There has been a debate over what the Good News really is. This is no trivial matter because Paul says that if we don’t preach the right “good news” we will be cursed. (Galatians 1:8)
Are Jehovah’s Witnesses preaching the real good news? We can’t answer that unless we first can establish precisely what the good news is.
I have been looking for a way to define it when today in my daily Bible reading, I stumbled across Romans 1:16. (Isn’t it great when you find a definition of a Bible term right in the Bible itself, such as that given by Paul about “faith” at Hebrews 11:1?)
“For I am not ashamed of the good news; it is, in fact, God’s power for salvation to everyone having faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Ro 1:16)
Is this the good news that Jehovah’s Witnesses preach? Salvation is tied up in it, certainly, but it gets shoved off to one side in my experience. The good news that Jehovah’s Witnesses preach is all about the kingdom. The phrase, “good news of the kingdom”, occurs 2084 times in The Watchtower from 1950 to 2013. It occurs 237 times in Awake! during the same period and 235 times in our Yearbooks reporting on our worldwide preaching work. This focus on the kingdom ties in with another teaching: that the kingdom was established in 1914. This teaching is the basis for the authority which the Governing Body confers upon itself, so it is understandable from that perspective that overmuch emphasis is put on the kingdom aspect of the good news. However, is that a Scriptural viewpoint?
In the 130+ times the phrase “good news” appears in the Christian Scriptures, only 10 are linked with the word “kingdom”.
Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses emphasize “kingdom” over everything else when the Bible doesn’t? Is it wrong to emphasize the kingdom? Isn’t the kingdom the means by which salvation is achieved?
To answer, let us consider that Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that what matters—pretty much all that matters—is the sanctification of God’s name and the vindication of his sovereignty. The salvation of mankind is more of a happy side effect. (In a recent Bible Study at the Kingdom hall one got the impression that we should just be grateful that Jehovah took account of us at all while he was out seeking his own vindication. Such a position, while trying to honor God, actually brings dishonor to him.)
Yes, the sanctification of God’s name and vindication of His sovereignty are vastly more important that the life of little old you or me. We get that. But JWs seem to ignore the fact that His name was sanctified and His sovereignty was vindicated 2,000 years ago. Nothing we can do can come close to topping that. Jesus gave the final answer to Satan’s challenge. After that, Satan was judged and cast down. There was no more room for him in heaven, no more reason to tolerate his calumny.
Time for us to move on.
When Jesus began his preaching, his message didn’t focus on the message which JWs preach from door to door. That part of his mission was up to him and him alone. For us there was good news, but of something else. Good news of salvation! Of course, you cannot preach salvation without also sanctifying Jehovah’s name and vindicating his sovereignty.
But what of the kingdom? Certainly, the kingdom is part of the means for the salvation of mankind, but to focus on that would be like a parent telling his children that for their vacation they are going to take a custom rented bus to Disney World. Then for months before the vacation he keeps raving about the bus. The bus! The Bus! THE BUS! Yea for the bus! His emphasis is even more skewed when the family learns that some members are getting to Disney World by plane.
God’s children are saved not by the kingdom, but by faith in Jesus Christ. By means of that faith, they become the kingdom. (Re 1:5) For them the good news of the kingdom is the hope of forming part of that kingdom, not of being saved by it. The good news is about their personal salvation. The good news is not something we enjoy vicariously. it is for each and every one of us.
For the world at large it is also good news. All can be saved and have everlasting life and the kingdom plays a large role in that, but ultimately, it is faith in Jesus that provides the means for him to grant life to repentant individuals.
It is for God to decide which reward each one gets. For us to preach a message of predetermined salvation, some to heaven, some to earth is unquestionably a perversion of the Good News Paul defined and preached.
Most interesting Meleti, and thanks for your continuous efforts. It is a very interesting topic. I looked up the term GOOD NEWS in NET bible and it gave me 108 results. SOmetimes it was just good news, like John was proclaiming (Luke 3:18). But indeed, very often it is called the Good news of the Kingdom of God. 4 times I could find this exact phrase. 2 were interesting: Luk 16:16 “The law and the prophets were in force until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is urged to enter… Read more »
Your question at the outline can be answered very simply with the following scriptures, in addition to the fine outline you presented. 1. What was the good news that Paul and other true disciples of Christ preached? 1Corinthians 15 15 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ… Read more »
INOG, I don’t want to get sidetracked, but I was researching the scripture you quoted from 1 Cor 15:3 and then I looked it up in my translation as well (NIV) where it reads, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” And according to “as of first importance” from the Greek it should be rendered, “among the first things.” If that is the case, then the scripture wouldn’t change the priority of the future Kingdom and so that would make it clear that it’s… Read more »
What an insightful comment, InNeedOfGrace. So obvious, yet so many of us have missed it. To quote you: “What then, would they have to preach before? If the good news is the Kingdom, which was established in 1914? Did Paul have to preach that in 1800 years there would be a good news?”
Seriously, how did we all miss such a glaring inconsistency. Again, thank you.
Hi Meleti, 🙂 It might have been missed but it WAS admitted in 1993 that the good news being preached since 1925 was different than the good news preached by first-century Christians. (jv p.137-139)
A good reference to keep in mind. Thanks, Grace.
Amen Meleti it is a GLARING iinconsistency !
Thank you INOG for this little jewel!!:)
As meleti put it, the kingdom is a vehicle for the good news.
But Christ’s death is also.
His resurrection is also.
The Good news of the kingdom is indeed the Good news of Christ.
As Inog put it, Paul did not wait 1800 years to declare the Good News of the Kingdom, the Good news that Christ died so that we may live by faith and become part of him.
Yes the Kingdom is the vehicle and Jesus is the driver/chauffeur/doorkeeper 🙂
Or is it that the Kingdom is the destiny and Jesus is the Way to get there??
Yes, how thoughtless of me, menrov! I mindlessly quoted Alex Rover’s words that “the kingdom is a vehicle for the good news” but then, whatever enterprise our minds conjure should get the point! 🙂 Did not Jesus reprove Nicodemus when he asked, “Are you a teacher of Israel and yet do not know these things? Most truly I say to you, what we know we speak, and what we have seen we bear witness to, but you do not receive the witness we give. If I have told you earthly things and you still do not believe, how will you… Read more »
Thanks meleti good point. I like 1 timothy 2 v 4 to 7 gods will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth . For there is one god and one mediator beetween god and men a man christ jesus who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all .and heres the point. ………this is what is to be witnessed to at its own particular times for the purpose of this witness i was appointed a preacher and apostle . Theres the good news and thats should be on every christians lips… Read more »
Meleti im so sorry this comment may not have much to do with this article. But i actually met one of the other brothers today who contributes to this site . By random chance or some would say . If it was its millions to one . Im stunned . Meleti please carry on the real good news that is being published on this site im sure the holy spirit is behind us. Kev.
What an interesting coincidence. Thanks for your support.
Good post Meleti. This rewiring of our thinking is so refreshing because it highlights the simplicity of the Bible message…..how could it be anything but simple and complete! Every time we see the words “Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, JW Org” we are being presented with a distraction. If we attend we will indeed be taught about Jehovah, the Kingdom and “earthly organisation, to the detriment of the teaching of Jesus and the Good News. If a scripturally accurate label was to be used, then it should be called a ” Good News about Jesus Christ Hall “, but that… Read more »
Thanks Meleti, Interesting topic. In fact we JW’s are so tied to the Kingdom as we see it—so brash as are to say our organization is inseparable to that Kingdom; so integral to wheels within wheels of Ezekiel’s envisioned chariot—that only we of the entire earth are exclusively favoured by the Kingdom. So lest we forget, let us not think the Kingdom is a lessor dogma of our religion. In fact, this dogma is so powerful that those accepting it, who have built their faith around it, can mentally exterminate any fellow JW for merely questioning the structure we have… Read more »
It’s interesting how Paul begins Romans, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 1:1-4 So the gospel (good news) is the gospel of God – the gospel of the kingdom. Therefore the foundation of the… Read more »