Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 3:16, All Scripture is inspired of God are used to show that the whole Bible is inspired by God. But this is the wrong application. Because only the Hebrew Scriptures were collected when this was written, the phrase “all scripture” can at most refer to the Hebrew Scriptures. However, Greek grammar suggests the translation, “Every scripture that is inspired by God.” On the assumption that God chose the correct 66 books in the Bible, the translation “every scripture that is inspired by God” implies that the whole Bible is inspired by God.
The Bible Students in the 19th century and Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 20th century believed that every word in the Bible was inspired by God, that every account was included with a purpose, and that all the nuances of the original text are important. This is rejected by the members of the present Governing Body.
- The words of Jesus regarding the resurrection are rejected
Hymenaeus and Philetus had “deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection already had occurred.” (2 Timotheus 2:17, 18) In a similar way, the nine members of the Governing Body have deviated from the truth because they have rejected the words of Jesus in Matthew chapters 10, 11, and 12 regarding who will get a resurrection. The error of the members of the Governing Body is analyzed and described in detail.
- Great parts of the Hebrew Scriptures have no meaning for us today
One glaring example of how the meaning of Hebrew texts is taken away is the Song of Solomon. The members of the Governing Body say that the book describes enduring love between a man and a woman and between married couples. This is not true because the book describes erotic love (eros) between a shepherd and a maiden. But the members of the Governing Body are reminded of enduring love when they read the Song of Solomon. And so, their views and opinions are masquerading as the meaning of the Hebrew text itself.
The prophetic drama of several persons speaking and acting is ignored by the Governing Body; it has no meaning for us today. This is a rejection of the principle that every account was included in the Bible by holy spirit for a particular purpose.
The book contains a great number of beautiful expressions of erotic love. But the text of the Bible is so important that God would not have allocated eight chapters and 117 verses just to describe erotic love between two unknown and unnamed persons. However, if the book contains a prophetic drama where the shepherd is a type of Jesus Christ and the Shulammite is a type of his bride of 144,000, the erotic expressions get an antitypical application. Then, these expressions are beautiful ways to analogize the strong and deep love between the shepherd Jesus and his bride.
The antitypical application of the drama is shown.
- The members of the Governing Body have elevated themselves as prophets above the text of the Bible
The Governing Body also questions the full inspiration of the Bible by elevating themselves as prophets. An example is the book Pure Worship Of Jehovah — Restored At Last (2018). Instead of analyzing the Hebrew text of Ezekiel, showing what the meaning is and how it applies to us today, as all other Watchtower books dealing with the prophets have done, they ask, instead, what the text of Ezekiel reminds the Governing Body of. And these reminders are presented in the Pure Worship book as the meaning of the scriptural texts in Ezekiel.
Many of the reminders are quite petty, and others are allegorical. The members of the present Governing Body use this approach in all their comments on the Bible. In this way, the literal meaning of the text of the Bible is ignored, and the full inspiration of the Bible is called into question because the views and opinions of the members of the Governing Body have become the authority rather than the text of the Bible.
The word “inspiration” in relation to the Bible means different things to different people. Therefore, when inspiration is discussed, we need to define the word and show how we are using it, and we also need to understand how those with whom we are discussing the subject of “inspiration” understand the term.
THE MOST COMMONLY USED SCRIPTURE TO PROVE INSPIRATION
I will start with 2 Timothy 3:16 as rendered in three different translations (NWT13):
All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for settings straight, for disciplining in righteousness. (NWT13)
Denn alle Schrift, von Gott eingegeben, ist nütze zur Lehre, zur Strafe, zur Besserung, zur Züchtigung in der Gerechtigkeit. (Luther 1912)
Every inspired scripture has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, or for reformation of manners and discipline in right living. (NEB 1970)
Most Bible translations render the first clause of the verse in a similar way as NWT13. And the argument that is used by many Bible readers is that this verse shows that “All Scripture is inspired by God,” that is to say, all 66 books in the Bible are inspired by God. However, the words of the Luther Bible and the NEB cannot be used in a similar way to make that argument. These translations show that ‘every scripture that is inspired by God,’ is beneficial. This is a very different meaning compared with the meaning of NWT13. The words of the Luther Bible and the NEB indicate that the focus cannot at the outset be on the 66 books in the Bible. But every reader must find out which scriptures are a part of the divine canon, and then he or she can rightly conclude that these scriptures are inspired and beneficial.
Interestingly, both the Greek text and the situation when Paul wrote the letter suggest that the Luther Bible and the NEB have better translations than NWT13 and most other translations. Paradoxically, and contrary to the popular view, the text of these two translations represents stronger arguments in favor of all 66 books of the Bible being inspired by God than a cursory reading of NWT13 and most other translations might suggest. How so?
“Every” or “all”?
Regarding the difference between the two words in the heading, an English grammar says:
We use both all and every to refer to the total number of something. All refers to a complete group. Everyrefers to each member of a complete group.
The difference is that if the word “all” is used in 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul can only refer to a complete group of Scriptures. The only complete group of scriptures that existed in Paul’s day was the Hebrew scriptures. Consequently, if “all” is the correct word, Paul’s reference must be solely to the 39 books of the Hebrew scriptures, and not to the 27 books of the Christian Greek Scriptures that, at this point in time, were not collected into a group of scriptures.
However, the use of the word “every” may include all the 66 books in the Bible as inspired. How so? We can put the issue this way: Paul wrote: “Every scripture that is inspired by God is beneficial.” To what does “every scripture” refer? Paul’s words imply that there are some scriptures that are inspired by God and in order to identify these, God has caused a divine canon of 66 books to be formed. This means that “every scripture” must refer to each book in this canon; these scriptures are inspired and beneficial.
From the point of view of the identification of the books that God has inspired, the rendering “Every scripture that is inspired by God” is better than “All scripture is inspired by God.” The reason is that “all scripture is inspired by God” can only refer to the 39 books in the Hebrew canon. But “every scripture that is inspired by God” invites the readers to identify the present divine canon, and when we have done that, we know, on the basis of the words of Paul, that every individual scripture in this canon is inspired and beneficial.
What can we learn from the Greek grammar of the verse? There is no article in the phrase pasa graphē (“every scripture”), and the rule is that when a substantive is preceded by pas (“all, every”) and there is no article, the meaning is “every” and not “the whole” or “all”. So, the grammar supports the rendering “every scripture.”
“Every scripture that is inspired” or “Every scripture is inspired”?
The verb in the English translations is “is.” But this verb is not written in Greek but is implied. The problem is where to place the implied verb in the clause: Is the meaning, “All/every scripture is inspired by God”? or is it, All/every scripture that is inspired by God.” Because “every” has strong support as the best rendering, and “every” focuses on each individual scripture, most likely the best rendering is, “Every scripture that is inspired by God,” or “Every inspired scripture.”
It is impossible to use 2 Timothy 3:16 alone as evidence that the 66 books of the Bible are inspired by God. But on the assumption that God’s spirit directed the assembling of the canon, 2 Timotheus 3:16 can be used to show that each of the 66 scriptures in this canon is inspired by God and beneficial.
OTHER IMPORTANT SCRIPTURES INDICATING INSPIRATION
Peter’s words in 2 Peter 1:20, 21, are of particular importance. NWT84 says:
For you know this first, that no prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation. For prophecy was by no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were born along by holy spirit.
The word “prophecy” does not only refer to sayings about the future. But the word refers to any expression related to the past, present, or future that is inspired by God. The word “scripture” in this text must refer to the books of the Hebrew Scriptures. In 2 Timothy 3:16, the word “inspired” literally (“god-breathed”) is used, and in 2 Peter 1:21, we learn that holy spirit directed the writing of the prophecies.
Jesus used the Hebrew scriptures as his authority, and he quoted them extensively. In Matthew 22:43 (NWT13), he says, “How is it, then, that David under inspiration calls him Lord?” The word “inspiration” is literally “in spirit.”
Paul’s words in Romans 15:4 are also important.
For all the things that were written beforehand were written for our instruction, so that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.
We see that “all the things” in the Hebrew scriptures are written for our instruction. And this instruction cannot just consist of petty things because their aim or purpose is to give us hope. We may apply this to the books of the Hebrew Scriptures. If the only things we can gather from many of these books are some moral principles, these books do not give us hope. But if these books have prophetic meaning, and they are pointing to our time and to the future, they give us hope. This means that the Governing Body’s new way of interpreting the Bible is a violation of Romans 15:4 because it takes away our hope.
The conclusion of this section is that the Christian Greek Scriptures contain many expressions showing that the Hebrew Scriptures are inspired by God. But because the Christian Greek Scriptures were compiled only after these 39 writings were completed, they cannot contain any expressions regarding the inspiration of that yet to be assembled collection. But if we combine our confidence in the canon with the words of 2 Timothy 3:16, that “every scripture that is inspired of God,” we also have a good argument for the inspiration of the Christian Greek Scriptures.
DIFFERENT VIEWS OF THE INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE
The Bible students in the 19th century and Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the 20th century believed in the full inspiration of the Bible. The book, All Scripture Is Inspired By God And Beneficial (1963), page 9, says:
While these men of God were awake and fully conscious, or while they were asleep in a dream, his spirit firmly implanted the message emanating from the divine origin of the line of communication. Upon receiving the message, it was the prophet’s responsibility to relay it in word form to others.
This means that while the words of the message were chosen by the writer, every message and every account originated with God and was given to his servants by his spirit. Because Jehovah God does not do anything without a purpose, the Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses believed that there is no “filling material” in the Holy Scriptures, but every account has a specific and intended meaning. In the 21st century, the members of the Governing Body have rejected this view; that is, they have rejected the full inspiration of the Bible. This is a false teaching! And we can say that just as Hymenaeus and Philetus had “deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection already had occurred” (2 Timotheus 2:17, 18), so the nine members of the Governing Body have likewise deviated from the truth, saying that many parts of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures have no meaning for us today, and even going so far as to reject to words of Jesus in Matthew chapters 10, 11, and 12 regarding who will get a resurrection. I will elucidate that.
|The nine men of the Governing Body have deviated from the truth and introduced false teachings by saying that many parts of the Hebrew Scriptures have no meaning for us today and by rejecting the words of Jesus regarding who will get a resurrection.|
When I met a person in my preaching from house to house who said he was Christian, I sometimes asked him or her: “Do you believe that everything in the Bible is inspired by God?” Often the answer has been in the affirmative. As a test, I have then asked: “Do you believe that the first humans were Adam and Eve and that they were created about 6,000 years ago, as the genealogy of Jesus in Luke 3:23-38 affirms?” The answer to this question has almost never been in the affirmative. Thus, a number of those who say they believe in the inspiration of the Bible do so only in a superficial way.
As a test for other persons, I have asked: “Do you believe that the creation accounts in the first chapters of Genesis are scientifically correct?” The answer was sometimes, Yes. I continued, “Do you agree that the order of creation that we see in Genesis chapter 1, is what we find in the sedimentary rocks?” “No, we cannot take the creation account literally. But it is scientifically correct that life on earth was created.” This shows that claiming to believe in the inspiration of the Bible is not the same as believing in the full inspiration of the Bible.
There are also many scholars who say that they believe that the Bible is inspired by God. But they reject the literal meaning of the text, and they are only interested in the moral principles that we can draw from the accounts in the Bible. Neither of the persons in the examples above believed that every word and every account in the Bible are inspired by God. They may believe that some of the Scriptures are inspired, but they do not believe in the full inspiration of the Bible.
The Watchtower literature in the 21st century has never cast any doubt upon the inspiration of the Bible. And if we asked each of the nine members of the Governing Body, they would say that they personally believe that the whole Bible is inspired by God. But, as in the case of the examples in the previous section, the way the members of the Governing Body treat the text of the Bible shows that they do not believe in its full inspiration. This is seen in three areas:
1) The words of Jesus in Matthew chapters 10, 11, and 12 regarding who will get a resurrection are rejected.
2) The members of the Governing Body say that large portions of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures are only filling material with no meaning for us today.
3) In a great number of cases, the literal meaning of the original text is not sought. But what the text reminds the Governing Body of is the spiritual food that they give to the Witnesses.
Each point shows that the members of the Governing Body do not accept the full inspiration of the Bible.
THE MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNING BODY HAVE REJECTED WHAT JESUS SAID ABOUT THE RESURRECTION
The members of the Governing Body believe that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah will never get a resurrection. But they are eternally annihilated.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF “JUDICIAL PUNISHMENT OF EVERLASTING FIRE”?
One argument that is used in favor of everlasting annihilation of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah is Jude 5-7.
5 Although you are fully aware of all of this, I want to remind you that Jehovah, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those not showing faith. 6 And the angels who did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place, he has reserved with eternal bonds in dense darkness for the judgment of the great day. 7 In the same manner, Sodʹom and Go·morʹrah and the cities around them also gave themselves over to gross sexual immorality and pursued unnatural fleshly desires; they are placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.
The Watchtower of June 1, 1988, page 30 had the following comments on the words of Jude:
One of the most pointed comments is in Jude 7. Jude had just spoken of (1) Israelites destroyed for lack of faith, and (2) angels who sinned and are ‘reserved with eternal bonds for the judgment of the great day.’ Then Jude wrote: “So too Sodom and Gomorrah . . . are placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.” This text has been applied to the actual cities’ being destroyed everlastingly, not the people. However, in view of Jude 5 and 6, likely most people would take Jude verse 7 to mean a judicial punishment of individuals. (Similarly, Matthew 11:20-24 would be understood as criticizing people, not stones or buildings.) In this light, Jude 7 would mean that the wicked people of Sodom/Gomorrah were judged and destroyed everlastingly.
Two arguments are used in connection with the words of Jude, 1) the words “Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them” refer to the people of these cities and not to stones and buildings, and 2) the words “judicial punishment of everlasting fire” refer to everlasting destruction.
Jude speaks about three judgments:
- Those who were not showing faith were destroyed.
- God has reserved the demons with eternal bonds for the judgment of the great day.
- The cities were undergoing the judicial judgment of everlasting fire.
We know that the demons will be everlastingly annihilated. But the words “destroyed” (apollymi) do not indicate everlasting annihilation. And the words “everlasting fire” do not necessarily indicate everlasting destruction. The example with the Edomites shows that. Isaiah 34:9, 10 says regarding the land of Edom:
9 Her streams will be changed into pitch, And her dust into sulfur, And her land will become like burning pitch.10 By night or by day it will not be extinguished; Its smoke will keep ascending forever. From generation to generation she will remain devastated; No one will pass through her forever and ever.
The word “her” is referred to in a footnote: “Evidently referring to Bozrah, the capital of Edom.” This comment is correct because verse 6 mentions Bozrah and Edom. Were the inhabitants of Edom destroyed everlastingly without any hope of a resurrection? Ezekiel 32:21, 29 gives the answer:
21 “‘From the depths of the Grave (sheōl) 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…
29 “‘E’dom is there, her kings and all her chieftains, who despite their mightiness, were laid among those slain by the sword; they too will lie with the uncircumcised ones and with those going down into the pit.
The word “grave” in verse 21 is translated from sheōl, and verse 29 shows that the inhabitants of Edom were in sheōl. Revelation 20:13 shows that the persons who are in hadēs (corresponding to sheōl) will get a resurrection. This means that in spite of the words, “her land will become like burning pitch…its smoke will keep ascending forever,” the people of Edom will get a resurrection. This shows that the words, “the judicial judgment of everlasting fire” do not mean “everlasting annihilation.”
There is a similar example with the inhabitants of Babylon, Jeremiah 51:1, 39.
1 “This is what Jehovah says: “Here I am raising up a destructive wind Against Babylon and the inhabitants of Leb-kaʹmai…39 When they are inflamed. I will set out their banquet and make them drunk, In order that they may exult; then they will sleep a lasting (NIV: ‘ōlam, “everlasting”) sleep, From which they will not wake up,” declares Jehovah.
The words that the people “will sleep an everlasting sleep, From which they will not wake up,” does not mean that they are everlastingly annihilated. Isaiah 14:9, 11, 15, says that the wicked inhabitants of Babylon will come to sheōl, and this shows that they will get a resurrection. And interestingly, there is a comparison with Sodoma and Gomorrah in Isaiah 13:19. My literal translation is above and the translation of NWT13 is below:
And Babylon… will become (wehāyā) like (ke) destruction/overthrow (mahpēkhā) [of] God (’ælōhim) [of]Sodom and Gomorrah’.
19 And Babylon, the most glorious of kingdoms, The beauty and the pride of the Chal·deʹans, Will be like Sodʹom and Go·morʹrah when God overthrew them.
The prophet says that the destiny of Babylon will be like the destiny of Sodom and Gomorrah. When we know that the people of Babylon will get a resurrection, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah will get a resurrection as well. A more direct saying that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah will get a resurrection, apart from what Jesus said, is difficult to find.
HYPERBOLES USED BY JESUS
I will first quote the words of Jesus regarding Sodom in Luke 10:8-12 (above) and Matthew 11:23 (below):
8 “Also, wherever you enter into a city and they receive you, eat what is set before you 9 and cure the sick ones in it and tell them: ‘The Kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But wherever you enter into a city and they do not receive you, go out into its main streets and say: 11 ‘We wipe off against you even the dust that sticks to our feet from your city. Nevertheless, know this, that the Kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you that it will be more endurable for Sodʹom in that day than for that city.
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 study note of Luke 10:12 says:
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 that 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 proverbial and was often mentioned in connection with God’s anger and judgment.—De 29:23; Isa 1:9: La 4:6. (the author’s bold font)
The study note of Matthew 11:23 says:
heaven: Here used metaphorically to denote a highly favored position.
the Grave: Or “Hades,” that is, the common grave of mankind. (See Glossary, “Grave.”) Here used figuratively to represent the debasement that Capernaum would experience.
The two study notes put the words of Jesus upside down. The claim is that the meaning of his words is the very opposite of the literal meaning of the words because they represent a hyperbole (exaggeration) and Jesus spoke figuratively. I will now make a study of how Jesus used hyperboles.
I do not want to tamper with the text of the Bible. Because of this, I take any passage in the Bible in the literal sense, if the context does not clearly indicate that the text should be understood in a non-literal way. I will, therefore, carefully consider the reasons given in the article for not taking Jesus’ words at face value. The Watchtower of June 1988, page 30, says:
“It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one particle of a letter of the Law to go unfulfilled.” “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.” (Luke 16:17; 21:33; Matthew 5:18; compare Hebrews 1:10-12.) We know that the literal heavens and earth will never pass away. (Psalm 78:69; 104:5; Ecclesiastes 1:4) Jesus also said: “It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:25) Certainly, Jesus did not mean that no rich man could ever become a disciple; some in the first century became anointed Christians. (1 Timothy 6:17-19) Jesus’ use of exaggeration was to stress how hard it is for a rich man to put God before material wealth and comforts.—Luke 12:15-21.
I will first deal with the words about heaven and earth.
Luke 16:17 (NWT13):
17Indeed, it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to go unfulfilled.
Luke 21:33 (NWT13):
33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.
Matthew 5:18 (NWT13):
18Truly I say to you that sooner would heaven and earth pass away than for one smallest letter or one stroke of a letter to pass away from the Law until all things take place.
Matthew 24:35 (NWT13):
35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.
Can these passages be used to show that Jesus’ words about Chorazin, Capernaum, Bethsaida, Sodom, and Gomorrah, in connection with Judgment Day represent a hyperbole and so should not be taken literally? Luke 16:17 and Matthew 5:18 are clearly not hyperboles. But these passages show that heaven and earth will never pass away. Does that mean that Luke 21:33 and Matthew 24:35, where it is said that heaven and earth will pass away, must be taken as hyperboles? Not necessarily.
I will use Hebrews 4:3 as an example. The text above is the NWT13 text, and the text below is the literal rendering in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures:
So I swore in my anger, “They will not enter into my rest.”
As I swore in the wrath of me If they will enter into the ceasing down of me.
Do you see what is strange with the NWT13 rendering? The Greek text is positive while the NWT13 is negative; the negative word “not” is lacking in the Greek text. The first Greek word in the sentence is ei. This word marks a cause or reason and can be translated by “since” or “because.” Or it can mark a condition, real or hypothetical, and can be translated by “if” or “since.”
So why is this positive word translated by the negative word “not”? The reason is that the words represent an oath, and oaths in Hebrew are expressed in the opposite way of what we would expect. The quote is from Psalm 95:11, where we find the Hebrew particle “im” meaning “if.” When this particle is found, the oath is negative “they shall not.” If the oath is positive, we find the words “im lo” meaning “if not.” This is the case in Isaiah 14:24.
The idea for these seemingly backhanded constructions is:
If (’im) you do it, then…= you must not do it.
If you do not (’im lo) do it, then…= you must do it.
Can this discussion of how oaths are expressed in Hebrew throw some light on the words of Jesus about the heaven and the earth? Quite possibly. Jesus could have used his words in Luke 21:33 and Matthew 24:35 as hyperboles. But there is nothing in the context suggesting that, and it would be strange since he uses the heaven and earth in the two parallel passages in Luke 16:17 and Matthew 5:18 in a literal way.
Jesus could also have expressed his words as an oath, and in that case, Luke 21:33 and 24:35 must be taken in a literal sense: “Heaven and earth will certainly not pass away, as my words will certainly not pass away.” If Jesus expressed his words as an oath, that would make the words emphatic, and that would fit the context both in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. Moreover, in that case, all the four expressions quoted above would express the same thought—heaven and earth will not pass away.
The other example of a hyperbole that is used is Mark 10:25:
25 It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.
It seems that the word kamēlos refers to the big animal with the name “camel,” that trymaliarefers to a hole and rafis refers to a needle. If correct, Jesus did make use of a hyperbole in this case. However, that does not have anything to do with the words used by Jesus in connection with Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Sodom. To be sure, Jesus also used a number of other hyperboles, but the conclusion to this discussion is that none of the hyperboles used by Jesus has anything to do with his words about these cities and Judgment Day. Moreover, the structures of the words about Sodom, Gomorrah, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Nineveh, show that these words could not have been expressed as oaths in Hebrew.
My conclusion is that if the claim is made that a text is a hyperbole — an exaggeration — that must be clearly shown by the context, as is the case in Mark 10:25. There is nothing in the context of Jesus’ words about Sodom, Gomorrah, and the Jewish cities indication that Jesus used hyperboles.
RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE CANNOT BE ETERNALLY ANNIHILATED
I continue to consider the arguments of the members of the Governing Body against the resurrection of certain people from the past in The Watchtower of June 1, 1988, page 30:
Looking elsewhere, we find it noteworthy that more than once the Bible links the Flood and Sodom/Gomorrah. In what context?
When asked about “the conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus foretold the coming “end” and a “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning.” (Matthew 24:3, 14, 21) He went on to speak of “the days of Noah” and what “occurred in the days of Lot” as being examples of people who took no note of warning about coming destruction. Jesus added: “The same way it will be on that day when the Son of man is to be revealed.” (Luke 17:26-30; compare Matthew 24:36-39.) Was Jesus illustrating just an attitude, or does the context in which he used these examples suggest that eternal judgments were involved?
Later, Peter wrote about God’s judgments and His punishing those deserving it. Then Peter used three examples: The angels that sinned, the ancient world of Noah’s time, and those destroyed in Sodom/Gomorrah. The latter, Peter said, ‘set a pattern for ungodly persons of things to come.’ (2 Peter 2:4-9) Thereafter, he compared the destruction that people suffered in the Deluge with the coming “day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.” That precedes the promised new heavens and new earth.—2 Peter 3:5-13.
Likewise, at the end of the present wicked system, will those whom God executes have had a final judgment? That is the indication of 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9: “It is righteous on God’s part to repay tribulation to those who make tribulation for you, but, to you who suffer tribulation, relief along with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels in a flaming fire, as he brings vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. These very ones will undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction from before the Lord and from the glory of his strength.”
There is an interesting similarity in phraseology between this description and what Jude said occurred in the case of Sodom. 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.
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. Of course, each of us can confirm that by his proving faithful to Jehovah now. In that way we will qualify to be alive in the new world to see whom he resurrects and whom he does not. We know that his judgments are perfect. Elihu assured us: “For a fact, God himself does not act wickedly, and the Almighty himself does not pervert judgment.”—Job 34:10, 12.
In the quotation above, the author of the article reads something into the text that is not there. There are references in the Christian Greek Scriptures to God’s judgments in the past, to the worldwide flood in the days of Noah, and to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. These judgments “set a pattern for ungodly persons of things to come,” as 2 Peter 2:6 says. This pattern shows that God judged persons in the past whose actions were bad and wicked, and, therefore, will judge persons whose actions are bad and wicked in the future. But no passage in the Bible speaks about the eternal destiny of peoples that were destroyed in the past. That the people that were destroyed in the great flood and in Sodom and Gomorrah were eternally annihilated is fiction or fantasy made up by the members of the Governing Body.
I have already shown that God destroyed Edom and Babylon and that Jeremiah; Isaiah, and Ezekiel show that the people of these cities will get a resurrection. Therefore, referring to God’s judgment and destruction of people in the past as proof that such ones will not get a resurrection in the future has no basis in the Bible.
The account of Lot’s wife is a death blow to the view that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah will not get a resurrection
I will consider one argument from the quotation above. The judgments in the days of Noah and in the days of Lot according to Luke 17:26-30 are referred to, and the author of the article asks: “Was Jesus illustrating just an attitude, or does the context in which he used these examples suggest that eternal judgments were involved?” Jesus used these examples to “set a pattern for ungodly persons of things to come,” as 2 Peter 2:6 says. The pattern is that persons who continue to violate God’s laws will be punished. That the eternal destiny of individuals is not included in the pattern is seen by the fact that the other “ungodly persons” who violated God’s laws and were punished, like the people of Edom and Babylon and many other nations that God destroyed, are said to be in sheōl, and therefore will get a resurrection.
Let us look a little closer at Luke 17:26-30. According to 2 Peter 2:7, Lot was a righteous man. Were his wife and daughters also righteous? Genesis 19:15, 16 says:
15 As dawn was breaking, the angels became urgent with Lot, saying: “Get up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here with you, so that you will not be swept away in the error of the city!” 16 When he kept lingering, then because of Jehovah’s compassion for him, the men seized hold of his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, and they brought him out and stationed him outside the city.
In Genesis 18:23, Abraham asked God: “Will you really sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” God answered that if there were ten righteous persons in Sodom, he would not destroy the city. As I have shown, according to 2 Peter 2:7, Lot was a righteous man, and the words of the angels in the quotation above show that Lot’s wife and his two daughters were righteous persons as well. That was the reason why the angels led the family out of Sodom, so they should “not be swept away in the error of the city.” The angels said that Lot and his family had to flee the city without looking back. However, Genesis 19:26 shows that Lot’s wife probably stopped when she looked back, and she became a pillar of salt:
26But Lot’s wife, who was behind him, began to look back, and she became a pillar of salt.
Genesis 19:24 says that “Jehovah made it rain sulfur and fire on Sodʹom and Go·morʹrah.” In the area around the Dead Sea, there are layers of salt, sulfur, and bitumen, and when an explosion occurred, fire and sulfur together with salt fell down in the area. When Lot’s wife stopped and looked back, she may have become encapsulated with glowing sulfur and salt and literally became a pillar of salt. This means that Lot’s wife was among the people of Sodom who were killed by Jehovah, and she was among those who were “setting a pattern for ungodly people of things to come,” as 2 Peter 2:6 says.
But what would the destiny of Lot’s wife be? The fact that the angels led her out of Sodom shows that she was a righteous person like her husband Lot. She did not follow the angel’s advice and did something stupid. Therefore, she lost her life. But because Jehovah is righteous it is impossible that she, who was a righteous persons, is eternally annihilated without any hope of a resurrection because she looked back. So, she must be one of those who will be present on Judgment Day.
The destiny of Lot’s wife is important for our discussion because Jesus used her as an example in Luke 17:26-32:
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 Sod’om, 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.
Matthew 24:39, 40 says:
For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. 38 For as they were in those days before the Flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, 39 and they took no note until the Flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken along and the other abandoned. 41 Two women will be grinding at the hand mill; one will be taken along and the other abandoned.
When Jesus comes as the judge in the great tribulation, then a person who is on the housetop must not come down and pick up his belongings, and a person who is in the field must not return to the things behind. Two will be in the field, one will be taken along and the other abandoned. The words of Jesus are taken from situations in the first century CE, when people were on the flat roofs of their houses or in the field. The point of Jesus is that when he comes as the judge, people must not focus on worldly issues but must concentrate on spiritual matters.
But what will be the consequence if someone ignores the advice of Jesus? Jesus used the destruction of Sodom with fire and sulfur as an example and said: “It will be the same on that day when the Son of man is revealed.” And he used the wife of Lot as an example: “Remember the wife of Lot.” The words of 2 Peter 2:6 may throw light on the issue.
6 And by reducing the cities of Sodʹom and Go·morʹrah to ashes, he condemned them, setting a pattern for ungodly people of things to come.
Because the wife of Lot experienced the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, she is included in the “pattern for ungodly people of things to come.” This means that she is a pattern for those who will not be taken along but be abandoned. But she will get a resurrection! When one person, who is among those who are “a pattern for ungodly people of things to come,” will get a resurrection, it is impossible to claim that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a pattern for eternal annihilation for the other people in these cities. That Jesus used Lot’s wife who will get a resurrection, as an example is a death blow for the claim that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah are eternally annihilated.
THE RESURRECTION OF THE WICKED
Paul said in Acts 14:15 that there will be a resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous. But will the word “the unrighteous” also include those who are wicked?
The righteous people and the wicked people of Sodom cannot be eternally annihilated
Were there other righteous people in Sodom in addition to Lot, his wife, and two daughters? The answer is related to time. According to Genesis chapter 18, Abraham argued with Jehovah regarding Sodom and Gomorrah. According to verse 23, Abraham said: “Will you really sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” Abraham asked Jehovah through his angel if he would pardon the city if there were 50 righteous people there. And the answer was in the affirmative. Different numbers of righteous people were mentioned and in verse 32 we find the last requirement:
32 Finally he said: “Jehovah, please, do not become hot with anger, but let me speak just once more: Suppose only ten are found there.” He answered: “I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”
Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, and this shows that at the time of the conversation between the angel that represented Jehovah and Abraham, there were not ten righteous persons in the cities. However, Jesus said that if the powerful works that he performed in Capernaum had occurred in Sodom, the city had not been destroyed but had remained to the time of Jesus. The requirement for pardoning the city was that ten righteous persons were found. And the words of Jesus show that in contrast with Capernaum where the people did not repent, at least ten persons in Sodom would have repented and would have been counted as righteous if they had seen the miracles of Jesus. These prospective righteous persons were killed when the city was destroyed.
In Genesis 18:25, Abraham said:
25 It is unthinkable that you would act in this manner by putting the righteous man to death with the wicked one so that the outcome for the righteous man and the wicked is the same! It is unthinkable of you. Will the Judge of all the earth not do what is right?”
Abraham thought about the situation that he saw with his own eyes, whether Sodom and Gomorrah should be destroyed. But he also said that God will not let “the outcome” of the righteous and the wicked be “the same.” All the inhabitants of Sodom were killed, including Lot’s wife. But the important point here is that Jesus said that more than ten inhabitants of Sodom would have repented if they had the chance. It is obvious that these people will get a resurrection on Judgment Day, even though they were “undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.” What can we say about the other people who also experienced “the judicial punishment of everlasting fire?
Jesus said that the inhabitants of Capernaum would come to hadēs, which means that they will get a resurrection. And he said that it would be easier for the people of Sodom to repent on Judgment Day than for the people of Capernaum. Therefore, when it is explicitly said that the people of Capernaum will get a resurrection — they would come to hades — it is obvious that the people of Sodom will get a resurrection as well because their destiny will be the same as the destiny of the people of Capernaum, according to the word of Jesus.
The members of the Governing Body do their utmost to explain away the clear words of Jesus. The study note of Matthew 11:23 says that “Here [hadēs is] used figuratively to represent the debasement that Capernaum would experience.” The word hadēs is found seven times in the Christian Greek, in addition to the two occurrences where Capernaum is mentioned. In all these seven instances, hadēsrefers to the place where the dead who will have a resurrection comes. And there is nothing in the context where Capernaum is mentioned that suggest a figurative and not a literal meaning.
A comparison between Sodom and Tyre and Sidon.
Jesus used the same words with reference to different cities, and a comparison may help us understand the meaning of the words. Regarding the words, “it will be more endurable,” the study note of Luke 10:12 in the online NWT13 says:
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 that 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 proverbial and was often mentioned in connection with God’s anger and judgment.—De 29:23; Isa 1:9: La 4:6. (the author’s bold font)
I have already shown that the claim that Jesus used hyperboles when he spoke about the Jewish cities and Sodom, does not have any scriptural backing. I will now consider the clause: “he [Jesus] was not saying that the inhabitants of Sodom must be present on that day.” This is a strange claim indeed because the words of Jesus clearly show that Sodom should be present on Judgment Day. This is supported by a comparison between Matthew 11:20-22 (above) and 11:23-24 (below).
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 (hadēs) 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.”
According to the study note, Jesus did not say that the inhabitants of Tyre, Sidon, Chorazin, and Bethsaida would get a resurrection and will be present on Judgment Day. However, we know that this claim is wrong as far as the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon are concerned. Ezekiel 32: 21, 30 says with reference to the inhabitants of Sidon that they are in sheōl and therefore will get a resurrection:
21 “‘From the depths of the Grave (sheōl) 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.
The word “grave” in verse 21 is translated from sheōl, and verse 30 shows that the inhabitants of Sidon were in sheōl. Revelation 20:13 shows that the persons who are in hades (corresponding to sheōl) will get a resurrection. This means that in spite of the words, “its smoke will keep ascending forever,” the people of Edom will get a resurrection.
When we know that the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon will be present on Judgment Day, it would be ridiculous to claim that the inhabitants of Chorazin and Bethsaida, who are mentioned together with Tyre and Sidon will not be present on Judgment Day. If that were not true, the comparison of Jesus, “it would be more endurable,” would have been meaningless.
Jesus used the same words, “it would be more endurable,” in verses 23 and 24. And the comparison is between Capernaum and Sodom. Because we have data showing that one of the parts in verses 20 and 22, namely, the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon, will get a resurrection, we have good reasons to believe that the other part, the inhabitants of Capernaum and Sodom, that are the objects of the next comparison, also will get a resurrection. In connection with them, there even is direct proof, namely, that the inhabitants of Capernaum will come to hadēs, according to 11:23. But the members of the Governing Body try to explain away this proof by the study note with the words “Here [hadēs is]used figuratively to represent the debasement that Capernaum would experience.” This claim has no basis in the context.
Wicked people from the time before Jesus came to the earth that will get a resurrection
But is it right that wicked persons will get a resurrection? According to Matthew 12: 38-42, Jesus said:
38 Then as an answer to him, some of the scribes and the Pharisees said: “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 In reply he said to them: “A wicked and adulterous generation keeps on seeking a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Joʹnah the prophet. 40 For just as Joʹnah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.41 Men of Ninʹe·veh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it, because they repented at what Joʹnah preached. But look! something more than Joʹnah 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 Solʹo·mon. But look! Something more than Solʹo·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 and adulterous generation. Matthew uses the words “Judgment Day” while Luke uses the word “judgment” with the same meaning. Jesus says that this “wicked and adulterous generation” will be raised up with the queen of the south. This means that according to Jesus wicked and adulterous people will get a resurrection on Judgment Day. We note that there is a parallel between the words of Jesus regarding Nineveh and the queen of the south, and his words regarding Corazin, and Bethsaida, and Tyre, and Sidon, as well as between Capernaum and Sodom.
Jesus says that it will be more endurable for Tyre and Siʹdon on Judgment Day than for Corazin and Bethsaida, it will be more endurable for Sodom on Judgment Day than for Capernaum. And he says that the “men of Nineveh…will condemn it [this wicked and adulterous generation], and that “the queen of the south…will condemn it.” The mentioned condemnation implies that it will be more endurable for the men of Nineveh and for the queen of the south than for the wicked and adulterous generation after the resurrection on Judgment Day. And this is the same that Jesus said regarding the Jewish cities. It will be more enduring for Tyre, and Sidon, and Sodom than for Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida on Judgment Day.
And here is the important point: Jesus said explicitly that the inhabitants of Nineveh, the queen of the south, and this wicked and adulterous generation will get a resurrection on Judgment Day. The words, “this wicked and adulterous generation” must include the inhabitants of Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida. Thus, Jesus directly says that they will get a resurrection. We must therefore conclude that the claim of the members of the Governing Body that Jesus used hyperboles, and that the inhabitants of the Jewish cities and Sodom will not get a resurrection clearly is a false claim.
The words of Jesus show that wicked people in the first century CE will get a resurrection. The same is shown in the Hebrew Scriptures, and I use the example of the inhabitants of ancient Babylon. I start by quoting Jeremiah 51:1, 39.
1 “This is what Jehovah says: “Here I am raising up a destructive wind Against Babylonand the inhabitants of Leb-kaʹmai…39 When they are inflamed. I will set out their banquet and make them drunk, In order that they may exult; then they will sleep a lasting (NIV: ‘ōlam, “everlasting”) sleep, From which they will not wake up,” declares Jehovah.
Jeremiah says that the people of Babylon will sleep an everlasting sleep and not wake up. But Isaiah shows that the people of Babylon are in sheōl and therefore will get a resurrection. So even words referring to the people of a city, seemingly showing that it will be everlastingly destroyed, do not have this meaning. This is a good background for the understanding of Jude 7—the use of these words to show that the people of Sodom will not have a resurrection is completely untenable!
In order to show that the people of Babylon were said to be wicked, but that they came to sheōl and will get a resurrection, I quote Isaiah 13:1; 11, 19 (above) and 14:3-15 below.
1 A pronouncement against Babylon that Isaiah the son of Aʹmoz saw in vision:
11 I will call the inhabited earth to account for its badness (rā‘a), And the wicked (rāsha) for their error (‘awōn). I will put an end to the pride of the presumptuous, And I will humble the haughtiness of tyrants…19 And Babylon, the most glorious of kingdoms, The beauty and the pride of the Chal·deʹans, Will be like Sodʹom and Go·morʹrah when God overthrew them.
3 In the day when Jehovah gives you rest from your pain and from your turmoil and from the hard slavery imposed on you, 4 you will recite this proverb against the king of Babylon: “How the one forcing others to work has met his end! How the oppression has ended! 5 Jehovah has broken the rod of the wicked, The staff of the rulers, 6 The one furiously striking peoples with unceasing blows, The one angrily subduing nations with relentless persecution. 7 The whole earth now rests, free of disturbance. People cry out for joy. 8 Even the juniper trees rejoice over you, Along with the cedars of Lebʹa·non. They say, ‘Ever since you have fallen, No woodcutter comes up against us.’ 9 Even the Grave (sheōl) underneath is stirred up To meet you when you come. Because of you, it awakens those powerless in death, All the oppressive leaders of the earth. It makes all the kings of the nations rise from their thrones.10 All of them speak up and say to you, ‘Have you also become weak like us? Have you become like us?11 Down to the Grave (sheōl) your pride has been brought, The sound of your stringed instruments. Maggots are spread beneath you as a bed, And worms are your covering.’12 How you have fallen from heaven, O shining one, son of the dawn! How you have been cut down to the earth, You who vanquished nations! 13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to the heavens. Above the stars of God I will lift up my throne, And I will sit down on the mountain of meeting, In the remotest parts of the north. 14 I will go up above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself resemble the Most High.’15 Instead, you will be brought down to the Grave (sheōl), To the remotest parts of the pit.
Verse 13: 11 uses three different words to show that the inhabitants of Babylon were wicked. The adjective rāsha is the normal word with the meaning “wicked.” The noun rā‘a means “evilness,” and the noun ‘awōn means “sin, iniquity.” God would punish the inhabitants of Babylon for their wickedness in the same way that he punished Sodom and Gomorrah. Three times the prophet says that the inhabitants of Babylon will come to sheōl, indicating a resurrection. We also note that the kings of the nations are in sheōl according to verses 9 and 10. There is no doubt that wicked people who lived before the time when Jesus was on earth will get a resurrection, just as the wicked and adulterous generation in the days of Jesus will get a resurrection.
|When we know that the people of Babylon will get a resurrection and the prophet says that their destiny will be like the destiny of Sodom and Gomorrah, this suggests that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah will get a resurrection as well.|
We note that “all the kings of the nations” are in sheōl, and Ezekiel 32:21-32 shows that the rulers from ancient times together with the inhabitants of their land are in sheōl as well:
21 “‘From the depths of the Grave 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.
22 As·syrʹi·a is there with all her assembly. Their graves are all around him, all of them fallen by the sword.23 Her graves are in the depths of the pit, and her assembly is all around her grave, all of them struck down by the sword, because they caused terror in the land of the living.
24 “‘Eʹlam is there with all her hordes around her grave, all of them fallen by the sword. They have gone down uncircumcised to the land below, those who caused terror in the land of the living. Now they will bear their shame with those going down into the pit. 25 They have made a bed for her among the slain, along with all her hordes around her graves. All of them are uncircumcised, slain by the sword, because they caused terror in the land of the living; and they will bear their shame with those going down into the pit. He has been put among the slain.
26 “‘There is where Meʹshech and Tuʹbalp and all their hordes are. Their graves are all around him. All of them are uncircumcised, pierced through by the sword, because they caused terror in the land of the living. 27 Will they not lie with mighty uncircumcised warriors who have fallen, who went down to the Grave with their weapons of war? And they will put their swords under their heads and their sins on their bones, because these mighty warriors terrorized the land of the living. 28 But as for you, you will be crushed among the uncircumcised ones, and you will lie with those who were slain by the sword.
29 “‘Eʹdom is there, her kings and all her chieftains, who despite their mightiness, were laid among those slain by the sword; they too will lie with the uncircumcised onesr and with those going down into the pit.
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. 31 “‘Pharʹaoh will see all of these, and he will be comforted over all that happened to his hordes; Pharʹaoh and all his army will be slain by the sword,’ declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.32 “‘Because he caused terror in the land of the living, Pharʹaoh and all his hordes will be laid to rest with the uncircumcised, with those slain by the sword,’ declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.”
There is absolutely no doubt that wicked people who lived and died before Jesus came to the earth will get a resurrection, just as the wicked people who lived in the days of Jesus.
THE CHANGE OF VIEW OF THE MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNING BODY REGARDING WHO WILL GET A RESURRECTION
I will start with C.T. Russell and the Bible Students in the 19th century. They had a correct understanding of the meaning and scope of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ and of the resurrection from the dead. The Watchtower, No. 12, Volume XI 1880, page 4 (Reprints page 1261)
God’s gracious provision in Christ is, however, abundant. His arrangement is that the whole race, having been purchased by our Lord Jesus, shall be fully in his hands: The Father judgeth no man, but has committed all judgment unto his Son (John 5:22); and he hath appointed the Millennial day for that work of trial and judgment. (Acts 17:31.) He who redeemed or purchased back Adam and his race from the sentence of death will offer to each one full restitution of all that Adam possessed and lost, upon conditions which even in their fallen condition they will be fully able to accept. Obedience of will or intent shall be the first requirement; and as this is obeyed—restitution will commence. As gradually, during the Millennium, imperfection and weakness shall give place to strength and perfection, correspondingly less allowance will be made for transgressions by the Mediator-Judge; his chasticements and corrections proportioned to the ability and willfullness of the trangressors being meanwhile most valuable experience to those upon trial.
We should note that Russell and the Bible Students did not advocate the view that all the descendants of Adams will have a resurrection. The Watchtower No. 3, Volume III, September 1881, pages 53 and 54 (Reprints page 261) has the article, “The unpardonable sin.” The words of Hebrews 10:26 are quoted: “If we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more (a) sacrifice for sins.” The article says that persons who are in this situation “have no hope; they could not be recovered from the second death…” This means that Russell and the Bible Students had the same view of the resurrection and the purpose of the thousand-year-long Judgment Day as I have advocated in several articles: All the descendants of Adam except those who have sinned against the holy spirit and rejected the ransom sacrifice will have a resurrection on Judgment Day to get the chance of accepting or rejecting the ransom sacrifice. The only difference of view is that the Bible Students believed that Adam also would have a resurrection, while I reject his resurrection.
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 view that most people who had lived would get a resurrection continued to be held for 23 years. The Watchtower of January 15, 1987, page 24, says:
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.
One and a half year after the publication of the article quoted above, a big change in viewpoint was published. In The Watchtower of 1 June 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.
Insight on the Scriptures was first published in 1988, and the two volumes accord with the view expressed in The Watchtower of 1987 that the inhabitants of Chorazin, Capernaum, Betsaida, Sodom, and Gomorrah will get a resurrection on Judgment Day. This lexicon was revised in 2015, and the view presented is that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah will not get a resurrection. But some persons from Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida may be resurrected. The quotations below are for the 1915 edition. The texts on page 137 in the two versions are similar, except for the text marked in blue from the 1988 edition. The text on page 775 is different from the blue text from the 1988 edition:
(137)Resurrection is involved. When using the expression “Judgment Day,” Jesus brought into the picture a resurrection of the dead. He mentioned that a city might reject the apostles and their message, and said: “It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for that city.” (Mt 10:15) Although he was evidently using a hyperbole (because Sodom and Gomorrah had undergone everlasting destruction), his statement did point to a future judgment for at least some from such a first-century Jewish city. [1988-edition: This projected the matter into the future and naturally suggested that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah would then be alive by means of resurrection.] (Compare Mt 11:22-24; Lu 10:13-15; Jude 7.) Even clearer is Jesus’ statement that “the queen of the south will be raised up in the judgment.” (Mt 12:41, 42; Lu 11:31, 32) The Biblical statements about Jesus’ judging “the living and the dead” can be viewed in the light of the fact that resurrection is involved in Judgment Day.—Ac 10:42; 2Ti 4:1.
(775) Resurrection Affords Opportunity. By contrast, when addressing certain first-century Jewish cities, Jesus referred to a future judgment day in which they would be involved. (Mt 10:14, 15; 11:20-24) That implies that at least some people from those cities would be resurrected, and even though their formerly unrepentant attitude would make it very hard for them to repent, they would have opportunity to manifest humble repentance and “turn around” in conversion to God through Christ. Those failing to do so will receive everlasting destruction. [1988-edition: By contrast, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah as well as those of Canaanite Tyre and Sidon are spoken of by Jesus as finding “Judgment Day” more endurable than would the people of certain Jewish cities (Mt 10:14, 15; 11:20-24) Those of pagan Nineveh are similarly spoken of. (Mt 12:41) This of itself implies that people from all such places, including the Jewish cities mentioned, will be resurrected and have opportunity to manifest humble repentance and “turn around” in conversion to God through Christ.]
This new view is, in reality, a contradiction of terms. The view that Jesus used hyperboles and did not speak about the resurrection is still standing, as we see in the study note of Luke 10:12 in the online NWT13. On this basis, it is contradictory to say that “some from such a first-century Jewish city” may have a resurrection. The Governing Body cannot have it both ways. If Jesus used hyperboles, he did not speak about the resurrection. In that case, it is contradictory to say that he spoke about the resurrection of some of the inhabitants of the Jewish cities. I suspect that this partial retraction is an attempt to cover up the absurd doctrine from 1988 that Jesus meant the very opposite of what he said.
However, the words of Jesus are still not accepted because he said that the people of Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida, as well as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, would get a resurrection and not only “some from such a first-century city.”
Figure 1.1 The changing view of the resurrection
|1880||The words of Jesus are accepted: The people of Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida, Sodom, and Gomorrah will get a resurrection.|
|1965||The words of Jesus are accepted: The people of Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida, Sodom, and Gomorrah will get a resurrection.|
|1987||The words of Jesus are accepted: The people of Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida, Sodom, and Gomorrah will get a resurrection.|
|1988||The words of Jesus are rejected: The people of Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida, Sodom, and Gomorrah will not get a resurrection.|
|2013||The words of Jesus are rejected: The people of Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida, Sodom, and Gomorrah will not get a resurrection.|
|2015||The words of Jesus are rejected: Some of the people of Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida may get a resurrection The people of Sodom, and Gomorrah will not get a resurrection.|
The members of the Governing Body behave like Hymenaeus and Philetus. They have rejected the words of Jesus, and their teaching about the resurrection is a false teaching.
. The last time Matthew 12:41, 42 and the resurrection of the men of Nineveh, the queen of the south, and of this wicked generation was discussed in the Watchtower literature was in Awake! October 22, 1975, page 13. It is mentioned in passim in Insight (2015) Volume II, page 913: “Christ stated that this woman would rise up in the judgment and condemn the men of the first-century generation. (Mt 12:42; Lu 11:31) She had made an arduous trip to hear Solomon’s wisdom, but the unbelieving Jews, who claimed to be servants of Jehovah, had present in Jesus something more than Solomon and did not pay attention to him.” Whether the words of Jesus refer to resurrection is not stated.
. Five articles dealing with the resurrection appeared in The Watchtower of 1965: “Death and Hades to Give Up the Dead”; “The Dead Who Are in Line for Resurrection”; “For Whom There Are Resurrection Hopes”; “Who Will be Resurrected from the Dead?”; “Who Will be Resurrected—Why?” in The Watchtower of 15 January, 1 February, 15 February, 1 March, and 15 March 1965. These articles contain deep analytical Bible study at its very best
THE MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNING BODY HAVE REJECTED PARTS OF THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES
Most of the teaching of the Governing Body today is superficial. There are almost no articles that make an in-depth analysis of the text of parts of the Bible in the Watchtower literature. But in almost all the publications, the details are not stressed but only the broad picture. As a result, the Bible knowledge among the publishers, the pioneers, and the elders is extremely low.
In order to shine a light on this false teaching of the Governing Body regarding the Bible, I will use the illustration of junk DNA. The DNA molecule is a very long double helix, and only a part of this great molecule codes for amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins. The theory is that most of the very long DNA molecule has no function at all. But it is there in order to keep the molecule together so the areas that code for amino acids can function properly. The part of the molecule that is believed to have no function is called “junk DNA.”
In a similar way, the members of the Governing Body believe, and express it in articles, that a large portion of the accounts in the Hebrew Scriptures have no intrinsic prophetic meaning, or any meaning at all, for us today. From these texts we can only gather a few moral principles or general lessons to use the DNA analogy. And in keeping with that analogy, we can call these scriptural accounts “junk texts.” But this is a false teaching; in reality, it says that not all parts of the Bible text are included with God’s particular purpose. We should note that this is a view that is diametrically opposite of what C.T. Russel, J.F. Rutherford, and N.H. Knorr believed and taught.
While the basic teachings that are built on the Bible are the same as they were in the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 20th century, the teaching landscape of the organization in the 21st century is very different from that of the 20th century. From the middle of the 20th century, accurate personal knowledge was stressed, and the articles in The Watchtower contained deep analyses of Bible texts. Today, The Watchtower and other literature are superficial, and analyses of the text of the Bible rarely occur.
But if the teaching situation is so different, why have not more Witnesses noted this and raised objections, particularly those who have been Witnesses for many years? One basic reason can be illustrated in the following way: At a district assembly many years ago, the following situation was presented: A couple with two teenage children, a boy, and a girl had just seen a film on TV. The mother said: “It is as if I have seen the introduction to this film before.” The father answered: “You are right. A short time after we were married, we went to a movie theater to see this film. After a few minutes, we looked at each other and said, ‘Shall we leave? This is a bad film.’ And then we left. Today we have seen the whole film—together with our children.”
The changes in the teaching landscape of Jehovah’s Witnesses have occurred gradually, and the extreme loyalty to the Governing Body leads many Witnesses to believe that anything that comes from the Governing Body, any change and any new view, comes from Jehovah. And even those who are concerned about the changes hardly would raise any objections against the teaching of the Governing Body. Below I will make a study of The Song of Solomon in order to illustrate my use of the analogous expression “junk text.” But first I will discuss a special “revolution.”
EXCURSUS: THE REVOLUTION THAT FEW HAVE NOTICED
Since the end of the 19th century, the understanding of the text of the Bible has progressed. “The light has increased,” is the slogan of Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, this relates to details and not to big changes in the understanding of the text of the Bible. Almost all the basic doctrines held by the Bible Students in the 19th century are held by Jehovah’s Witnesses today—with some adjustments. But there is one big exception.
THE NEW VIEW OF THE BIBLE HELD BY THE PRESENT GOVERNING BODY IS A REVOLUTION!
I use the word “revolution” because this new view is diametrically opposite to what C.T. Russell, J.F. Rutherford, and N.H. Knorr believed and taught. It is a rejection of one of the basic pillars of the Bible as viewed by the Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses — a pillar that has stood firm for 120 years. One-quarter of the previous beliefs of the Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses have, in effect, been flushed down the toilet. The new view means that hundreds of articles in The Watchtower that were published during the 19th and 20th centuries and a great number of books and booklets are just bogus. They basically contain fiction. And worst of all, by this, the belief in the full inspiration of the Bible as God’s Holy Word has been rejected!
The new view classifies the following 38 books in whole or in part as pure fiction:
What is quite ironic is that none of the nine men on the Governing Body knows the Bible languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Yet, these men claim to be appointed by God to be the only ones that can correctly explain the meaning of the original text of the Bible.
THE SONG OF SOLOMON ILLUSTRATES THE WEAKNESS OF THE GOVERNING BODY’S NEW VIEW OF THE BIBLE
The book has 8 chapters and 117 verses, and the whole account is a drama. First I will identify the persons:
|Her shepherd lover||1:7|
|Her mother||1:6; 8:2|
|Daughters of Jerusalem||3:5|
|Daughters of Zion||3:11|
I will now look at the details of the drama: King Solomon, the Shulammite maiden, and the shepherd who loved her are the principal persons of the drama. The Shulammite met the shepherd at his place of birth, and they fell in love with each other. The Shulammite wanted to accept her lover’s invitation to view the beauties of the spring. Her brothers became angry with her, and instead, appointed her to guard the vineyards.
Solomon camped close to the vineyards. He saw the Shulammite and had her brought to his camp where he expressed his admiration for her. She felt no attraction to Solomon, but instead longed for her shepherd lover. The daughters of Jerusalem suggested that she leave the camp to look for her lover. But Solomon did not want her to leave and tried to entice her to stay with offerings of gold and silver. But the Shulammite maiden told him that she loved someone else.
The shepherd then came to Solomon’s camp and voiced his affection for her. Solomon took the Shulammite to Jerusalem, but the shepherd followed. Solomon again showered her with flattering compliments, but the Shulammite insisted on returning to the shepherd. It seems that Solomon allowed Shulammite to return to her home.
Paul wrote in Romans 15:4 (NWT84):
For all the things that were written beforehand were written for our instruction, so that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.
The Song of Solomon is one book that was written for our instruction, and it is very important that this instruction should give us hope, as the Scriptures say. So, what instruction and hope do we get from this book? The view of the Bible students in the 19th century and Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 20th century was that accounts in the Hebrew Scriptures were prophetic types of bigger things of importance for Christians in our time. This long-held understanding is rejected by the present Governing Body, and The Watchtower of March 15. 2015,
pages 9, 10, reads:
If you have been serving Jehovah for decades, you may have noticed a gradual shift in the way our literature explains many of the narratives recorded in the Bible. How so? In times past, it was more common for our literature to take what might be called a type-antitype approach to Scriptural accounts… As we might expect, over the years Jehovah has helped “the faithful and discreet slave” to become steadily more discreet. Discretion has led to greater caution when it comes to calling a Bible account a prophetic drama unless there is a clear Scriptural basis for doing so… Thus, we find that our literature today focuses more on the simple, practical lessons about faith, endurance, godly devotion, and other vital qualities that we learn about from Bible accounts.
An angel told the apostle John in Revelation 19:10 (NWT84):
For the bearing witness to Jesus is what inspires prophesying.
The Bible encyclopedia of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2, pages 691-692, has this to say regarding this Bible verse:
Since the fulfillment of God’s great purpose is all bound up in Jesus (compare Col 1:19, 20), then all prophecy, that is, all inspired messages from God proclaimed by his servants, pointed toward his Son . . . Peter could rightly say of Jesus that ‘all the prophets bear witness to him.’—Ac 3:20-24; 10:43; compare 28:23
The members of the Governing Body still hold to the above understanding, and if asked, they would, to a man, tell you that they absolutely believe this to be true. Contrary to their claims, however, their new treatment of the Hebrew Scripture accounts, especially the Song of Solomon, amounts to a blatant and utter rejection of the above-quoted scripture and reference. After all, if ‘all inspired messages from God point toward Jesus,’ and if ‘all the prophets bear witness to him,’ the inescapable conclusion is that the Song of Solomon must also be about Jesus. And since it is about Jesus, the accompanying characters, all of whom interact with each other, must be part of a prophetic drama that, in some way, relates to Jesus Christ and the fulfillment of God’s purposes in connection with him. Thus, there appears to be a “clear Scriptural basis” to look for a hidden prophetic meaning, not only in the Song of Solomon but also in the rest of the inspired accounts in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Nevertheless, the Watchtower literature after 2015 is a testament to the Governing Body’s view that there is almost no “clear Scriptural basis” for viewing any account in the Hebrew Scriptures as a prophetic drama. But this would mean that large portions of the Hebrew Scriptures have no meaning for us today; they are just filling material or “junk texts.”
My book, My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, pages 343-346, discusses in detail ten different criteria for what constitutes “a clear scriptural basis” for viewing an account as a prophetic drama. Most of these are ignored by the present Governing Body. The criteria are:
- Explicit declarations of prophetic types.
- References to groups of prophetic types.
- Clues in other books of the Bible.
- Accounts with special or peculiar content.
- General expressions identify prophetic types.
- The words about the restoration of all things.
- Accounts connected with prophetic words in the prophets.
- Texts that are written down after their initial fulfillment must represent. prophetic types.
- Persons and events that are said to be signs or portents.
- Prophetic actions that are said to refer to the last days.
The Song of Solomon is included in point 4. This is a drama with different persons speaking and acting, and claiming that God inspired this drama, means that it must have a prophetic meaning for us today. In addition to the words of John and Peter that all prophetic scriptures pointed forward to Jesus, the Bible students and Jehovah’s Witnesses, who for 120 years believed that the Song of Solomon was a prophetic drama, used three scriptures as support, namely, John 3:29; 10:11; and 2 Corinthians 11:2. I quote from NWT13:
Whoever has the bride is the bridegroom. But the friend of the bridegroom, when he stands and hears him, has a great deal of joy on account of the voice of the bridegroom. So my joy has been made complete.
I am the fine shepherd; the fine shepherd surrenders his life in behalf of the sheep.
For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy, for I personally promised you in marriage to one husband that I might present you as a chaste virgin to the Christ.
These scriptures do not prove that the Song of Solomon is a prophetic drama about Jesus Christ and his anointed followers. But the scriptures show that the anointed followers of Jesus are a chaste virgin like the Shulammite maiden and that Jesus is both bridegroom and shepherd, as was the shepherd-lover of the Shulamite.
Believing that most of the Song of Solomon is included in the Bible just to teach us a few moral points or lessons is the same as rejecting the full inspiration of the Bible. In that case, most of the book would be nothing more than “junk text.” Let us now look at some details and see what they teach us.
In The Watchtower of January 15, 2015, pages 28-32, we find the article, “Is unfailing love possible?” This article describes the book as a poem of love, and on page 28, we read:
The Song of Solomon, shows that enduring love can exist between a man and a woman. It also vividly portrays what that love is like and how it is displayed. Both married and single worshippers of Jehovah can learn much about such love by carefully considering this Bible book.
Two particular lessons are mentioned on page 32:
When the shepherd asked the Shulammite girl to go for a walk with him on a spring day, her brothers did not permit her to go. Instead, they assigned her the work of guarding the vineyards. Why? Did they not trust her? Did they perhaps think that she had immoral intentions? Actually, they were taking precautions so that their sister would not come into a tempting situation. (Song of Sol. 1:6; 2:10-15) Here, then, is a lesson for single Christians: During courtship, take necessary precautions to keep the relationship chaste…
Christian couples generally enter the marital relationship with much love and affection for each other. Since the marriage arrangement instituted by Jehovah is a lasting one, it is vital that couples endeavor to keep the flame of their love ablaze and maintain an atmosphere in which love can grow.
The whole article in The Watchtower of 2015 misses the mark. It is correct that the Song of Solomon “shows that enduring love can exist between man and woman.” But during the time when two are dating, as in the case of Sulammite and the shepherd, it is erotic love (eros), or romantic love, which is the natural affection between man and woman; I do not include sex in the concept “erotic love.” In contrast with erotic or romantic love, there is a kind of love that is based on principle (agapē), and this is the kind of love that Jesus stressed for his followers who became his bride. This is what rightly can be called “unfailing love” that becomes stronger between a married couple as they live together and get to know each other. But the Shulammite and the shepherd were not yet married, and so the love that the book describes is only erotic or romantic love. But the article applies the concept of erotic or romantic love in a much broader and undefined way, and that is the reason why I say that the article misses the mark.
|The Song of Solomon only describes erotic or romantic love (eros), but the Governing Body erroneously applies this to love in a much broader sense (agapē), and this misleads the readers.|
As the origin of the line of communication, God inspired his secretaries by implanting in them the divine message emanating from him, thus, giving them a mental picture of what they should write. And the secretaries themselves chose the words to write the account. I share the view that it was Solomon who wrote Song of Solomon. A natural question would be: Why would God implant in Solomon a mental drama involving several persons simply to show what erotic love is? Is the subject of erotic or romantic love so important that eight chapters and 117 verses of God’s Holy Book had to be allocated to describe it? On the other hand, if the book is a prophetic drama, then the erotic or romantic love it describes would have to be a type, and its having an antitypical application helps us understand the reason for the numerous beautiful descriptions of this erotic love.
If we look at the two Governing Body lessons quoted above, they do not fit well. It is true that the brothers were angry with their Shulammite sister and arranged for her to guard the vineyards instead of meeting the shepherd. But the text does not show that this was for moral reasons, namely, to remove their sister from a sexually compromising situation. This may or may not have been their reason. So, there is no courtship advice in the book, as the Governing Body claims. And neither is there any direct advice for married couples. It is true that married couples should “maintain an atmosphere where love can grow.” But this is the kind of love based on principles (agapē), love between friends (philia), and family love (storgē). To be sure, these kinds of love are important, but they are not discussed in the Song of Solomon; only romantic love. Therefore, any intended advice for married couples cannot be gathered from the book.
Ostensibly, the bottom line of the book appears to be that erotic or romantic love of a young woman toward a young man can be so strong that she refuses to leave him for the sake of riches and fame. As it relates to Christian doctrines and Christian morals, this is a rather petty issue.
In addition to the lessons from The Watchtower of January 15, 2015, that are strange and incongruous statements regarding the text of the Song of Solomon, I submit a case in point taken from Insight on the Scriptures, Volume II, page 996: It says regarding the value of the Song of Solomon:
The Song of Solomon illustrates the beauty of enduring and constant love. Such unswerving love is reflected in the relationship of Christ Jesus and his bride. (Eph 5:25-32) Thus The Song of Solomon can serve to encourage those professing to be of Christ’s bride to remain faithful to their heavenly bridegroom.—Compare 2Co 11:2.
This comment is misleading. I have already shown that the Song of Solomon only expresses erotic or romantic love (eros). Therefore, the expression “enduring and constant love” would apply to other kinds of love, such as the one the apostle John so often mentions. However, attempting to superimpose these other kinds of love onto the erotic or romantic love discussed in the Song of Solomon is wrong. The last part of the Insight quote above is even more problematic. Why did the Governing Body single out one small group as those whom the book can encourage, namely Christ’s bride? This is the same as pulling the wool over the eyes of the readers. The only way that this expression can have meaning is if the Shulammite maiden is a prophetic type of the 144,000 who constitute the bride of Christ.
But this view has been rejected, and even the newer songbooks are a reflection of this rejection. The songbook, Sing Praises to Jehovah (1984), includes song no. 11 “The Shulammite Remnant (Song of Solomon 6:13).” This shows that the Song of Solomon was viewed as a prophetic drama with types and antitypes. A Norwegian edition of this songbook was printed in 2007, and it also includes this song. However, the songbook, Sing to Jehovah (2009), does not include this song. The melody is included but the words have been changed. It is clear that the words in Insight about Christ’s bride give the reader the impression that the Song of Solomon includes a prophecy about Christ’s bride. Therefore, the reader is misled. I will now consider the view that the Bible students and Jehovah’s Witnesses held for 120 years, namely, that the Hebrew Scriptures contain a great number of types that have received an antitypical fulfillment in our days.
In 1957, volume 3 of the NWT of the Hebrew Scriptures was published. and the Song of Solomon was included in this volume. In connection with the translation of volume 3, the article “The Loved Woman of the Superlative Song,” dealing with the Song of Solomon, was written in The Watchtower of December 1, 1957, pages 720- 734. This article treats the book as a prophetic drama, and it says:
9 Writing to the Christian congregation in the first century, the apostle Paul tells of a number of occasions where the Israelites fell away from the love of Jehovah God, and then comments: “Now these things went on befalling them as examples and they were written for a warning.” A warning to whom? “To us upon whom the accomplished ends of the systems of things have arrived.” (1 Cor. 10:11) It must be, then, that The Song of Solomon finds its fulfillment in connection with the Christian congregation of which the apostle Paul was a member in that century when the Jewish system of things no longer found favor in God’s eyes and it ended, Jehovah God now transferring his loving-kindness to the Christian congregation that he espoused to his Bridegroom-Son, Jesus Christ.
Based on the article in The Watchtower of 1957 I make a short outline of the types and antitypes:
- The Shulammite pictures the 144 000 members of the bride of Christ.
- The Shepherd pictures the heavenly bridegroom, Jesus Christ.
- The brothers who were very anxious to safeguard their sister pictures Paul and others who were anxious to safeguard the Christian congregation.
- Solomon pictures the rulers and the riches of this world.
- Since 1914, the remnant of the bride class has been in this world, but they have not sought the favor of the rulers of this world or its riches, They seek the love of the shepherd, who is invisible to them.
- The Shulammite was taken to Jerusalem, and the test of this world’s materialism was put before her. In a similar way, the bride of Christ has been tested.
- Her shepherd followed her to Jerusalem and strengthened her, just as Jesus does with his bride.
- By witnessing about the kingdom, the bride class invites the shepherd to eat the kingdom fruits, and the bridegroom comes to eat.
- The bad dream of the Shulammite pictures that the remnant did not respond quickly after 1914 to the bridegroom’s invitation to have fellowship with him in gathering in the sheep because of hardships during World War I.
- The test with Solomon did not shake her devotion to the shepherd. Solomon let her go back to her home and to the shepherd. Nothing in this world can shake the loyalty of the anointed Christians to their bridegroom.
In connection with each of the points above, the article in The Watchtower has detailed quotations from the Song of Solomon elucidating each of the points. I now return to the question of why God would inspire a whole book filled with expressions of erotic or romantic love. In relation to the teaching of God and his principles, there would be no purpose for such a book. However, in a prophetic setting, expressions of erotic or romantic love between a typical bride toward her typical bridegroom have an antitypical fulfillment of something different from romantic love. Such beautiful poetic expressions of erotic love may impress strong mental pictures in the minds of the readers, indicating the very strong and personal relationship between the antitypical shepherd and king, Jesus Christ, and his antitypical bride of his anointed followers. This is seen in The Song of Solomon 8:6, 7 (NWT13):
6Place me as a seal upon your heart, As a seal upon your arm, For love is as strong as death is, And exclusive devotion is as unyielding as the Grave. Its flames are a blazing fire, the flame of Jah. 7 Surging waters cannot extinguish love, Nor can rivers wash it away. If a man would offer all the wealth of his house for love, It would be utterly despised.”
In my view, the understanding of the Song of Solomon has some similarities with the drama of Sarah and Hagar (Galatians 4:22-20) and the conclusion of Paul in verse 28, “Now, you brothers, are children of the promise the same as Isaac was.” The drama with Sarah and Hagar focuses on the sonship of the anointed Christians, who were persecuted by the Jews. And the drama with the Shulammite focuses on the anointed remnant in the time of the end and their unfailing loyalty and love to their shepherd and king in spite of all the temptations of this world.
The conclusion of this study, so far, is that the members of the Governing Body do not believe in the full inspiration of the Bible. They have rejected what Jesus said about the resurrection on Judgment Day. And they claim that many parts of the Hebrew Scriptures have no meaning for us; we can only gather moral principles from them. This would mean that there are a whole lot of “junk texts” in the Hebrew Scriptures, but such a claim as this cannot coexist with the belief in the full inspiration of the Bible.
THE MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNING BODY HAVE ELEVATED THEMSELVES AS PROPHETS
The view of the Bible students in the 19th century and Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 20th century has been that no person today is inspired by God. In The Watchtower of November 1, 1946, page 30, we read:
How is disunity over each one’s individual interpretation of the Holy Scriptures now overcome and avoided? Is it because they are united around a visible human organization or around a visible human leader? The answer is No…
Hence Jehovah’s Witnesses do not claim the church to be what the religious Hierarchy claim their religious organization to be, namely, the one holding the magisterium or teaching office and hence “the divinely appointed Custodian and Interpreter of the Bible” and whose “office of infallible Guide were superfluous if each individual could interpret the Bible for himself.
She [The JW Church] is not the teacher of God’s servants and witnesses, but looks to God as the Teacher by Christ Jesus. As it is written for her benefit: “And all thy children shall be taught of Jehovah.” (Isa 54:13, A.S.V.; John 6:45)
This quotation shows that the organization and leaders of the organization are not the interpreters of the Bible. From the days of C.T. Russell, the Witnesses believed that there was a “faithful and discreet slave” that should give the people of God spiritual food at the appointed time. The view was that this “slave” was all the anointed Christians on earth at a given moment. These anointed ones included men and women and neither singularly nor as a group did these anointed Christians function as a prophet.
The view of the “slave” changed in 2013 when the eight men who were members of the Governing Body claimed that they were “the faithful and discreet slave” that would give spiritual food at the proper time. This new view is not the only reason why I say that they have elevated themselves to the status of prophets. The other reason is that they do not believe in the full inspiration of the Bible and that they set the text of the Bible aside and preach their own opinions instead of the message of the Bible. I have shown in the discussion above that the members of the Governing Body have rejected most of what Jesus said about the resurrection, and that they do not believe that large portions of the Hebrew Scriptures have any direct meaning for us today. And so, it is in this manner that they have elevated themselves as prophets because they put their own opinions above the text of the Bible.
In what follows, I will give some examples of how the Governing Body has set forth their own opinions above the text of the Bible, and by this, have elevated themselves to the status of prophets.
REMINDERS IN THE PURE WORSHIP BOOK
A very good example of how the members of the Governing Body have elevated themselves as prophets is the book, Pure Worship of Jehovah — Restored at Last (2018). This is a book discussing the prophecy of Ezekiel. In 1971, the book, The Nations Shall Know That I Am Jehovah — How? was published, and this is also a discussion of the prophecy of Ezekiel.
On the surface, the Pure Worship book may seem to be similar in composition to the Know Jehovah book. But if we look a little deeper, we see that the Pure Worship book does not resemble any other commentary to a prophetic book published by Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Know Jehovah book discusses the Hebrew text of the prophet Ezekiel, shows what this text actually means in context, and then shows how the prophecies and prophetic types of Ezekiel are fulfilled in our day and in the future. The Pure Worship book, for the most part, ignores the original text of the Bible itself, and it denies to a great extent that the accounts of Ezekiel are prophetic types.
And what is the very backbone of the new approach to the text of Ezekiel and the other books of the Hebrew Scriptures? What is important is what the text of Ezekiel reminds the Governing Body of and not what the Hebrew text says.
|The text of the Bible is no longer the focus of the Governing Body, but what this text reminds the Governing Body of. This means that the authority has been moved from the text of the Bible to the minds of the members of the Governing Body. Thus, they have elevated themselves as prophets.|
As I have discussed above, rejecting the words of Jesus about the resurrection, is a clear rejection of the full inspiration of the Bible. The same is true with the claim that large portions of the text of the Hebrew Scriptures have no meaning for us today. Focusing on what the Bible text reminds the Governing Body of is the other side of that coin. And this is yet another way to deny the full inspiration of the text of the Bible because it devalues the meaning of this text, while prominently featuring the views and opinions of the members of the Governing Body above the text of the Bible.
In my book, My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, pages 375-376, reminders from the Pure Worship book are listed. In addition to the comments in the book that are labeled as reminders, there are many examples where the word “remind” is not used, but the text is applied as a reminder. There are also many “lessons” we can learn from the text that also represent the subjective views of the Governing Body. Some of the reminders follow:
- The description of the living creatures: “reminds us of God’s name, Jehovah, which we understand to mean ‘He Causes to Become.’”(43)
- Ezekiel’s vision of Jehovah’s holiness and his surpassing might: “reminds us that Jehovah is worthy of receiving our worship.” (49)
- Apostate Judah: “reminds us of Christendom.” (54)
- Ezekiel’s prophecy about the end: “reminds us that when the coming attack against religious organizations occurs, members of the churches will not be ‘going to battle’ to defend religion. Instead, as they begin to realize that their cry for help, ‘Lord, Lord,’ is going unanswered, ‘their hands will hang limp’ and they will be ‘shuddering.’” (69)
- Ezekiel’s statements regarding the fall of Jerusalem: “remind us that the time still available for helping others to become God’s servants is limited.” (70)
- The inspired description recorded at Ezekiel 34:15, 6: “has often been used to remind Christian shepherds of the standard set by Jehovah God and Jesus Christ.” (107)
- The prophecy about the reviving of the dry bones: “God who has the power to breathe life into dead bones can surely give us the strength we need to overcome obstacles—even those that, humanly speaking, are insurmountable. Read Psalm 18:29; Phil 4:13. We may be reminded that many centuries before Ezekiel’s day, the prophet Moses stated that Jehovah has not only the power but also the desire to use his strength in behalf of his people. (120)
- The perimeter wall: “reminds us that we must never let anything corrupt our worship of Jehovah.” (152)
- The lofty outer gates and inner gates: “remind us that Jehovah has high standards of conduct for all who would engage in pure worship.” (152)
- Anointed ones can find useful reminders in Ezekiel’s vision of the temple: “They note, for instance, that the priests were subject to counsel and discipline.” (158)
- The conditions in unfaithful Jerusalem: “certainly remind us of what is happening in Christendom.” (174)
- Trees for food and healing: “They thus remind us that we serve the God who generously feeds us and heals us in the most important way, spiritually.” (207)
- Marshy places that remained barren, abandoned to salt: “We may be reminded . . . How foolish are those who stubbornly refuse to drink from the precious water of life!” (209)
- Lifting faithful humans to perfection: “reminds us of those trees that Ezekiel saw along the riverbanks, trees that bear nourishing fruit and have leaves that heal.”(210)
- Jews returning from Babylon to Jerusalem: “remind us of a similar development that has been taking place among God’s people in modern times.” (213)
- Considering details about the land and the inhabitants in the temple vision: “We are reminded that equality and unity need to be outstanding features of our worldwide brotherhood today.” (217)
- The city in the temple vision stands on common, or nonsacred, land: “It reminds us that the city refers, not to a heavenly, but to an earthly administration, which has been functioning for the benefit of all who inhabit the spiritual paradise.” (221)
- The workers near the city come from among all the tribes of Israel: “Does this arrangement remind us of an opportunity that we have today? Yes. Today all inhabitants of the spiritual paradise have the opportunity to support the service of Christ’s anointed brothers and the service of those among the ‘great crowd’ whom Jehovah has appointed to take the lead.” (222)
- The prophetic descriptions of Israel and Judah as being like prostitutes: “remind us of just how repugnant spiritual adultery is to Jehovah.”(228)
A number of the comments that are said to be reminders or function as reminders are quite petty. Claiming that God created these elaborate and spectacular visions or caused the prophet to describe a dramatic situation only to remind us of some inconsequential idea does not accord with the ways of Jehovah. Three examples follow:
Seventy Elders Offering Incense to False Gods (8:7–12) = For our prayers to be heard by God—and to keep our worship pure in his eyes—we must remain faithful even “in the darkness.” (Prov. 15:29).
Women . . . Weeping Over the god Tammuz (8:13, 14) = To keep our worship pure, never mix it with unclean pagan practices.
Men “Bowing Down to the Sun” (8:15–18) = To keep our worship pure, we must look to Jehovah for spiritual enlightenment.
All three reminders are true. But they are already directly or indirectly mentioned or hinted at in a number of places in the Bible. That the spirit of God should convey the three dramatic situations in the mind of Ezekiel just to stress these basic and mundane ideas does not make sense. However, taking these three situations as prophetic types, as does the Know Jehovah book accords well with the prophetic nature of the book of Ezekiel.
A number of the reminders are allegorical. Ezekiel saw a vision of a new temple with walls and gates. The allegorical interpretations are as follows:
The perimeter wall: “reminds us that we must never let anything corrupt our worship of Jehovah.” (p. 152)
The lofty outer gates and inner gates: “remind us that Jehovah has high standards of conduct for all who would engage in pure worship.” (p. 152)
These interpretations are pulled out of thin air. There is no natural association, for one to be reminded of, between “walls” and ‘not corrupting the worship of Jehovah,’ or between “gates” and ‘standards of conduct.” The connection between one thing to another needs to be scripturally established first, only then can one be reminded of it. The Pure Worship book does not present any textual evidence for these associations. The authority for these conclusions is, instead, centered around what the members of the Governing Body and the author were reminded of when they read the book of Ezekiel. All the allegorical reminders stress the fact that the members of the Governing Body have elevated themselves as prophets. Their opinion is put above the text of the Bible.
REMINDERS FROM DIFFERENT HEBREW SCRIPTURES
The same approach that the Governing Body used in the Pure Worship book can be found in their treatment of other texts of the Hebrew Scriptures. I give one example in addition to the reminders in the Pure Worship book. According to the Governing Body, the text of the Hebrew Scriptures was written to teach us moral lessons and to give reminders to the Governing Body. All the banal and allegorical reminders stress the fact that the members of the Governing Body have elevated themselves as prophets — their interpretations in no way can be tested by the readers, but the readers must without evidence believe that they are true. This means that the subjective opinions of the members of the Governing Body are put above the text of the Bible. I give one example.
The Watchtower of November 2019 has the article, “Lessons We Can Learn from the Book of Leviticus.” The article says, “Leviticus was written 3,500 years ago, yet Jehovah had it preserved ‘for our instruction.’ (Rom. 15:4)” The article discusses the following lessons that we can learn from the book:
1) We need to have Jehovah’s approval for our sacrifices to be accepted.
2) We serve Jehovah because we are grateful to him.
3) Out of love, we give Jehovah our best.
4) Jehovah is blessing the earthly part of his organization.
The points above are fine but trivial, and we can find similar points in many other books of the Bible. The reference to Romans 15:4 is interesting. The text says: For all the things that were written beforehand were written for our instruction.” And what was the purpose of this instruction? The text says “that we must have hope.” But these points do not give us any hope. The claim that Leviticus was written to teach the aforementioned lessons is, in reality, a devaluation of the book as the Word of God.
However, the book of Leviticus also contains a number of special accounts that, according to the Christian Greek Scriptures are types of greater things. Important examples are the festivals, the weekly sabbath, the yearly sabbaths, the day of atonement, and the Jubilee. Paul says in Colossians 2:16, 17 that these are shadows of a reality (antitype) that comes with the Christ. A discussion of the antitypes of what is mentioned would have given us hope. But the members of the Governing Body do not accept the words of Paul.
One attempt to deal with the Jubilee as a type is found in the article “Jehovah Provides for Your Liberty” in The Watchtower of December 2019, pages 8-13. However, this discussion is a bleak and diluted attempt at an antitypical application of the Jubilee in comparison with the article in The Watchtower of August 1. 1976, pages 454, 455. And the discussion in The Watchtower of December 2019 is along the lines of “this reminds us of” rather than a detailed exposition of the antitypical nature of the Jubilee. Moreover, the cycles of 7 x 7 sabbath years and the 50th Jubilee year are fillers or “junk texts” that have no logical purpose if these cycles do not have an antitypical meaning. This is the view of the Governing Body.
. I refer to my book, My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition. Chapter 2 has a detailed discussion of the words about “the faithful and discreet slave” in Matthew 24:45-47 and Luke 12:35-43. The conclusion is that the view that a small group should constitute this “slave,” interpreting the Bible for others, is just fiction. The chapter demonstrates that this “slave” refers to any Christian who is faithful when Jesus comes as the judge in the great tribulation. Chapter 3 shows that there was no governing body in the first century, and a governing body in our time has no basis in the Bible.
. See My Beloved Religion —And The Governing Body, third edition, pages 355-364 for a discussion of the antitypical view of the Jubilee.
THE WORLDVIEW OF THE MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNING BODY HAS LED THEM TO DISAVOW THE FULL INSPIRATION OF THE SCRIPTURES
The members of the Governing Body believe that when the great tribulation comes. 20 million+ Jehovah’s Witnesses will survive and 8 billion+ others, most of whom have not had the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice, will experience everlasting annihilation. Because of this belief, it is not possible for them to believe the words of Jesus that the inhabitants of Corazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida, Sodom and Gomorrah, who were wicked, will get a resurrection on Judgment Day.
Because of the exclusive view, the members of the Governing Body have of themselves, that they have been appointed by God to be a government for Jehovah’s Witnesses and as interpreters of the Bible, they have taken liberties with the text of the Bible. They have decided that a great part of the Hebrew Scriptures have no meaning for us today, and instead of analyzing and applying the text of the prophets, as the Watchtower literature always has done, they ask what the text reminds them of, and these reminders are presented as spiritual food. These reminders represent an addition to the Bible, and therefore the members of the Governing Body have behaved as prophets who are standing above the Bible. Thus, their world view, including the exclusive view they have of themselves, have led them to abandon the full inspiration of the Bible.
In chapter 1 of my book, My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, I argue that Jehovah’s Witnesses represent the only true religion. It is the only organization whose basic doctrines are solely based on the Bible, it is preaching the good news of the Kingdom world wide, and it is separated from the world. But the worldview that the Governing Body are teaching to the Witnesses is erroneous. And the reason for this, is a misunderstanding of the meaning and scope of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
In order to understand the situation in our time, we can look at the situation in the first century CE. Jesus preached the good news of the Kingdom, and he taught his disciples to preach the good news as well, as we see in Matthew chapter 10. The preaching continued after Jesus had ascended to heaven, and Christian congregations were founded in different places. What was the purpose of the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom? The purpose was to teach people about Jehovah God and his Son Jesus Christ and to help them to live as Christians. When persons had become servants of God, they were called to become members of God’s Kingdom, the heavenly government of 144 000 members.
It is important to stress that the purpose of the preaching was not to separate all living people in two groups, the Christian servants of God who would receive everlasting life, and all the others, who would be eternally annihilated. This is particularly seen in the words of Jesus regarding the resurrection. He showed that “this wicked and adulterous generation” would have a resurrection on Judgment Day, where the individuals of this generation would have the chance to get everlasting life, as I have discussed in detail above.
|The main purpose of the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom in the first century CE was to find and educate persons who would rule with Jesus Christ in God’s Kingdom.|
All the 144 000 members of the heavenly government were not gathered in the first century CE. The illustration about the wheat and the weeds shows that a thin thread of true Christians would exist in the centuries after Jesus’ ascension to heaven. But first in the conclusion of the system of things, which would last from the year 1914 until the great tribulation, would the wheat, the Kingdom heirs, finally be collected. (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)
In his great prophecy about the conclusion of the system of things, which is the same as his presence as King, “this good news of the Kingdom” should be preached as a witness to all the nations. (Matthew 24:14) There was a difference between the Kingdom preaching of Jesus and the Kingdom preaching of John, Peter, and Paul after Jesus had ascended to heaven. Jesus said: “The kingdom has come near,” and “The Kingdom is in your midst.” He could say this because he, as the King, was in their midst. After his ascension, his disciples preached about the future Kingdom that would come. We note that Jesus used the demonstrative pronoun “this” in the expression “this good news of the Kingdom.” So, this good news, the same good news that Jesus preached, i.e., the Kingdom has been established and it is in your midst, should be preached during the conclusion of the system of things. Because Jehovah’s Witnesses is the only group believing that the Kingdom was established in the year 1914 with Jesus Christ as King, they are the only group that is preaching that “the Kingdom is in your midst.”
What was the purpose of the preaching? It was to give a witness to all the nations. And what was the aim of this witness? Jesus gave the answer in Matthew 28:19, 20:
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, 20 teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”
The Greek word with the meaning “to preach” is keryssō, and it has always a positive tenet, such as believing in Jesus Christ, repentance, salvation, and everlasting life. There is no example of the use of the word “preach” with a negative tenet, such as scaring the listeners or separating wicked people from the righteous ones. The verb “to warn” is nouthteō, It occurs eight times; the corresponding noun nouthesia “warning” occurs three times. These words are used in connection with Christian living to warn of dangers. But they are never used in a context where unbelievers are warned of the consequences if they do not become Christians.
Making disciples of people of the nations have two sides. A part of the 144 000 heavenly kings was gathered in the first century CE. And from the 1870s, when C.T. Russell and the Bible Students started their preaching work, the hope that was preached was to become a part of the heavenly Kingdom. Because of this preaching, the rest of the 144 000 Kings were gathered during the last part of the 19th century and during the conclusion of the system of things that began in 1914. In the year 1935, a number of persons who did not have the hope of ruling with Jesus Christ in heaven started to appear. They looked forward to be present in the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ. The message that was preached from that year onward was the hope of living in the earthly paradise., and in Revelation 7:9-17 a great crowd that has survived the great tribulation is presented.
I will now connect the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom and making disciples with the application of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The important point is that Jesus by his death bought all Adam’s descendants, and God’s righteousness and love for the human family requires that each one of Adam’s descendants gets a personal chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. This was believed by C.T. Russell and the Bible students and it is clearly expressed in The Watchtower, No. 12, Volume XI 1880, page 4 (Reprints page 1261) that I have quoted above.
Before the the Governing Body was instituted in the year 1971, the leaders of the Watchtower Society expressed about the same view as Russel and the Bible students, the same view that I have: Jesus bought all the descendants of Adam when he gave his life as a sacrifice. Most of the descendants of Adam, both the righteous and the wicked will have a resurrection on Judgment Day.
No person who lived and died before Jesus came to the earth had the chance of accepting or rejecting the ransom sacrifice, and very few persons who lived and died between the first century CE and the 21st century CE had this chance. As I have shown in the article, “The members of the Governing Body have devalued and restricted the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ,” more than 6 billion+ people who are living when the great tribulation comes will not have had this chance. And here we see the real purpose of the thousand-year-long Judgment Day. Most people who have lived and died will get a resurrection under circumstances that are favorable: Satan will not be present, the ransom sacrifice will be applied to each one who have received a resurrection, and gradually throughout the 1000 years each one will proceed toward perfection. At the end of the 1000 years, each one will be perfect and free of sin, and therefore, each on will get exactly the same chance that Adam got.
How will the present preaching and making disciples have a bearing on what will happen on Judgment Day? In order to receive the people who will get a resurrection in a good way, giving them food and shelter, and teaching them the truth about Jehovah God and Jesus Christ, there must be Godfearing persons present before the resurrection starts. And here we see the real purpose of the preaching, namely, to create a society of Godfearing people who will survive the great tribulation and who can be used by God to make the earth ready for those who will be resurrected. There is no other group than Jehovah’s Witnesses who can be used as the foundation of the “new earth.”
There is no other group than Jehovah’s Witnesses who believe that some people will survive the great tribulation, and will be used the make the earth into a paradise. Neither is there any other group who stresses the importance to live according to God’s principles in the Bible, and who consciously form their lives so Jehovah can use them to receive and care for those who will get a resurrection. Therefore, the purpose of the preaching today is to find persons who can be a part of this group, and who will be the foundation of the new system of things that God will establish on the earth.
|The preaching of the good news of the Kingdom has two purposes:
1) To gather the rest of the 144000 that shall reign with Jesus Chris from heaven.
2) To gather a group of Godfearing people who will survive the great tribulation and who will do the work of making the earth ready for those who will be resurrected.
. See the very important article, “The members of the Governing Body have devalued and restricted the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ” in the category, “The Governing Body.”
. A detailed discussion of the ransom sacrifice and how the members of the Governing Body have erred in connection with the understanding of the ransom sacrifice is found in my article, “The members of the Governing Body have devalued and restricted the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ” in the category “The Governing Body.”
. See note 3 for the five articles from 1965 where the resurrection was discussed.
The Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses have for 120 years believed that every word in the Bible is inspired by God, and every account is included with a particular purpose. The members of the present Governing Body no longer believe in the full inspiration of the Bible.
They have rejected the words of Jesus in Matthew chapters 10, 11, and 12 where he shows that the people of “the wicked and adulterous generation” of his day, as well as the people in Sodom and Gomorrah will get a resurrection.
They have also claimed that great parts of the Hebrew Scriptures have no meaning for us today. In other words, they were not included in the text with a particular purpose; only to convey a few moral principles or general lessons.
The Song of Solomon is used as an example. The book describes a drama with several persons that are speaking and acting. But this drama has no meaning for us today, the members of the Governing Body say. The few moral principles that the members of the Governing Body believe can be extracted from the book are also misapplied: The book only describes erotic or romantic love. But the Governing Body wrongly applies this to other kinds of love.
The actions of the members of the Governing Body imply that they have elevated themselves to the status of prophets. This is seen in the book Pure Worship Of Jehovah — Restored At Last (2018). The literal meaning of the text of Ezekiel is ignored, and what this text reminds the Governing Body of is instead presented as the authority for the book’s conclusions. This new approach is also an attack on the full inspiration of the Bible because the scripture text is put in the background and the views and opinions of the Governing Body are presented front and center as the word of God.