemer and King of mankind, but claim that the present evil order of things on this earth constitutes Christ’s kingdom.
There is a large number of people in the denominational churches and outside of them who do not claim consecration, but who now see enough of the truth to convince them that the kingdom is at hand and who rejoice in the fact that the King is here. It is not at all unreasonable to conclude that there are millions now hearing about God’s plan of salvation who will pass through the time of trouble and never die, being amongst the first that will have opportunity for a trial for life everlasting. (the author’s italics)
As I will show below, Greek grammar excludes the possibility that the goats are identical with the inhabitants of “all the nations.” Rutherford did not know Greek, but F.W. Franz, who had studied Greek, at the university became a member of the Bethel family in 1920. We know that Rutherford used the expertise of Franz, so it is possible that this was one of the reasons why Rutherford did not identify “all the nations” as “the goats.”
I have in several articles presented a view of the goats as almost the same view as Rutherford had. Twelve years after the lecture of Rutherford, his conclusions were still standing. The Golden Age of February 1, 1935, page 221, says:
To whom, then, do the symbols “sheep” and “goats” apply? “Sheep” represent that class of people of the nations who, though not begotten by the spirit of God, but disposed toward righteousness, mentally acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Lord and who are looking for and hoping for a better time under His reign.
Such, of a docile temperament, believe in the Almighty God and believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of mankind. They strive sincerely to do right and want to do good. They do not claim to be consecrated followers of the Lord, but they have great respect and love for God and His people. They manifest a sheep-like disposition.
“Goats” represent those of another class, who claim to be “Christians”. They do not acknowledge Christ Jesus as Jehovah’s King, but claim that the existing disorder of things, created by men’s hands and by them proudly designated as “civilization”, constitutes “Christendom”, or Christ’s kingdom, and that it must at all costs be preserved, perpetuated, rebuilt, or “recovered”.
Since the “goat” class, when judged by The King, is to suffer a punishment similar to that “prepared for THE devil and his angels”, it is reasonably evident that this class is moved by and manifests the Devil’s spirit; hence we may be aided in locating the class by observing its spirit and its conduct. (the author’s italics)
We note the words of the last part of the quotation, that all nations or all humans should not be separated into two groups. And the goats were not all those who did not support God’s Kingdom. But the goats were persons who manifested the Devil’s spirit, and this could be seen by others. This is a correct identification of both the sheep and the goats. The Watchtower of August 17, 1937, page 252, also showed that the goats were persons of ill will who persecuted the people of God:
The persons of ill will, particularly the religionists, being of a cruel and extremely selfish heart, persecute the witnesses of Jehovah, and the Lord likens them unto the “goats”, and thus the cruel ones ill-treating Jehovah’s Witnesses bear testimony against themselves and convict themselves…The people of good will know that the religionists have not the favor of God, because they are persecuting God’s children and servants.
Seventeen years after Rutherford’s lecture in 1923, a new identification of the sheep and the goats was expressed. The Watchtower of May 1, 1940, page 138, showed that the goats were all the persons of the world, except the sheep in Jehovah’s organization:
The Lord Jesus Christ, the great Judge who now sits in judgment as the High Officer of Jehovah God, is judging the nations. He is separating “the goats” from “his sheep”. (Matt. 25: 31-46) “The goats” symbolically describes all those persons on the earth who are against The THEOCRATIC GOVERNMENT. That means everyone that is not for The THEOCRACY, because all such are against it: “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” (Matt. 12: 30) The Lord’s “other sheep” are those who flee to the “city of refuge”, that is, the Lord’s organization, who remain there and who joyfully serve God and The THEOCRATIC GOVERNMENT. When that judgment work of the Lord is done, then the “goats” will have fully identified themselves as God’s enemies and then the Lord’s “other sheep” will have identified themselves as on the Lord’s side, willingly and joyfully serving God and his government of righteousness. Then the final execution of the judgment will be next in order. Concerning the goats, that is, the enemies of God, he says through his prophet (Zeph. 1: 18): “He shall make even a speedy, riddance of all them [that is, all the goats] that dwell in the land”; (R.V.) “make an end, yea, a terrible end, of all them.”
This new viewpoint could not be standing, because it is a violation of the Greek grammar and of the text of the illustration. Interestingly, the leaders of the Witnesses at the end of the 1940s understood that this new viewpoint that the goats were all people who were not Christians, was wrong. The Watchtower of May 15, 1949, pages 150 and 156 corrected this view. 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.
The view from 1940 that all people on earth who were not Witnesses were “goats” has now been abandoned. There are two important points in the quotation. First, Greek grammar forbids that the inhabitants of all the nations can be identified as goats. But some unidentified people among these inhabitants must be the goats. Second, because the goats got the adverse judgment for their refusal of doing good to Christ’s brothers, they must have been acquainted with these brothers in one way or another. This is an important observation that the present members of the Governing body ignores.
. See my article, “’For many are called, but few are chosen’ — What the members of the Governing Body do not understand.” Category, “The Governing Body.”
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 rule that can help us answer the questions regarding the goats and the nations and whether the nations that are mentioned in Revelation 20:8 are those who are rebelling against God.
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.
What is the view of the present members of the Governing Body? I looked up all the references to Matthew 25:31-32 in the 21st century, and I have the following quotations: The Watchtower October 15, 1995, page 22, says.
23 If we analyze Jesus’ activity in the parable, we observe him finally judging all the nations. The parable does not show that such judging would continue over an extended period of many years, as if every person dying during these past decades were judged worthy of everlasting death or everlasting life. It seems that the majority who have died in recent decades have gone to mankind’s common grave. (Revelation 6:8; 20:13) The parable, though, depicts the time when Jesus judges the people of “all the nations” who are then alive and facing the execution of his judicial sentence.
The definite article “the” in the phrase “the people” of “all the nations” shows that there are not some people that are judged but all the inhabitants of all the nations. Revelation -Its grand climax at hand, (2006) page 123, uses the word “mankind,” which includes “all the nations.”
13 Additionally, we read: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory . . . all the nations will be gathered before him.”c The whole human race will not be in heaven when this prophecy is fulfilled. Certainly, those who “depart into everlasting cutting-off” will not be in heaven. (Matthew 25:31-33, 41, 46) Instead, mankind stands on earth in Jesus’ view, and he turns his attention to judging them. Similarly, the great crowd is “before the throne and before the Lamb” in that it stands in the view of Jehovah and his King, Christ Jesus, from whom it receives a favorable judgment.
Insight I, (2015) pages 1183, 1184, uses the same words as the Watchtower of 1995, “the people of the nations.”
The sheep and the goats (Mt 25:31-46). As stated in verses 31, 32, 41, 46, what is here illustrated is the separating and judging of the people of the nations when the Son of man arrives in his glory. This illustration is part of Jesus’ reply to his disciples’ question concerning ‘the sign of his presence and the conclusion of the system of things.’—Mt 24:3
The three quotations above show clearly that the view of the members of the Governing Body is that “all the nations” are separated into sheep and goats, and not “some people of the nations.” This view was elucidated in the book Pure Worship of Jehovah Restored at Last! (2018) pages and 178-180, This book shows that the sheep are baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses (and their children), and they will survive the great tribulation. The goats are all other people on the earth, and they will be eternally annihilated in the great tribulation.
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 survival. The sheep and the goats (Mt 25:31-46). As stated in verses 31, 32, 41, 46, what is here illustrated is the separating and judging of the people of the nations when the Son of man arrives in his glory. This illustration is part of Jesus’ reply to his disciples’ question concerning ‘the sign of his presence and the conclusion of the system of things.’—Mt 24:3.
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. The article from 1949 is an example showing that the leaders of the Witnesses took the Greek grammar of the text of the Bible seriously. 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 the Greek grammar of the illustration of the sheep and the goat, or they simply ignore it.
A MISUNDERSTANDING OF THE IDENTITY OF “THE NATIONS” AND “GOG AND MAGOG” IN REVELATION 20:8, 9
There is also a parallel example to Matthew 25:32 in Revelation 20:8, 9, and my translation is:
8 And he [Satan] will go out to mislead (planaō, aorist active infinitive) the nations (ta ethnē, neuter plural accusative) those in the four corners of the earth, the Gog (masculine singular accusative) and Magog to gather (aorist active infinitive) them (autous, personal pronoun third person masculine plural accusative) to the war, those being (ōn, relative pronoun, masculine plural accusative). And their (autōn, personal pronoun third person masculine plural accusative) number like the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the encampment of the holy ones and the beloved city. But fire came down out of heaven and devoured them (autous, personal pronoun third person masculine plural accusative)
In verse 8, the verb “mislead” (planaō) is aorist infinitive. An infinitive has no temporal reference, and this infinitive shows the purpose of Satan, namely, “to go out to mislead the nations.” But the text does not say that he succeeded in misleading the nations. On the contrary, the text says that Satan will “gather them.” The personal pronoun “them” is masculine, and therefore it cannot refer back to the nations that are neuter.
So, the situation is exactly the same as with those that would be baptized (Matthew 28:19): people of all the nations and not all the nations would be baptized. The situation is also the same as with the goats: they are not the inhabitants of all the nations, but some of these inhabitants. Satan will not mislead the nations at the four corners of the earth, but some people of these nations. This is seen by the use of the masculine personal pronoun three times in verses 8 and 9.
What about Gog and Magog? The word “Gog” has the masculine singular article, and therefore, Gog cannot refer back to the nations that are neuter plural. The word Magog does not have the article, but grammatically speaking, when two names are connected with “and” only the first name has the article, and the article is implied in connection with the second name. This means that Gog and Magog are grammatically dual, and because of this, the plural pronoun “them” can refer back to Gog and Magog. This means that “Gog and Magog” are not designations of the nations at the four corners of the earth, but designations of those who attack the encampment of the holy ones and the beloved city are called “Gog and Magog.”
It is sad to see that those who have written articles in the Watchtower literature have not understood the meaning and grammar of Revelation 20:8. The Watchtower June 1, 1974, page 348, says
The issue that Satan will bring up is the same one that he raised in the Garden of Eden, namely, the rightfulness of Jehovah’s sovereignty, which requires absolute obedience of human creatures to God’s laws and prohibitions.
Who are the ones the Devil misleads? They are persons from among perfected humankind who become rebellious. They are “as the sand of the sea,” meaning that they appear to be numberless. This does not imply that the majority of mankind will rebel along with the Devil. The Bible uses this expression with regard to a number indefinite but large enough to make an impression of a big crowd.—Compare Joshua 11:4; Judges 7:12.
The misled ones are called “nations,” not in the sense that national or racial divisions exist among earth’s perfected population. Rather, it indicates that these rebellious ones separate themselves from the loyal majority, refusing to recognize Jehovah’s sovereignty and attempting to establish an earthly sovereignty of their own, like a national sovereignty. They may even be disunited among themselves, as is generally the case with selfish people grasping for power. So they may have diverse group sovereignties. They are united in one thing, however; that is, in opposing Jehovah’s sovereignty, just as the nations had done a thousand years earlier in the war of Har–Magedon that destroyed the old system of things.—Rev. 17:13, 14.
These “nations” are said to be in the “four corners of the earth” because they are far off from God’s sovereignty. In a spiritual sense they are far away from those who are loyal to God. God does not become “all things to everyone” in their case.
Their being termed “Gog and Magog” is to describe the spirit they have and the action they take, like that of “Gog of the land of Magog.” The prophet Ezekiel, centuries beforehand, had pointed out that Gog (the Devil), by means of a crowd of people making up the political and military forces of the nations, would attack Jehovah’s people. This took place when Jehovah’s people had been spiritually restored and were dwelling in peace, without literal walls, but trusting in God as their protection. It is now a thousand years since that crowd was destroyed at Har–Magedon. But now a comparable attempt is made. So it is not by a resurrection of people of the Gog-and-Magog nature that the war is waged against God’s sovereignty. Rather, the same spirit manifested by the Gog-and-Magog crowd of a thousand years previous is aroused in some of the perfected humans.
The Witnesses who translated the Hebrew and Aramaic part of the Bible had a good knowledge of classical Hebrew. But they did not understand the nuances of the Hebrew verbs. The Witnesses who translated the Greek part of the Bible likewise had a good knowledge of New Testament Greek. But the whole NWT13 in many places has inaccurate translations because of the idiomatic translation principles introduced by the Governing Body.
But when there are Witnesses who have a good knowledge of the original languages of the Bible, why do we find so many elementary errors regarding the grammar of the original languages in the Watchtower literature? Geoffrey Jackson of the Governing Body said in the court of the Royal Commission in Australia in 2015, that the members of the Governing Body do not usually write articles and books that are published by the Watchtower Society. But we “are the guardians of our doctrine and beliefs”, were his words.
And here is the problem. When an article or a new book is written, the work is done by one or more Witnesses who do not know the original languages. The members of the Governing Body are checking every new article and book. But neither do they know the original Bible languages. And those who know the Bible languages are not consulted. Therefore, what is published sometimes violates the rules of grammar and syntax in the original languages of the Bible.
Being servants of God is not dependent on a person’s secular education. And many Christians today are uneducated and ordinary people. What counts is a strong faith in God and in the Bible and a willingness to follow the examples of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless, in some situations, a particular secular education is necessary. Bible translators, for example, must have an intimate knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. And the same is true of those who attempt to explain and interpret the text of the Bible.
In their exposition of Daniel 11:26, the members of the Governing Body have erred seriously because they have not understood the Hebrew grammar of the verse. In Matthew 25:31, 32 and Revelation 20:8, 9 the interpretation of the members of the Governing Body is contradicted by the Greek grammar.
The members of the Governing Body have all power over the doctrines, the assets, and the money of the organization. But their lack of knowledge of the original languages prevents them from being true Bible expositors. And their lack of modesty in not recognizing this limitation has prevented them from accepting input even from fellow Witnesses outside of their inner circle. The members of the Governing Body work together as a group, and so at least one of them should have a good knowledge of the biblical languages. But as mentioned, that is not the case.