It is interesting how commonplace Scriptures you’ve read dozens of times take on new meaning once you abandon some long-held prejudices. For example, take this from this week’s Bible reading assignment:
(Acts 2:38, 39) .?.?.Peter [said] to them: “Repent, and let each one of YOU be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of YOUR sins, and YOU will receive the free gift of the holy spirit. 39?For the promise is to YOU and to YOUR children and to all those afar off, just as many as Jehovah our God may call to him.”
Getting baptized in the name of Jesus would enable them to receive the free gift of the holy spirit. These individuals were about to become part of the anointed ones, the children of God, those with the heavenly hope. Not only does this coincide with what is plainly stated in Scripture–which is of greatest importance–but it also coincides with what we teach officially in our publications–granted, of lessor importance.
Now consider again these words from verse 39: “For the promise is to YOU and to YOUR children and to all those afar off, just as many as Jehovah our God may call to him.”
Does that phrase allow for a small, finite number like 144,000? “To YOU, YOUR children…” and presumably YOUR children’s children, and on and on. “As many as Jehovah…may call”?! Doesn’t make sense that Peter would say that under inspiration if Jehovah was only going to call 144,000, does it?
Acts 2:39?”For the promise is to YOU and to YOUR children and to all those afar off” Is this not a refrain of Exodus 19: 3 And Moses went up to the [true] God, and Jehovah began to call to him out of the mountain, saying: “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and to tell the sons of Israel, 4 ‘YOU? yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, that I might carry ?YOU? on wings of eagles and bring ?YOU? to myself. 5 And now if ?YOU? will strictly obey my voice… Read more »
Interesting question, Urbanus. I’d like to hear what others think. Is it over-thinking to understand that “just as many as Jehovah…may call” refers to an undetermined quantity. Or would it be over-thinking the words of the text to assume that a phrase like “just as many” refers to a finite, predetermined number?
Its difficult not to read entrenched ideas into the text of scripture.The Watchtower has developed the idea of a two class system of belief, which came about through the sincere but wrong understanding that Christ had arrived in 1914 and the Great Tribulation was underway. They applied scriptures to that time which where not yet to be fullfilled. They taught that the call to Christians had ended.That all new converts where not Christians but a Johonadab class, which were to be, the Great Multitude or crowd that would come out of the tribulation.These were not included in the new covenant… Read more »
Thank you, Mark. It is most helpful to have all those Scriptures grouped to reveal a common theme. It becomes ever more clear that the two-tier system is an invention of men.
Hi.. I am new to commenting in this forum. I read it all the time and enjoy the comments. However many thoughts just don’t fit in well with the scriptures’ As an example… Acts 2:39 ( “all those afar off”) is referring to the gentiles. How can we know this from the scriptures. (Ephesians 2:13-17) But now in union with Christ Jesus YOU who were once far off have come to be near by the blood of the Christ. 14 For he is our peace, he who made the two parties one and destroyed the wall in between that fenced… Read more »
Hi Silas, “all those afar off” is NOT referring to the gentiles. When Peter uttered those words, he was addressing the JEWS and PROSELYTES, not the Gentiles. In fact, Gentiles were received into the Christian congregation much later, and this event was a surprise for the newly converted Jews. So, Peter could not have had Gentiles in mind when he spoke to the Jews in Acts 2. And, indeed, the promise was for “all those [Jews] afar off”, to as many as God would call to join Jesus’ bride. We do not know whom God calls but apparently few Jews… Read more »
“Why first to the Jews”, you ask? Simply because the promise was made to the Jews first, through Moses. All the Scriptures that establish that the opportunity was first to the Jews do so on the merit of their having been chosen first as God’s holy people, not because there are allegedly a limited number of crowns set aside for Jewish heads. Such an idea finds no support anywhere in Scripture. Rev. 3:11 does not prove that there are a fixed number of slots in heaven for crowned ones. By your line of reasoning we are being warned to not… Read more »
“For there are MANY invited, but FEW chosen”. Mat 22:14. This very qualification, the CHOSEN ONES, is indicative of a limited number. No matter how one wishes to interpret Scriptures, the fact remains that a limited number (144000) is seen ruling with Christ in heaven on Mount Zion (Rev 14). I think the rest is speculation from the very ones who accuse the Society of speculation.
Contrasting “many” with “few” does not imply a finite number. If it did, then the many would also be a finite number. The fact is, all whom we preach to are invited, but only a few respond, and few still stay the course. It is true that those who rule in heaven will be few by comparison with those who live on earth. However, whether the number in heaven is predetermined or not, remains to be seen. As for speculation, I fully agree. We do engage in speculation on this site and privately. It is how we learn. However, I… Read more »
Matt 7 13-14 Enter through the narrow gate.For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter throught it.But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and a few find it.
I think this passage of scripture is used in watchtower publications to apply to both the 144000 and other sheep.
It is indeed. An excellent point.
It is a mark of spiritual progress when you can start to abandon long held dogmatic positions on scripture. The fact of the matter is the bible is fairly unclear on quite a number of “doctrinal” issues. What it is very clear on is ethics and morality. For example, there is no question on how we should treat other people. There is no question on how the bible views honesty, love, etc. Jesus said the 2 greatest commandments were love of God and love of neighbor. The Society (along with many other fundamentalist religions) has tried to make certain debatable… Read more »
I came to the conclusion that the anointing wasn’t strictly for a certain group but all of Jesus followers, after reading these scriptures, because how would it include their children.
“Just as many as Jehovah our God may call to him“ sounds like a deliberately indefinite number. True, it could be argued that Peter didn’t know what was going to be revealed later to John. But it seems odd that he would, under inspiration, use a phrase that gives an impression 180 degrees away from a relatively small, predetermined number.
Here are a few things that I think are clearly established: 1. There will be eternal life for humans on Earth. I base that on scriptures like those in Psalm 37, Proverbs 2, Matthew 5 and Revelation 5, among others. 2. There will be those who serve as kings and priests for those on Earth. I base this on Jesus’ words to the apostles about a covenant for a kingdom and Revelation 5. Whether those who serve as kings and priests do so from heaven does not particularly concern me. Neither, for that matter, does their exact number. However, it… Read more »
Would you mind expanding that point about concluding “that some of the kings and priests will be people who never knew Jehovah during their pre-resurrection life-time”? I might have a thought on that, but I’m not certain that I’ve correctly understood what you mean. Perhaps it’s the preceding clause that I’m not following i.e. if there will be representatives from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Is that taken from scripture, or from the ideas that have been proposed as interpretation from scripture?
Well, I was referring to Revelation 5: 9 And they sing a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because you were slaughtered and with your blood you bought persons for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10?and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.” Now, it could be I’ve missed something here, but it seems like a fairly straight-forward declaration that some will rule as kings and priests over the people of… Read more »
Yes, now I appreciate your point. I was looking at “all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues” in Rev 7:9, and checking the x-refs to see, and of course there is no x-ref to Rev 5:9 (surprise, surprise). Now that I know what you mean my previous thought is a moot point, since you are quoting scripture not an interpretation of Rev 7. However, it is interesting that the word translated “every” (Gr. pas) is the same as “all” in Col 1:23. So it would seem that the term is not as encompassing or complete as we would treat… Read more »
Taking another look at this, I suppose that Jehovah can teach people about himself any way he wants, whenever he wants. The assumption that aborigines and Native Americans, for example, never had a chance to learn about God because they didn’t have access to the Bible, is just an assumption after all.
I suppose, also, that the people bought out of “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” could simply be all faithful servants of God, destined to rule over the resurrected masses, but that would make the “government” rather large.
Another aspect of this may be that we are coloring our perception of their role based on our current understanding of what government is and how it functions. We really don’t know how they will perform the role of king or priest. We understand that their function will be to restore all things to the state they were in when Adam and Eve were perfect and “God was all things to everyone.” Perhaps their role will be to serve as the spiritual equivalent of congregation shepherds, but without all the failings that plague our current arrangement. As such, they would… Read more »