I have placed this study in the category “The Governing Body” instead of the category “Bible study” because of the article, “The members of the Governing Body have devalued and restricted the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ.”
All descendants of Adam have inherited sin from their first father. Jesus was sent to the earth in order to save the world, i.e., all the descendants of Adam. Therefore, he provided the ransom sacrifice.
Jesus is the antitypical high priest
The actions of the high priest in Israel on the day of atonement is a picture of what Jesus did. And it shows the four steps necessary for the application of the ransom sacrifice, 1) the death of Jesus, 2) the resurrection of Jesus, 3) the ascension of Jesus, and 4) Jesus’ presentation of the value of his blood before Jehovah.
The details of how Jesus saved what Adam lost
Adam had the right to live forever on the earth. Because of his sin, he lost this right for himself and for all his descendants. Jesus bought back what Adam lost, and when he presented the value of his blood to Jehovah in heaven, he bought all Adam’s descendants.
The Jews were under the curse of the law, and that would prevent them from getting everlasting life. However, the death of Jesus took their sin away, and his death on a stake took away the curse of the law.
The heirs of the heavenly kingdom got the right to live forever on the earth when Jesus died. But this did not give them the right to live in heaven. After the ransom sacrifice was applied to a person, God declared the person righteous, baptized him or her with holy spirit, so, the person became “a new creature.” On this basis, he or she had the right to get a heavenly resurrection.
Those who sinned against the holy spirit were also bought by Jesus and had the right to live forever on the earth. But because their actions were not caused by their inherited sin but by their own wickedness, there is no ransom sacrifice for these sins. Therefore, they will not get a resurrection but are eternally annihilated.
All who are bought by Jesus must have a chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice
Paul shows that when Jehovah applies the ransom sacrifice, he must be righteous, and Peter shows that God “does not desire anyone to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” Jesus shows that the persons belonging to “the wicked and adulterous generation” living in his time will get a resurrection on Judgment Day to get the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. Because of God’s love and righteousness “the vast majority of dead mankind” will get a resurrection, as The Watchtower of March 15, 1965 wrote.
The ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ is of great importance for God’s servants. When asked, they will say that when Jesus died, he provided the ransom sacrifice by his death, and by believing in Jesus, we will receive forgiveness for our sins. This is a correct answer, but most Christians do not know all the details in connection with what the ransom sacrifice really is and how it is applied to all Adam’s descendants.
For example, New Revised Standard Version renders 2 Corinthians 5:15 this way:
15 And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.
This text shows that not only the death of Jesus but also his resurrection is important for the servants of God. This is also shown in other passages. Paul says in Philippians 3:10: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.” Peter says in 1 Peter 1:3 that “he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” And regarding baptism, we read in 1 Peter 3:21 that “it saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Few Christians can explain the role played by the resurrection of Jesus in connection with the ransom sacrifice, so let us consider what the Bible says.
. I quote NRSV because the rendering of most translations, including NWT 84 and NWT13 of the last part of this verse is strange. Literally, the Greek text says: “for them died and was raised.” The important point is that the verbs apothnēskō (“to die”) and egeirō (“to raise”) both are aorist participles masculine singular dative, and the only difference is that “to die” is active while “to raise” is passive. Because both participles stand in the dative case and are connected with kai (“and”), they must have the same relationship to the words “for them.” The Norwegian Church bibles of 1930 and 2011 have the same translation as NRSV. I simply do not understand the reasoning of those translators who separate the two participles and only connect “to die” with “for them.”
THE LAW OF MOSES CONTAINS TYPES OR SHADOWS THAT REFER TO ANTITYPES IN CONNECTION WITH JESUS CHRIST
In the epistle to the Hebrews, the arrangement with sacrifices in Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem is portrayed as a type of heavenly things. Hebrews 8:5 says:
5 These men are offering sacred service in a typical representation (hypodeigma) and a shadow (skia) of the heavenly things; just as Moses, when about to construct the tent, was given the divine command: For He says: “See that you make all things after their pattern (typos) that was shown to you in the mountain.”
When God instructed Moses to make the tabernacle, God said that he had to make it after the pattern he was shown on the mountain. The word “pattern” is translated from the Greek word typos, and according to Louw and Nida, the meaning of this word is “a visual form designed to be imitated or copied.” The sacred service in the tabernacle and later in the temple is said to be “a typical representation.” The Greek word hypodeigma has the meaning “a token, example, model” according to Mounce. Both typos and hypodeigma refer to something that is a type that points to an antitype. The word skia (“shadow”) is also used, and this word points to the same as the other two Greek words, though from a different point of view. The sacred service is a type of something bigger. It is also a shadow of something bigger, and the body that casts the shadow is the antitype.
A similar viewpoint is seen in Hebrews 10:1, where the law is the shadow (skia) and there is a reality, expressed by the Greek word eikon with the meaning “a material image; likeness” according to Mounce
1 For since the Law has a shadow (skia) of the good things to come, but not the very substance (eikōn) of the things, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered year after year, make those who approach perfect.
What we have learned so far from the epistle to the Hebrews is that a great part the writings of Moses are types of bigger things. We learn from 8:5 that the actions of the prests that were written in the law were types, and 10:1 tells us that the whole law consisted of types.
THE REALITY OF THE ACTIONS OF THE HIGH PRIEST ON THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
There are detailed instructions regarding the actions of the high priest on the day of atonement, and we read in Leviticus 16: 11-16:
11 “Aaron will present the bull of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement in behalf of himself and his house; afterward he will slaughter the bull of the sin offering, which is for himself. 12 “He will then take the fire holder full of burning coals from the altar before Jehovah and two handfuls of fine perfumed incense, and he will bring them inside the curtain. 13 He will also put the incense on the fire before Jehovah, and the cloud of the incense will envelop the Ark cover, which is on the Testimony, so that he may not die. 14 “He will take some of the bull’s blood and spatter it with his finger in front of the cover on the east side, and he will spatter some of the blood with his finger seven times before the cover. 15 “He will then slaughter the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the curtain and do with its blood the same as he did with the bull’s blood; he is to spatter it toward the cover and before the cover. 16 “He must make atonement for the holy place concerning the acts of uncleanness of the Israelites and concerning their transgressions and their sins, and that is what he should do for the tent of meeting, which is located among them in the midst of their acts of uncleanness.
Between the Holy and the Most Holy in the Tabernacle, there was a curtain. On the day of atonement, the high priest would go inside this curtain with incense and blood, and he would stand in God’s presence. With the blood of animals, the high priest made atonement for himself and for the people. This was an illustration of much bigger things, and this is explained in Hebrews 9:6-9:
6 After these things were constructed this way, the priests enter the first tent compartment regularly to perform the sacred services; 7 but the high priest enters alone into the second compartment once a year, not without blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins that the people committed in ignorance. 8 Thus the holy spirit makes it clear that the way into the holy place had not yet been revealed while the first tent was standing. 9 This tent is an illustration (parabolē) for the present time.
Verse 9 says that the service of the priests in the Tabernacle is “an illustration for the present time,” which refers to the time when Hebrews was written. The word “illustration” is translated from the Greek word parabolē, which according to Louw and Nida has the meaning, “a model or example which anticipates or precedes a later realization.” I will now look at the antitype in Hebrews 9:11-14, 24-28
11 However, when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have already taken place, he passed through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 He entered into the holy place, not with the blood of goats and of young bulls, but with his own blood, once for all time, and obtained an everlasting deliverance for us. 13 For if the blood of goats and of bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who have been defiled sanctifies for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of the Christ, who through an everlasting spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works so that we may render sacred service to the living God?
24 For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with hands, which is a copy (antitypos) of the reality (alethinos), but into heaven itself, so that he now appears before God on our behalf. 25 This was not done to offer himself often, as when the high priest enters into the holy place from year to year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise, he would have to suffer often from the founding of the world. But now he has manifested himself once for all time at the conclusion of the systems of things to do away with sin through the sacrifice of himself. 27And just as it is reserved for men to die once for all time, but after this to receive a judgment, 28 so also the Christ was offered once for all time to bear the sins of many; and the second time that he appears it will be apart from sin, and he will be seen by those earnestly looking for him for their salvation.
That different things and actions in the law that were types, and the reality that would come in connection with Jesus, is again stressed in these verses. The noun antitypos has the meaning “a correspondent stamp or form,” according to Mounce. And alēthinos has the meaning “real; true.” In this context, antitypos is the type or the shadow and alēthinos is the body casting the shadow or the reality. And in Hebrew 8:5, typos and hypodeigma was the type.
I will now look at the antitype of the high priests’ entering the most holy with blood. Verse 24 shows that the most holy in the Tabernacle was a picture of heaven. And Jesus, as the antitypical high priest, entered into heaven with his own blood that he sacrificed when he died. The last clause in verse 24 is important for us. We read that “he now appears before God on our behalf.” This shows that the action of Jesus both of spilling his blood when he died and that he presented his blood in heaven, are not mere formalities without meaning. But this is done “on our behalf,” which means that the ransom sacrifice is applied for our benefit. We are now in the position that we can know the different details of the ransom sacrifice and his application.
|There were four necessary steps that must be taken before the ransom sacrifice can be applied for our benefit, 1) the death of Jesus, 2) his resurrection, 3) his ascension to heaven, and 4) his presentation of his sacrificed blood before Jehovah.|
. The word skia is also used in Colossians 2:16, 17. The shadow is the festivals, new moons, and sabbaths that were written in the law, and the body casting the shadow (the reality) is connected with Jesus Christ. We see that a great part of the law was types, and the antitypes would come in connections with the purpose in connection with Jesus Christ.
. Hebrews 10:10 says: “By this “will” we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.” When he died, Jesus sacrificed his body. But because his blood represented his life, Hebrews 9:12 says that he presented his own blood before Jehovah in heaven.
THE WAY THE ANTITYPICAL HIGH PRIEST MADE ATONEMENT FOR THE PEOPLE
In the section above, we have seen how Jesus Christ behaved in a similar way as the high priest in Israel on the day of atonement by dying, being resurrected, ascending to heaven, and presenting the ransom sacrifice to Jehova God. In this section, I will look at different sides of the the atonement based on the ransom sacrifice.
SELLING THE HUMAN RACE
The situation is one of selling and buying, and I would like to start this discussion by quoting Romans 7:14:
14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, sold (pipraskō) under sin.
The verb pipraskō has the meaning “to sell” according to Mounce, and “to dispose of property or provide services in exchange for money or other valuable considerations,” according to Louw and Nida. Aid to Bible Understanding (1971), page 1373, has the following comment on this issue:
The foregoing information lays the basis for understanding the ransom provided for humankind through God’s Son, Christ Jesus. Mankind’s need for a ransom came about through the rebellion in Eden. Adam sold himself to do evil for the selfish pleasure of listening to his wife’s voice and of keeping continued company with the sinful transgressor, and to share the same condemned standing with her before God. He thereby sold himself and his descendants into slavery to sin and to death, the price that God’s justice required. (Rom. 5:12-19; compare Romans 7:14-25.) Having possessed human perfection, Adam lost this valuable possession for himself and all his offspring.
This is an excellent explanation, and the issue is seen from another angle in 5:12:
12 That is why, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned.
The point of Paul is that Adam sold all his unborn descendants, and therefore each one has inherited sin that leads to death. In order to reverse the situation, what was sold, must be bought back.
BUYING BACK THE HUMAN RACE
In connection with buying back the human race, there are passages using words with the meaning of “buy” and with the meaning of “save.” Luke 19:10 says:
10 For the Son of man came to seek and to save (sōzō) what was lost.”
Adam lost the right to live forever on the earth and Jesus bought this back. Showing that the Bible writers realized that what was lost was bought back, I quote the three passages 1 Corinthians 6:20 (above), 7:23 (middle), and 2 Peter 2:1, 2 (below):
20 for you were bought (agorazō) with a price (time). By all means, glorify God in your body.
20 You were bought (agorazō) with a price (time); stop becoming slaves of men.
1 However, there also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among you. 2 These will quietly bring in destructive sects, and they will even disown the owner who bought (agorazō) them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves.
Paul mentions the price in 1 Timothy 2:5, 6 (above) and Matthew 20:28 (below):
5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself a corresponding ransom (antilytron) for all (pas)—this is what is to be witnessed to in its own due time.
28 Just as the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his life as a ransom (lytron) in exchange (anti) for many (polys).”
The Greek word antilytron is correctly translated by the expression “corresponding ransom,” which means that the ransom had exactly the same value as that which was redeemed. And this value was the perfect human life of Jesus corresponding to the perfect human life of Adam. In Matthew 20:28 the Greek word lytron without the prefixed preposition anti is used. However, this preposition anti is immediately following lytron as lytron anti, so the idea of a “corresponding ransom” is also expressed in Matthew 20:28. The lexicon Aid to Bible Understanding, page 1373, has a very fine description of the ransom sacrifice and the price paid:
But God is pleased to approve the application of the ransom to redeem those of Adam’s offspring who avail themselves of such release. As Paul states, “as through the disobedience of the one man many were constituted sinners, likewise also through the obedience of the one person many will be constituted righteous.” (Rom. 5:18, 19) At the time of Adam’s sin and his being sentenced to death, his offspring or race were all unborn in his loins and so all died with him. (Compare Hebrews 7:4-10; Romans 7:9.) Jesus as a perfect man, “the last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45), had a race or offspring unborn in his loins, and when he died innocently as a perfect human sacrifice this potential human race died with him. He had willingly abstained from producing a family of his own by natural procreation. Instead, Jesus uses the authority granted by Jehovah on the basis of his ransom to give life to all those who accept this provision.—1 Cor. 15:45; compare Romans 5:15-17.
The illustration of the potential unborn offspring of Adam and the potential unborn offspring of Jesus illustrated the situation. However, the sacrifice was not Jesus and his unborn offspring instead of Adam and his unborn offspring. But the ransom sacrifice was only the body and blood of the perfect man Jesus for the body and blood of the perfect man Adam.
THE APPLICATION OF THE RANSOM SACRIFICE FOR THE HYMAN RACE
A very important point is that Jesus, by dying, being resurrected, and ascending to heaven to present his ransom sacrifice to Jehovah, bought the whole human race, all the descendants of Adam. In my article. “The members of the Governing Body have devalued and restricted the ransom sacrifice” I show that in the 20th century, the Governing Body believed that Jesus bought all Adam’s descendants. But in the 21st century, the members of the Governing Body have published the view that Jesus only died for “many” and not for “all” Adam’s descendants; he died for those who will be saved. This is a clear devaluation and restriction of the ransom sacrifice, and I discuss in detail the application of the words “many” and “all” in the mentioned article. Aid to Bible Understanding (1971, page 1373, has again an excellent presentation of the scope of the ransom sacrifice.
Though available to all, Christ’s ransom sacrifice is not accepted by all, and the “wrath of God remains” upon those not accepting it, as it also comes upon those who first accept and then turn away from that provision. (John 3:36; Heb. 10:26-29; contrast Romans 6:9, 10.) They gain no deliverance from the enslavement to Kings Sin and Death. (Rom. 5:21) Under the Law the deliberate murderer could not be ransomed. Adam, by his willful course, brought death on all mankind, hence was a murderer. (Rom. 5:12) Thus, the sacrificed life of Jesus is not acceptable to God as a ransom for the sinner Adam.
The words in red are important. They show that Jesus bought all Adam’s descendants. But all will not accept the ransom sacrifice. The use of the word “accept” implies that all Adam’s descendants must be offered the ransom sacrifice, so they have the chance to accept it or reject it. I will return to this important issue below. Here I quote three passages showing that Jesus died for all, including those who were ungodly: Romans 5:6 (above), 2 Corinthians 5:15 (middle), and 2 Peter 2:1(below):
15 And he died for all so that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised up (literally: “who died and was raised up for them”).
6 For, indeed, while we were still weak, Christ died for ungodly men at the appointed time. 7 For hardly would anyone die for a righteous man; though perhaps for a good man someone may dare to die. 8 But God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
1 However, there also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among you. These will quietly bring in destructive sects, and they will even disown the owner who bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves.
The passages show that Jesus died “for all,” which includes “ungodly men.” We should particularly note the words of Peter that Jesus had even bought the false prophets who would bring in destructive sects. The actions of these men indicate that they had rejected the ransom sacrifice and had sinned against the holy spirit. This means that the view that Jesus only bought those who will be saved and that the ransom sacrifice only is applied to these is a false teaching! Even those who have sinned against the holy spirit are bought by Jesus.
THE VALUE OF THE RANSOM SACRIFICE — EVERLASTING LIFE ON THE EARTH
Adam was created as a perfect man who should live forever on this earth, and Jesus came to the earth to save or buy back, what was lost — everlasting life on the earth. But let us look at how this right to live forever on the earth is applied to different people. In order to understand the issue better, I use the following illustration: The sin we have inherited from Adam represents a debt of each descendant of Adam of 10,000 dollars. By the application of the ransom sacrifice to all Adam’s descendants, Jesus paid 10,000 dollars for each one. This means that the ransom sacrifice guarantees that every descendant of Adam has the right to live forever on earth. But the end result is that not everyone will live forever on the earth. Let us look at the reasons:
First, we consider the Jews:
The Jewish nation was the people of God, and Moses gave them around 500 different laws from God. These laws would help the nation in different ways, and Exodus 24:3 says:
3 Then Moses came and related to the people all the words of Jehovah and all the judicial decisions, and all the people answered with one voice: “All the words that Jehovah has spoken, we are willing to do.”
If the people did not stick to their words and keep all the laws they received from Moses, they would come under a curse, as Deuteronomy 27:26 says:
26 “‘Cursed is the one who will not uphold the words of this Law by carrying them out.’ (And all the people will say, ‘Amen!’)
Because of their inherited sin, no Jew was able to keep all the laws of God, and therefore the Jews came under the mentioned curse, which meant that they did not have the right to live. In order to continue our illustration, we may say that coming under the curse of the law meant that each Jew incurred a debt of 3,000 dollars. The death of Jesus and his presentation of his ransom sacrifice to Jehovah in heaven meant that 10,000 dollars were paid for each Jew. But because each Jew had an additional debt of 3,000 dollars, in spite of the ransom sacrifice they did not get the right to live forever on the earth.
Paul was a clear thinker, and he was inspired by God as well. He saw this problem with the extra debt of 3.000 dollars, and he knew the law, including Deuteronomy 21:22, 23:
22 “If a man commits a sin deserving the sentence of death and he has been put to death and you have hung him on a stake, 23 his dead body should not remain all night on the stake. Instead, you should be sure to bury him on that day, because the one hung up is something accursed of God, and you should not defile your land that Jehovah your God is giving you as an inheritance.
In his letter to the Galatians, 3:10-13, he shows how the situation with the debt of 3,000 dollars of each Jew because of the curse was solved:
10 All those who depend on works of law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not remain in all the things written in the scroll of the Law by doing them.” 11 Moreover, it is evident that by law no one is declared righteous with God,l because “the righteous one will live by reason of faith.” 12 Now the Law is not based on faith. Rather, “anyone who does these things will live by means of them.” 13 Christ purchased us, releasing us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse instead of us, because it is written: “Accursed is every man hung upon a stake.”
Peter also expresses the same point as Paul, though from a different viewpoint. We read in 1 Peter 2:24
24 He himself bore our sins in his own body on the stake, so that we might die to sins and live to righteousness. And “by his wounds you were healed.”
The words of Paul and Peter show that Jesus erased the debt of each Jew of 10,000 dollars by dying, and he erased the debt of 3,000 dollars for each Jew by dying on a stake. He took the curse of the Jews on himself instead of them. This means that each Jew now had the possibility of accepting what Jesus had done for him or her and all other Jews, and by this have the right to live forever on the earth. But as I show in my article, “Lord, are those being saved few? (Luke 13:23),” most of the Jewish nation rejected the offer God gave them.
Second, we consider the heirs of the heavenly Kingdom:
The Christian Greek Scriptures were written for those who would be among the 144,000 kings of the heavenly Kingdom. Because people today are not aware of the two different hopes, the heavenly one and the earthly one, they apply the text of the Christian Greek Scriptures to themselves. And this leads to serious misunderstandings.
In the year 33 CE, when Jesus presented his ransom sacrifice to Jehovah, according to our illustration he paid 10,000 dollars for all Adam’s descendants, and 3,000 dollars for each one of the Jews. This included Paul and Peter and all the other Christians who were called to the heavenly Kingdom. But because the price that was paid only gave each person the right to live forever on the earth, the ransom sacrifice of Jesus could not lead anyone to heaven. The price for coming to heaven was 20,000 dollars.
The persons whom Jesus bought by his death were still imperfect and were sinners, even though Jesus had bought back their right to live forever on the earth. So, all the time, they had to ask for forgiveness of their sins because of the ransom sacrifice. But on the basis of the ransom sacrifice, God could take the necessary steps so persons with a heavenly hope in time could get a heavenly resurrection. In line with our illustration Jehovah could pay the extra 10,000 dollars in addition to the 10,000 dollars paid by the ransom sacrifice.
The first step was to declare these persons righteous. Those who will live in the future paradise earth will not become righteous before the end of the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus. However, those who are called to the heavenly Kingdom will not be present during the 1,000 years and experience the gradual process that leads to perfection and a righteous standing. But imperfect humans cannot get a heavenly resurrection. Because the ransom sacrifice for each one has been presented to Jehovah, he can make the judicial act of declaring them righteous on the basis of the ransom sacrifice and their faith in Jesus Christ. Paul shows this in Romans 3:22-24, 28:
22 yes, God’s righteousness through the faith in Jesus Christ, for all those having faith. For there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and it is as a free gift that they are being declared righteous by his undeserved kindness through the release by the ransom paid by Christ Jesus.
28 For we consider that a man is declared righteous by faith apart from works of law.
What does it mean to be declared righteous? The person still is imperfect and is sinning. But he or she is judicially counted or credited as righteous. On this background, it is easier to understand the words of Paul in Romans 7:14-25:
14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand what I am doing. For I do not practice what I wish, but I do what I hate. 16 However, if I do what I do not wish, I agree that the Law is fine. 17 But now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that resides in me. 18 For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, there dwells nothing good; for I have the desire to do what is fine but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good that I wish, but the bad that I do not wish is what I practice. 20 If, then, I do what I do not wish, I am no longer the one carrying it out, but it is the sin dwelling in me.21 I find, then, this law in my case: When I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me. 22 I really delight in the law of God according to the man I am within, 23 but I see in my body another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law that is in my body. 24 Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death? 25 Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So, then, with my mind I myself am a slave to God’s law, but with my flesh to sin’s law.
When Paul regarding sin in verse 17 says: “But now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that resides in me,” that could seem to be an excuse: “I am not responsible for the wrong I am doing.” But because Paul had been declared righteous, it was not “he” that is doing the sin. This will be clearer when I introduce the concept of “a new creature.” But before I do that I will quote Romans 8:33, 34:
33 Who will file accusation against God’s chosen ones? God is the One who declares them righteous. 34 Who will condemn them? Christ Jesus is the one who died, yes, more than that, the one who was raised up, who is at the right hand of God and who also pleads for us.
Because those who have been declared righteous from a judicial point of view, from God’s action is declared righteous, no one could accuse these persons even though their flesh still was imperfect and was sinning.
As I already have mentioned, a person to whom the ransom sacrifice is applied and he or she is declared righteous, has the right to live forever on the earth. But he or she has no right to get a heavenly resurrection. Therefore, God must do something in addition to declaring a person righteous in order to prepare him for the heavenly resurrection. Jesus showed this in his conversation with Nicodemus:
We read in John 3:1-8:
1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nic·o·deʹmus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This one came to him in the night and said to him: “Rabbi, we know that you have come from God as a teacher, for no one can perform these signs that you perform unless God is with him.” 3 In response Jesus said to him: “Most truly I say to you, unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” 4 Nic·o·deʹmus said to him: “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter into the womb of his mother a second time and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered: “Most truly I say to you, unless anyone is born from water and spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. 6 What has been born from the flesh is flesh, and what has been born from the spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed because I told you: You people must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who has been born from the spirit.”
Jesus shows that to become a part of the kingdom of God, a person must be born again, which means to be born from water and spirit. What does this mean? John the Baptist baptized repentant persons in water. But he showed that Jesus would perform another kind of baptism, as we read in John 1:33:
33 ´Even I did not know him, but the very One who sent me to baptize in water said to me: ‘Whoever it is upon whom you see the spirit coming down and remaining, this is the one who baptizes in holy spirit.
Luke was probably the one who wrote the book of Acts, and in 1:4, 5 he refers the words of Jesus regarding baptism in holy spirit:
4 While he was meeting with them, he ordered them: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but keep waiting for what the Father has promised, about which you heard from me; 5 for John, indeed, baptized with water, but you will be baptized with holy spirit not many days after this.”
The words of Jesus were fulfilled on the day of Pentecost in 33 CE. Many Jewish proselytes were baptized with holy spirit, according to Acts 2:1-4, and the same happened with Cornelius and those who were together with him, according to Acts 10:44-46.
Jesus said that to enter into the Kingdom of God one has to be born again, i.e., born from water and spirit. And this means to be baptized with holy spirit. One clue to the real meaning of this and to its purpose is the expression “born again,” and “becoming a new creature,” as we read in 2 Corinthians 5:16-18
16 So from now on we know no man from a fleshly viewpoint. Even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, we certainly no longer know him in that way. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in union with Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; look! new things have come into existence. 18 But all things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of the reconciliation.
It is logical that if a person is “born again,” he or she is “a new creature.” But why must those who will reign with Jesus in heaven become new creatures? We get an answer in 1 Corinthians 15:42-50:
42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised up in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised up in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised up in power. 44 It is sown a physical body; it is raised up a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living person.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, what is spiritual is not first. What is physical is first, and afterward what is spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth and made of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 Like the one made of dust, so too are those made of dust; and like the heavenly one, so too are those who are heavenly. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the one made of dust, we will bear also the image of the heavenly one. 50 But I tell you this, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s Kingdom, nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
When the ransom sacrifice is applied to a person, he gets the right that Adam sold, to live forever on the earth. But Paul says in verse 50 that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s Kingdom. Jesus Christ was raised as a spirit according to verse 45. Those who will get a heavenly resurrection, they will get spiritual bodies just like Jesus. Therefore, they must be new creatures. Paul uses the illustration of a grain that is sown. The Kingdom heirs still have their imperfect human body, and when they die, this body is sown, but a spiritual body is raised.
Peter also writes about this issue in 1 Peter 1:3, 4, 23:
3 Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for according to his great mercy he gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance. It is reserved in the heavens for you.
23 For you have been given a new birth, not by corruptible, but by incorruptible seed, through the word of the living and enduring God.
Peter shows that the purpose of the new birth as new creatures was the hope of a perfect inheritance in the heavens. This was through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This means the basis for being a new creation is that Jesus was resurrected and presented his ransom sacrifice in heaven. When the ransom sacrifice was provided, God declared the Kingdom heir righteous, and baptized him or her with holy spirit, so he or she became a new creature. It is important to understand that the 10,000 dollars Jesus paid for each one of Adam’s descendants was not enough for a heavenly resurrection. But declaring a person righteous and baptizing him or her in holy spirit and making him a new creature was worth extra 10,000 dollars. On this basis, a person could receive the unfading inheritance in the heavens.
Third, we consider those who have sinned against the holy spirit:
Jesus showed that some of Adam’s descendants will not get a resurrection during the his Thousand Year Reign, We read in Luke 20:34-36:
34 Jesus said to them: “The children of this system of things marry and are given in marriage,35 but those who have been counted worthy of gaining that system of things and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36 In fact, neither can they die anymore, for they are like the angels, and they are God’s children by being children of the resurrection.
The word “system of things” (aiōn) refers to the new earth and not to heaven. Jesus shows that some persons will not get a resurrection on the new earth. Who are these persons? They must have sinned against the holy spirit, which cannot be forgiven. What exactly is that?
What is the difference between the sins that can be forgiven and those that cannot be forgiven? Every sin that directly or indirectly is caused by our imperfection, by the sin we have inherited, can be forgiven. But sins that are caused by our own wickedness cannot be forgiven. What does that mean? According to Matthew 12:27, the sons (disciples) of the Pharisees could expel demons. In this case, the demons cooperated with the disciples of the Pharisees, in order to mislead those who saw the demons being expelled. When this expelling of demons occurred, the Pharisees evidently used this as evidence that God was on their side. Jesus expelled demons on a much greater scale than the disciples of the Pharisees. But in his case, the Pharisees said that Jesus expelled the demons with the help of Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons (verse 24).
Were the Pharisees led by their imperfection, by their inherited sin to ascribe the great works of Jesus to Satan? Did they say this because they had inherited sin from their first father? No! They accused Jesus of being in league with Satan because they were wicked, and Jesus threatened their position. This was a conscious decision that could not be ascribed to their inherited sin. Sin against the holy spirit, therefore, is an intentional wicked course of action that continues despite the fact that the actor knows that his or her course is wicked, and it is done because of pure selfishness. When sin against the holy spirit is done. the person is no longer able to repent.
In connection with our illustration of a debt of 10,000 dollars for each descendant of Adam we will read 2 Peter 2:1:
However, there also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among you. These will quietly bring in destructive sects, and they will even disown the owner who bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves.
The false prophets who would bring in destructive sects most likely had sinned against the holy spirit, but still, Peter says that they were bought by Jesus Christ. This shows that Jesus bought each one of Adam’s descendants, also those who sinned against the holy spirit. This means that Jesus paid 10,000 dollars for each one, and 3,000 dollars for each Jew in addition. So, at the outset, those who sinned against the holy spirit had the right to live forever on the new earth. However, because their sins were caused by their own selfishness and wickedness, and not because of the sin they had inherited from Adam, they had acquired an additional debt of 6,000 dollars. And even though their debt of 10,000 dollars was paid, they will not get a resurrection because of their unpaid debt of 6,000 dollars.
The group of Pharisees that sinned against the holy spirit had not been Christians, and the false teachers who brought in destructive sects may or may not have been Christians. However, there are some persons who had been Christians who also sinned against the holy spirit, and the illustration of the dollars also fits their situation. We read in Hebrews 6:4-6 (above) and 10:26-31 (below):
4 For as regards those who were once enlightened and who have tasted the heavenly free gift and who have become partakers of holy spirit 5 and who have tasted the fine word of God and powers of the coming system of things, 6 but have fallen away, it is impossible to revive them again to repentance, because they nail the Son of God to the stake again for themselves and expose him to public shame.
26 For if we practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left, 27 but there is a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a burning indignation that is going to consume those in opposition. 28 Anyone who has disregarded the Law of Moses dies without compassion on the testimony of two or three. 29 How much greater punishment do you think a person will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God and who has regarded as of ordinary value the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and who has outraged the spirit of undeserved kindness with contempt? 30 For we know the One who said: “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again: “Jehovah will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
There is one misunderstanding that is easy to make, and that is the application of the words “have fallen away.” This does not refer to persons who have left the Christian congregation for different reasons. But it refers to persons who “practice sin wilfully” (10:26), and whose conscience is so hard that he or she is not able to repent (6:6). This is sin against the holy spirit, as 10:26 shows.
In order to stick to our illustration, Jesus paid 10,000 dollars for the inherited sin of such a person. But sinning willfully represents a dept of 6,000 dollars, and no one can pay this dept—as 10:26 says, “there is no longer any sacrifice for his sins left.” The person first accepted the ransom sacrifice, but later he or she rejected this sacrifice — he or she has trampled on the Son of God and regarded his blood of ordinary value (10:29).
. A detailed discussion of Hebrews 6:4-6 and 10:26-31 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.”
ALL WHO ARE BOUGHT BY JESUS WILL GET A CHANCE TO ACCEPT OR REJECT THE RANSOM SACRIFICE
The lexicon Aid to Bible Understanding, page 1373, says: “Though available to all, Christ’s ransom sacrifice is not accepted by all.” These words are true, and they imply that each person who is bought by Jesus must get a personal chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. Revelation chapter 20 describes the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus which is Judgment Day, and 20:13 says that the dead “were judged individually according to their deeds.” The adjective ekastos that is translated by the word “individually,” has the meaning “each (one), every (one) separately,” according to Mounce. This means that Jesus does not judge the resurrected ones as a group. But each one is a valuable individual that was bought by Jesus, and each one will be treated according to what he is and does.
It is clear that Jehovah looks at individuals who are living today and who lived in the past in a similar way. He does not treat humans in a collective way, judging them as a group. And the concept of “community responsibility” as a basis for judgment is a false concept that is not based on the Bible.
. A discussion of “community responsibility” is found in the article “Manslaughter” in the category “The eleven disfellowshipping offenses.”
But he treats each one individually according to what he is and does. Paul’s words in Romans 3:23-26 show that:
23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and it is as a free gift that they are being declared righteous by his undeserved kindness through the release by the ransom paid by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as an offering for propitiation through faith in his blood. This was to demonstrate his own righteousness, because God in his forbearance was forgiving the sins that occurred in the past. 26 This was to demonstrate his own righteousness in this present season, so that he might be righteous even when declaring righteous the man who has faith in Jesus.
The important point that Paul is stressing is not that the application of the ransom sacrifice only is based on God’s undeserved kindness, but that it is a demonstration of his righteousness. He himself must be righteous when he applies the ransom sacrifice. Below I bring three quotations where righteousness is connected with Judgment Day and everlasting life: Acts 17:31 (above), Romans 5:21 (middle), and 2 Peter 3:13 below:
Because he has set a day on which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has provided a guarantee to all men by resurrecting him from the dead.”
To what end? So that just as sin ruled as king with death, so also undeserved kindness might rule as king through righteousness leading to everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.
I have already quoted Romans 3:23-26 where Paul says that God will be righteous when he applies the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In Acts 17:31, Paul says that Jesus on Judgment Day will judge “the inhabited earth” in righteousness, and in Romans 5:21 he connects undeserved kindness and righteousness with everlasting life. Peter agrees with Paul when he says that righteousness will dwell in the new heavens and a new earth.
How can righteousness be connected with the ransom sacrifice and everlasting life? Let us look at the words of Jesus in John 3:14-18:
14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone believing in him may have everlasting life. 16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.17 For God did not send his Son into the world for him to judge the world, but for the world to be saved through him. 18 Whoever exercises faith in him is not to be judged. Whoever does not exercise faith has been judged already, because he has not exercised faith in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.
One important question is the meaning of the word kosmos. This word can have different references: the whole human family, the humans outside the Christian congregation, the environment in which humans live, and adornment. In this context, “world” must refer to all humans living and to all dead humans, the whole human race coming from Adam.
But if Jesus was sent by God to save the whole human race, how can he say that only those who believe in him will be saved? The answer is that salvation has to do with time and opportunity. If we do not understand the context, we will not understand the words of Jesus. Jesus preached about the Kingdom of the heavens, and he sent out his followers to preach about this Kingdom as well. The purpose of this was to find persons who would be a part of the 144,000 who will reign as kings in heaven. This means that those who believed in Jesus would be called by God to inherit the heavenly Kingdom.
Would all those who at that time did not believe in Jesus be eternally annihilated, as some would interpret the words of John 3:16? The answer is no because Jesus should save the world (all of Adam’s descendants). We have the words of Jesus for this, as we see in Matthew 12:41, 42:
41 Men of Nin’e·veh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it, because they repented at what Jo’nah preached. But look! something more than Jo’nah is here. 42 The queen of the south will be raised up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Sol’o·mon. But look! something more than Sol’o·mon is here.
The words “the judgment” refers to Judgment Day. The words “rise up” and “be raised up” refer to a literal resurrection on Judgment Day. Who will rise up? The inhabitants of Nineveh, the queen of the south, and the inhabitants of “this generation.” In 12:39 “this generation” is called “this wicked and adulterous generation.” The inhabitants of chorazin, Kapernaum, and Bethsaida were a part of “this wicked and adulterous generation.” They had heard the preaching of Jesus and had seen his miracles, but they did not believe in him. Nevertheless, these persons belong the “the world” that Jesus came to save, and therefore they will get a resurrection on Judgment Day, as we read in Matthew 11:20-24.
Will the requirement mentioned in John 3:16 that one has to believe in Jesus in order to get everlasting life, not be valid for the mentioned persons? No, this is an absolute requirement that is valid for all the human descendants of Adam. But as I mentioned earlier, this requirement depends on time and opportunity. In the first century, many people had the time and opportunity to believe in Jesus, and because they did that, they would in time rule with him from heaven.
From a human point of view, a great number of other people had the time and opportunity in the first century to believe in Jesus, but they did not make use of this opportunity. But from God’s point of view, they did not have the full opportunity, which means that their inherited sin prevented them from believing in Jesus. Because of this, they will get a resurrection on the Judgment Day of 1,000 years. Then they will have this full opportunity when Satan is bound, and the inherited sin will gradually be removed.
What I have described above is the application of righteousness to the full — all humans that are bought by Jesus will get a personal chance to choose everlasting life! But let us look at the situation of other people. Below I quote Romans 5.6 (above) and 8:32 (below):
6 For, indeed, while we were still weak, Christ died for ungodly men at the appointed time. 7 For hardly would anyone die for a righteous man; though perhaps for a good man someone may dare to die. 8 But God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
32 Since he did not even spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, will he not also, along with him, kindly give us all other things?
Paul’s words show that Jesus died for ungodly men, for sinners, and that he died for “us all.” We remember that Peter in 2 Peter 2:1, 2 even says that Jesus bought the false prophets who would bring in destructive sects. So, Jesus bought all the descendants of Adam, and he said in John 3:16, 17, that God loved the world (all Adam’s descendants) so much that he sent his Son to save the world. In Matthew 18:10-14 Jesus shows the scope of God’s love for the world:
10 See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my Father who is in heaven. 11 ——12 “What do you think? If a man has 100 sheep and one of them strays, will he not leave the 99 on the mountains and set out on a search for the one that is straying? 13 And if he finds it, I certainly tell you, he rejoices more over it than over the 99 that have not strayed. 14 Likewise, it is not a desirable thing to my Father who is in heaven for even one of these little ones to perish.
Jesus speaks about a person who has strayed from God’s truth, and his words show that God cares for this person and does not want anyone to perish. Jehovah is not only interested in persons who have strayed from the truth. But Peter shows that he wants all people in the world to gain salvation. We read in 2 Peter 3:9:
Jehovah is not slow concerning his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire anyone to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.
On the basis of the two quotations above, we can better understand why “the wicked and adulterous generation” in the days of Jesus will get a resurrection. And we also understand the truth in the words of The Watchtower of March 15, 1965, pages 178, 179, that “the vast majority of dead mankind” will get a resurrection on Judgment Day and get their chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice.
Righteousness is applied in the following way in connection with the ransom sacrifice:
The death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus and the presentation of the value of his blood before Jehovah is a corresponding ransom, with exactly the same value as that which was redeemed. Thus, the ransom sacrifice is based on a righteous foundation.
The descendants of Adam have no responsibility for their inherited sin. When each one now has been bought by Jesus, each one must have an individual chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. This is the requirement of righteousness. Therefore, no individual of Adam’s descendants can be eternally annihilated before he or she has had this chance to the full.
Table 1.1 The dollar illustration
|1) Inherited sin incurs a debt of 10,000 dollars for each descendant of Adam.
2) Jesus paid 10,000 dollars for each descendant of Adam with his ransom sacrifice. This includes the Jews, those with a heavenly hope, and those who sin against the holy spirit.
3) The Jews had an extra debt of 3,000 dollars because they were under the curse of the law. Jesus paid 3,000 dollars for each Jew by hanging on the stake, and by this taking their curse on him.
4) The payment of 10,000 dollars for those with a heavenly hope gave them the right to live forever on the earth, but not the right to come to heaven with the price of 20,000 dollars. By declaring these persons righteous and baptizing them with holy spirit, Jehovah paid 10,000 dollars for each of them. Now 20,000 dollars was paid and they had the right to receive a heavenly resurrection.
5) Those who sinned against the holy spirit incurred a debt of 6,000 dollars. While their debt of their inherited sin of 10,000 dollars is paid by Jesus, no one will pay their debt of 6,000 dollars. Therefore, they will not get a resurrection and everlasting life.
Making the ransom sacrifice available for all the descendants of Adam, required four steps, 1) the death of Jesus, 2) the resurrection of Jesus, 3) the ascension to heaven of Jesus, and 4) the presentation of the value of his blood before Jehovah.
On the day of atonement in Israel, the high priest went through the curtain and into the most holy of the Tabernacle with animal blood. The antitypical high priest, Jesus Christ, in a similar way went to heaven and presented the value of his spilled blood for Jehovah.
Adam had sold his unborn offspring under sin, and Jesus Christ bought back what Adam lost. This means that all Adam’s descendants who have inherited sin, will get a chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. This will happen for some in this old system of thing and for others after their resurrection on Judgment Day.
Because most people have not had the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice, the vast majority of dead mankind will get a resurrection on Judgment Day. Only those who have sinned against the holy spirit will not get a resurrection.
It is interesting to see that the Bible students in the 1870s had an understanding of the ransom sacrifice that is close to what is presented in this study. Of particular interest is their view that Jesus bought all the descendants of Adam by his death and that all these, except those who had committed the unforgivable sin, will be resurrected in the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus with the possibility of getting everlasting life. The Divine Plan of the Ages, Studies in the Scriptures, Volume I, 1886, page 218, says:
Let the actual benefits and results of the ransom be clearly seen, and all objections to its being of universal application must vanish. The “ransom for all” given by “the man Christ Jesus” does not give or guarantee everlasting life or blessing to any man; but it does guarantee to every man another opportunity or trial for life everlasting. The first trial of man, which resulted in the loss of the blessings at first conferred, is really turned into a blessing of experience to the loyal-hearted, by reason of the ransom which God has provided.
But the fact that men are ransomed from the first penalty does not guarantee that they may not, when individually tried for everlasting life, fail to render the obedience without which none will be permitted to live everlastingly. Man, by reason of present experience with sin and its bitter penalty, will be fully forewarned; and when, as a result of the ransom, he is granted another, an individual trial, under the eye and control of him who so loved him as to give his life for him, and who would not that any should perish, but that all should turn to God and live, we may be sure that only the wilfully disobedient will receive the penalty of the second trial. That penalty will be the second death, from which there will be no ransom, no release, because there would be no object for another ransom or a further trial. All will have fully seen and tasted both good and evil; all will have witnessed and experienced the goodness and love of God; all will have had a full, fair, individual trial for life, under most favorable conditions. More could not be asked, and more will not be given. That trial will decide forever who would be righteous and holy under a thousand trials; and it will determine also who would be unjust, and unholy and filthy still, under a thousand trials. (he author’s italics)