When one of Jehovah’s Witnesses goes out knocking on doors, he brings a message of hope: the hope of eternal life on earth. In our theology, there are only 144,000 spots in heaven, and they are all but taken. Therefore, the chance that someone we might preach to will get baptized and then be chosen by God to occupy one of the remaining heavenly vacancies is about as likely as winning the lottery. For this reason, all our efforts are directed toward making known the hope for life in an earthly paradise.
It is our belief – indeed, the official teaching of our Organization – that should someone who rejects our message die, he will return in the resurrection of the unrighteous. (Acts 24:15) In this way, we show that Jehovah is fair and just, for who knows but that the individual might have taken a stand for righteousness had he only lived a little longer.
However, this all changes when Armageddon arrives. We believe that sheep-like ones accept the hope and join our organization. The goats are outside and they die at Armageddon, going into everlasting cutting off. (Mt 25:31-46)
Of all our beliefs, this one bothers us the most. We hold Jehovah to be fair, just, and loving. He would never condemn someone to the second death without first giving him fair warning; a chance to change his course. Yet, we are charged with giving the nations that chance through our preaching and we simply can’t do it. We have been saddled with an impossible task; denied the tools to fully accomplish our ministry. Are we to be held accountable for failing to reach everyone adequately? Or is a greater work ahead? To alleviate our troubled conscience, many hope for some such miraculous change to our preaching work near the end.
This is a real conundrum, you see? Either Jehovah doesn’t treat everyone equally, or we are wrong about the hope we preach. If we are preaching a hope to survive Armageddon and live in a paradise earth, then those who do not accept the hope cannot get the reward. They must die. Otherwise, our preaching is redundant – a bad joke.
Or perhaps…just perhaps…our whole premise is wrong.
Undoubtedly, Armageddon is a necessary mechanism for cleansing the earth of wickedness. One could hardly expect to achieve a new world of righteousness, peace, and security without first removing all elements that would undermine it. In our current wicked system of things, millions of lives are aborted yearly. Millions more die annually in infancy due to disease and widespread malnutrition. Then there are the millions who reach adulthood only to live in squalor all their lives, eking out an existence so meager most of us in the West would rather die than have to face it.
In the developed world, we are like the Romans of Jesus’ day, comfortable in our wealth, secure in our overwhelming military might, taking for granted the privileged life we lead. Yet we too have our poor, our suffering masses. We are not free of disease, pain, violence, insecurity and depression. Even if we are among the privileged few who escape all these maladies, we still grow old, decrepit and eventually die. So if our already short lives are shortened even further by God’s Great War, what of it? One way or the other, everybody dies. All is vanity. (Ps 90:10; Ec 2:17)
However, the hope of the resurrection changes all that. With the resurrection, life does not end. It is merely interrupted – like a night’s sleep interrupts your daily routine. Do you notice the hours you spend asleep? Do you even regret them? Of course not.
Think back to Sodom and Lot’s sons-in-law. They were destroyed along with the rest of the city’s inhabitants when fire rained down from heaven. Yes, they died…many centuries ago. Yet from their point of view, their life will be one unbroken string of consciousness. Subjectively, the gap will be nonexistent. There is no injustice in this. No one can point a finger at God and cry, “Foul!”
So why, you might ask, would the JW belief in Armageddon cause us any disquiet? Why can’t Jehovah simply resurrect those killed at Armageddon like he’s going to do with the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah? (Mt 11:23, 24; Lu 17:28, 29)
If Jehovah resurrects people that he kills at Armageddon, he invalidates our preaching work. We preach an earthly hope.
Here, in a nutshell, is our official position:
We have been pulled from the dangerous “waters” of this wicked world into the “lifeboat” of Jehovah’s earthly organization. Within it, we serve side by side as we head for the “shores” of a righteous new world. (w97 1/15 p. 22 par. 24 What Does God Require of Us?)
Just as Noah and his God-fearing family were preserved in the ark, survival of individuals today depends on their faith and their loyal association with the earthly part of Jehovah’s universal organization. (w06 5/15 p. 22 par. 8 Are You Prepared for Survival?)
Resurrecting those killed at Armageddon means giving them the same reward as that granted to those in the ark-like organization of Armageddon survivors. It cannot be, so we teach that it isn’t so and preach a message that requires conversion for salvation.
So why the difference between Armageddon and Sodom and Gomorrah? Simply put, those in Sodom and Gomorrah did not get preached to, and therefore were not given an opportunity to change. That does not satisfy God’s justice and impartiality. (Acts 10:34) That is no longer the case, we argue. We are fulfilling Matthew 24:14.
Until then, the anointed will take the lead in something that is well-documented by our annual service report—the greatest preaching and teaching work in human history. (w11 8/15 p. 22 Questions From Readers [boldface added])
If you wonder at the apparent effrontery of such a grandiose claim given that the preaching work started by Jesus has resulted in over two billion people claiming to be Christian compared with the paltry eight million Jehovah’s Witnesses, please understand that we don’t count those billions. We believe that true Christianity died out in the second century to be replaced by apostate Christianity. Since there are only 144,000 anointed Christians in all, and since the gathering of the other sheep with an earthly hope only began in the 20th century, the eight million that have joined our ranks in the past hundred years are the true Christians gathered in from all that nations. This in our view is an outstanding accomplishment.
Be this as it may, let us not get sidetracked into a debate about whether this is an accurate interpretation of events or merely an indication of communal hubris. The matter at hand is that this belief has forced us to the conclusion that all who die at Armageddon can have no resurrection hope. Exactly why is that? It can best be explained by slightly modifying an illustration I heard once at a public talk in the Kingdom Hall:
Let’s say there is a volcanic island which is about to explode. Like Krakatoa, this island will be obliterated and all life on it, destroyed. Scientists from an advanced country go to the island to warn the primitive natives about the impending disaster. The locals have no idea of the destruction about to befall them. The mountain is rumbling, but this has happened before. They are not worried. They comfortable with their lifestyle and do not want to leave. Besides, they don’t really know these strangers talking crackpot ideas of doom and gloom. They have their own government and are not enamored by the idea of having to conform to a new way of life under different rules in their soon-to-be new country. Thus, only a small number respond to the warning and take the offered escape. Shortly after the last plane leaves, the island explodes killing all those who stayed behind. They were given a hope, a chance for survival. They chose not to take it. Therefore, the fault is theirs.
This is the reasoning behind the theology of Jehovah’s Witnesses regarding Armageddon. We are told that we are in a life-saving work. In fact, if we do not engage in it, we ourselves will become blood-guilty and will die at Armageddon. This idea is reinforced by likening our time to that of Ezekiel.
“Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman to the house of Israel; and when you hear a word from my mouth, you must warn them from me. 18 When I say to someone wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ but you do not warn him, and you fail to speak in order to warn the wicked one to turn from his wicked course so that he may stay alive, he will die for his error because he is wicked, but I will ask his blood back from you. 19 But if you warn someone wicked and he does not turn back from his wickedness and from his wicked course, he will die for his error, but you will certainly save your own life.” (Eze 3:17-19)
A critically minded observer—one familiar with the full body of our doctrines—will note that everyone back then who died for not listening to Ezekiel’s warning will still be resurrected.[i] (Acts 24:15) So the comparison with our pre-Armageddon work doesn’t quite fit. Nevertheless, this fact escapes the notice of virtually all my JW brethren. Thus, we go door to door motivated by love for our fellow man, hoping to save some from the exploding volcano which is the impending war of Armageddon.
Yet, in the dark recesses of our mind we realize that the comparison just made with the natives living on the volcanic island doesn’t quite fit either. All those natives were forewarned. This is simply not the case with our preaching work. There are millions in Muslim lands who have never been preached to. There are millions more living in slavery of one form or another. Even in lands where there is relative freedom, there are multitudes of abused individuals whose upbringing has been so deplorable as to render them emotionally dysfunctional. Others have been so betrayed and abused by their own religious leaders that there is little hope of them ever trusting another. Given all this, how can we have the effrontery to suggest that our brief door-to-door visits and literature cart displays constitute a fair and appropriate life-saving opportunity for the peoples of earth. Truly, what hubris!
We try to reason our way out of this contradiction by speaking of community responsibility, but our innate sense of justice just won’t have it. We are, even in our sinful state, made in God’s image. A sense of fairness is part of our DNA; it is built into our God-given conscience, and even the youngest of children recognize when something “just isn’t fair”.
In fact, our teaching as Jehovah’s Witnesses is not only inconsistent with our knowledge of the character (name) of God, but also with evidence revealed in the Bible. One outstanding example is that of Saul of Tarsus. As a Pharisee, he was well aware of Jesus’ ministry and his miraculous works. He was also highly educated and well informed. Yet, it took a miraculous apparition of blinding light along with a loving rebuke by our Lord Jesus to correct his wayward course. Why would Jesus make such an effort to save him, but pass over some poor pre-adolescent girl in India sold into slavery by her parents for the bride-price they could obtain? Why would he save Saul the persecutor, but bypass some poor street urchin in Brazil who spends his life scrounging for food and hiding from neighborhood thugs? The Bible even acknowledges that one’s station in life can impede one’s relationship with God.
“Give me neither poverty nor riches. Just let me consume my portion of food, 9 So that I do not become satisfied and deny you and say, “Who is Jehovah?” Nor let me become poor and steal and dishonor the name of my God.” (Pr 30:8, 9)
In Jehovah’s eyes, are some humans simply not worth the effort? Perish the thought! Yet that is the conclusion to which our JW doctrine leads us.
I Still Don`t Get It!
Perhaps you still don’t get it. Perhaps you still can’t see why Jehovah can’t spare some at Armageddon, or failing that, resurrect everyone in his own good time and way during the 1000 years of Christ’s future reign.
To understand why this won’t work based on our teaching of a dual-hope salvation, consider that those who survive Armageddon – those in the Ark-like organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses – do not get eternal life. What they get is a chance at it. They survive but must continue in their sinful state working toward perfection over the course of the thousand years. If they fail to do that, they will still die.
Our belief is that faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses who have died prior to Armageddon will be resurrected as part of the resurrection of the righteous. These ones are declared righteous as God’s friends, but that is all the declaration amounts to. They continue in their sinful state progressing toward perfection at the end of the thousand years together with the Armageddon survivors.
Those chosen by God for heavenly life must, even now, be declared righteous; perfect human life is imputed to them. (Romans 8:1) This is not necessary now for those who may live forever on earth. But such ones can now be declared righteous as friends of God, as was faithful Abraham. (James 2:21-23; Romans 4:1-4) After such ones achieve actual human perfection at the end of the Millennium and then pass the final test, they will be in position to be declared righteous for everlasting human life. (From w85 12/15 p. 30)
Those who return in the resurrection of the unrighteous will also come back as sinful humans, and they too will have to work toward perfection at the end of the thousand years.
Think of it! Under Jesus’ loving attention, the entire human family—Armageddon survivors, their offspring, and the thousands of millions of resurrected dead who obey him—will grow toward human perfection. (w91 6/1 p. 8 [Boldface added])
Does this not seem silly? What real difference is there between those who accepted the hope and made huge sacrifices in their lives and those who ignored God?
“And YOU people will again certainly see [the distinction] between a righteous one and a wicked one, between one serving God and one who has not served him.”” (Mal 3:18)
indeed, where is the distinction?
This is bad enough, but somehow we have come to accept this as part of our theology; likely because as human beings we really don’t want anybody to die – especially dead “unbelieving” parents and siblings. But it would be too much to apply the same logic to those were destroyed at Armageddon. It would be as if the inhabitants of that condemned island who chose not to get on the planes and fly away to safety were somehow miraculously teleported to the new country anyway; escaping despite their refusal to accept the hope extended. If that were the case, why even bother going to the island in the first place? Why trouble yourself with the time, expense and burden of trying to convince a resistant population if their salvation never depended on your efforts at all?
We are faced with an irresolvable paradox. Either Jehovah is unfair in condemning people to death without ever giving them a real opportunity for survival, or our preaching work is an exercise in futility.
We have even made tacit acknowledgement of this incongruity in our publications.
The “unrighteous” will need more help than the “righteous.” During their lifetime they did not hear of God’s provision, or else they did not heed when the good news came to their attention. Circumstances and environment had much to do with their attitudes. Some did not even know that there is a Christ. Others were so hindered by worldly pressures and cares that the “seed” of the good news did not take permanent root in their hearts. (Matt. 13:18-22) The present system of things under the invisible influence of Satan the Devil has “blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.” (2 Cor. 4:4) It is not a ‘second chance’ for those resurrected ones. It is their first real opportunity to get eternal life on earth through faith in Jesus Christ. (w74 5/1 p. 279 A Judgment That Balances Justice with Mercy)
If the resurrection of the unrighteous is not a second chance, but the first real opportunity for those who die prior to Armageddon, how could it be any different for those poor souls who happen to have the misfortune to be alive at Armageddon? These will not be possessed of some supernatural wisdom and insight that their dead forbearers lacked, will they?
Yet our belief in an earthly hope requires this. Resurrecting those who die at Armageddon would turn the JW preaching of an earthly hope into a cruel joke. We tell people that they have to make great sacrifices for the hope of escaping death at Armageddon and living in the new world. They must give up family and friends, forgo a career, spend thousands of hours in the preaching work over a lifetime and endure the disdain and mockery of the world. But it is all worthwhile, for they get to live while the rest die. So Jehovah can’t resurrect the unrighteous he kills at Armageddon. He can’t give them the very same reward of living in the New World. Were that the case, then what are we making sacrifices for?
This is the same argument, albeit in reverse, that Paul made to the Ephesians:
“Otherwise, what will they do who are being baptized for the purpose of being dead ones? If the dead are not to be raised up at all, why are they also being baptized for the purpose of being such? 30 Why are we also in danger every hour? 31 Daily I face death. This is as sure as my exultation over you, brothers, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If like other men, I have fought with wild beasts at Ephʹe·sus, of what good is it to me? If the dead are not to be raised up, “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.”” (1Co 15:29-32)
His point is valid. If there is no resurrection, then what were first century Christians fighting for?
“For if the dead are not to be raised up…we are of all men most to be pitied.” (1Co 15:15-19)
How ironic that we should now be able to completely reverse Paul’s reasoning. Our doctrine of a final call in the last days for people to be saved from Armageddon by those with a newly revealed earthly hope requires that there be no resurrection of those who die at Armageddon. If there is, then we who give up so much in the belief that we alone will survive into the New World “are of all men most to be pitied”.
Whenever we are faced with such a contradiction arising from two mutually exclusive premises, it is time to humble ourselves and acknowledge that we got something wrong. It’s time to go back to square one.
Starting at Square One
When Jesus began his preaching work, he extended one hope for all those who would become his disciples. It was the hope of ruling with him in his Kingdom. He was looking to form a kingdom of priests who would, together with him, restore all humankind to the blessed state that Adam had prior to his rebellion. From 33 CE onward, the message that Christians preached consisted of that hope.
Watchtower disagrees with this point of view.
Jesus Christ, though, is leading meek ones into a peaceful new world, where obedient mankind will be united in the worship of Jehovah God and will press forward toward perfection. (w02 3/15 p. 7)
Nevertheless, this arbitrary statement finds no support whatsoever in Scripture.
With the hope that Jesus actually taught, there were but two outcomes: Accept the hope and win the heavenly reward, or reject the hope and miss out. If you missed out, you could not be declared righteous in this system of things and so could not be freed from sin and could not inherit the kingdom. You would continue as unrighteous and the unrighteous are resurrected as such. They will then have the opportunity to get right with God by accepting the help provided by Christ’s “Kingdom of Priests”.
For 1900 years, this was the only hope extended. The apparent delay was due to the need to collect a particular number of such ones to fill the need. (2Pe 3:8, 9; Re 6:9-11) All was well until the mid-1930s when Judge Rutherford came up with an unscriptural idea based wholly on fabricated types and antitypes that there was another hope. This secondary hope was that by becoming a member of the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a person could survive Armageddon to live in the New World, albeit still as an imperfect human, still needing redemption. In this way he differed not at all from the resurrected unrighteous other than that he got a “head start” on attaining perfection. By definition, this interpretation condemns the billions who will die at Armageddon to eternal destruction.
Resolving the Contradiction
The only way we can resolve this contradiction – the only way we can show that Jehovah is just and righteous – is to abandon our God-dishonoring doctrine of an earthly hope. It has no basis in Scripture in any case, so why do we cling to it so tenaciously? Billions will be resurrected in the New World – that is true. But this is not extended as a hope that they must accept or reject.
To illustrate this let’s return to our volcanic island, but this time we’ll make it fit the facts of history.
A loving, wise and wealthy ruler has foreseen the approaching destruction of the island. He has purchased an extensive piece of land on the continent so as to create a new country all his own. Its terrain is beautiful and varied. However, it is completely devoid of human life. He then appoints his son whom he trusts completely to go forth and save the people on the island. Knowing that most of the island’s inhabitants are incapable of understanding all the ramifications of their circumstances, the son decides that he will take them all by force to the new land. However, he cannot do so until he first sets up a supportive infrastructure; a governmental administration. Otherwise, there would be chaos and violence. He needs capable rulers, ministers, and healers. These he will take from the island’s own people since only those who have lived on that island fully understand its culture and the needs of its people. He journeys to the island and sets about gathering such ones. He has rigid standards which must be met, and only a few measure up. These, he selects, trains, and prepares. He tests them all for fitness. Then, before the volcano erupts, he takes all these ones to the new country, and sets them up. Next, he forcibly brings all inhabitants of the island to the new country, but in a way that allows all to acclimatize to their new circumstances. They are helped and guided by his chosen ones. Some reject all assistance and continue in ways that endanger the peace and security of the populace. These ones are removed. But many, freed of all the encumbrances that hindered them in their former life on the island, gladly embrace their new and better life.
When Does Armageddon Come?
The Bible does not say that Armageddon will come once everyone on earth has had an opportunity to accept or reject the hope of living forever on earth. What it does say is this:
“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those slaughtered because of the word of God and because of the witness they had given. 10 They shouted with a loud voice, saying: “Until when, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, are you refraining from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little while longer, until the number was filled of their fellow slaves and their brothers who were about to be killed as they had been.” (Re 6:9-11)
Jehovah will call an end to this old system of things when the full number of Jesus’ brothers is complete. Once his chosen ones have been removed from the scene, he will release the four winds. (Mt 24:31; Re 7:1) He may allow some to survive Armageddon. Or he make start with a clean slate, and use the resurrection of the unrighteous to progressively repopulate the earth. These are details about which we can only speculate.
It appears that some will not get a resurrection. There are those who go out of their way to make tribulation on Jesus’ brothers. There is an evil slave who abuses his brothers. There is a man of lawlessness who sits in God’s temple and plays the role of a rival God. Who these are and what their punishment turns out to be, we shall have to be patient to learn. Then there are others who had the hope of becoming Jesus’ brothers, only to fall short of the mark. These will be punished, though apparently not with the second death. (2Th 2:3,4; Lu 12:41-48)
The simple fact is that only one hope has ever been extended to Christians. The choice isn’t between that hope and the second death. If we miss out on that hope, we have the eventuality of being resurrected in the New World. Then we will be offered an earthly hope. If we take it, we will live. If we reject it, we will die. (Re 20:5, 7-9)
[i] The article “Who Will Be Resurrected?” in the May 1, 2005 The Watchtower (p. 13) revised the thinking of Jehovah’s Witnesses with regard to the resurrection of individuals killed directly by Jehovah. Korah, who knowingly opposed Jehovah’s anointed ones and who was swallowed up by the earth as a consequence of his rebellion is now considered to be among those in the memorial tombs (Sheol) who will hear the master’s voice and come forth. (John 5:28)
Hope is like an anchor for the soul – so important for that anchor to be solid! Many who feel they have an earthly hope also desire to “see” Jehovah. Part of the difficulty is the misunderstanding of this verse: “No man has seen God at any time.” In what way did John mean “seen”? John spoke figuratively quite a bit. He calls Jesus “the Word” and “the light’. He says God “is Love” and God “is light”. Let John himself explain…”No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is at the Father’s side is the… Read more »
Jesus offered his life as ransom to buy back what was lost by Adam. (Matt.20:28)
Jesus is thus described as the LAST Adam. (1 Cor. 15:45)
A ransom buys back EXACTLY what was lost – nothing MORE & nothing LESS.
If ANY number of humans are resurrected to heaven to become powerful spirit creatures, it becomes blatantly obvious that Jesus’ ransom price achieves MORE than what was lost, and severely unbalances the scales of justice.
NONE of Adam’s potential offspring had any hope other than everlasting life on earth.
Just my thoughts.
Great observation my friend, I’ll bring it up in my discussion with friends.
Everything in this article is pretty accurate, however its my view that there is indeed ONE hope, but its an earthly hope as Jehovah originally intended for mankind as was his original purpose before Adam and Eve sinned. We need to look outside the square and understand the whole conception of heaven, the bible has many different meanings for the term “heaven” I can discuss this further, but the answers are all there. These 144,000 are indeed a different group, they will be given the tasks to instruct and teach mankind with the information revealed in the new scrolls. The… Read more »
Ephesians 4:4 teaches Christ’s followers – “One body there is, and one spirit, just as you were called to the ONE HOPE of your calling.” That “one hope”- which is everlasting life on earth – is clearly shown in the following scriptures and harmonises with Jesus’ propitiatory ransom sacrifice which qualifies him as “the last Adam.” (Psalm 37:11) But the meek will possess the earth, And they will find exquisite delight in the abundance of peace. (Psalm 37:29) The righteous will possess the earth, And they will live forever on it. (Matthew 5:5) “Happy are the mild-tempered, since they will… Read more »
No problem. I often write (and read) in a hurry so my brief comments might sometimes sound like “I want the answer and I want it now” 😀 – but of course I am not all like that. Interesting comments everybody! I would like to see more like this on the forum though, it’s easier to follow comments and the discussion there when you can quote others etc.
Nightingale, I feel that a few of my words to you above may have come across a little more bluntly that I would have preferred or intended. No matter how careful we might be, sometimes stuff slips out that 20/20 hindsight would have dictated differently. Proverbs 10:19 reminds us “In the abundance of words there does not fail to be transgression”. I regret if any of my tone failed to uphold that standard.
Nightingale, Yes, according to scripture it would appear that all the saints will be Kings and Priests – I haven’t seen anything so far that would indicate otherwise. However, I thought your point about numbers was interesting, and I was thinking about what Jesus said to his true disciples, that in his Father’s house there were many dwelling places and positions, and so it would be reasonable to conclude that not all positions would be equal (John 14:2) Other scriptures too would indicate this, Matt 11:11, Luke 19:11-27, etc. So different abilities, some more knowledge than others, after all they… Read more »
It does seem like the two groups have two different roles. Otherwise, why would Revelation use any language at all to make them seem to us like they are not the same? The problem is determining exactly in what WAY they are different. I have often felt that the words of Revelation lack sufficient corroboration from the rest of the scriptures to reliably interpret it. If that were not the case, it would have been fully understood by now, but after 2,000 years, we seem almost as clueless as when John wrote them. As Meliti says, we will have to… Read more »
Looking at the foregoing, I think the one thing that we can say with absolute certainly is that we do not know who the 144,000 and the great crowd really are. We can say with certain that the two groups are depicted, but are they distinct from each other or the same group viewed from two viewpoints? The second comes out of the great tribulation, but we cannot even establish what that is with absolute certainty.
In short, we’ll just have to wait to see the revelation of these prophecies in God’s due time.
OR. 1)144,000 = Jewish 2) Great crowd = Gentiles. (It would not be likely that the Church would be divided into 12 tribes.) If correct, this vision of the 144,000 and the Great crowd would show God’s plan for Israel in spite of the persecution by antichrist and Satan during the GT after the three and a half years (into the 7 years) when the abomination of desolation is established in the Temple (literal temple build at the beginning of the 7 years, and which is to be destroyed, Matt 24.) Matt 19:28 “You who have followed me, in the… Read more »
Yes. But if there are millions of saints? Will they all be kings and priests? Are that many really needed?
I guess we’ll just have to wait to see how much hand-on, personal attention these ones will give to the billions of resurrected.
Nightingale, you asked “Yes. But if there are millions of saints? Will they all be kings and priests? Are that many really needed?” The problem in this hypothetical question is, of course: Who SAID there were millions of saints? The only one using this word “millions” at the moment is you. If a hypothetical situation, which cannot be proven, is actually true, is that situation a necessary one? That is, if there really are millions of saints, are they needed? Needed for what? Does being a “saint” also mean being a king? What do those kings DO, anyway? Remember some… Read more »
Hello Nightingale, As I like to preface any post (but don’t always remember to do it) we must, each of us, be mindful that we do not know everything, and that we can be wrong. I am applying that counsel to myself at this moment, so that you understand how to properly view the opinion I am about to give you. 1. Do I believe there will be “Christians and other faithful God’s servants from pre-Christian times” – you mean, resurrected ones (right?) “who are not kings/priests during the Millennium”? Yes, that must be true. Why? For the simple reason… Read more »
Thanks for your thoughts. It is my view also that no-one is going to heaven and that there is no such thing as “heavenly resurrection”. So it’s the Earth we are talking about whether the subject is the kings or the non-kings. And the 144.000 must be symbolic for the reasons you mentioned. One thing I would like to know is this though: what is the “Israel” that those “144.000” are sealed out from? I have pondered this on the DTT forum as well under the thread Revelation 7:1-4. (maybe we could continue this discussion there, would be more practical).… Read more »
Hi qspf, Do you think that there will be Christians and other faithful God’s servants from pre-Christian times who are not kings/priests during the Millennium? If so, where is this another group in the Bible? Even the great crowd serves in the temple, doesn’t that mean they are priests? This is the difficult thing for me, it seems strange that there would be maybe millions of kings/priests – are that many really needed – but it’s also true that Bible doesn’t seem to talk about those faithful who would not be kings/priests. Or does it? And doesn’t the little flock… Read more »
Hi qspf, you said: “Yes, I believe Jesus will return to the earth, in bodily form, at some point. The Watchtower dislikes this idea, and disapproves of other Christian religions that espouse such ideas. However, we must realize that after Jesus’ resurrection, he appeared to a number of persons in the vicinity of Jerusalem, and was recognized as a man” We certainly are on the same page here. Have you considered that we are now within the thousand year reign of Christ? Note Matt.25:31,32,46: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory (started in first Century -John1:14; Matt.26:64; Luke21:27;… Read more »
Hello peely, I must say I had no idea anyone would take my words so seriously, much less go to such efforts to respond in so well-considered a manner. Allow me to commend you. Some of the things you discuss touch on an understanding of Revelation. I cannot say that I really understand it. We only have to look at the Watchtower’s record in attempting to interpret it, as well as attempts by others throughout the ages, to know how difficult and fraught with uncertainty making the attempt can be. I believe a great harm is done when religious people… Read more »
qspf, I’ve been thinking about the immortality thing – we gather from Luke 20:36 that the angels are immortal. But everything said in the Bible about angels does not refer to good and bad angels at the same time, because we know that Satan and demons will be destroyed eventually. With regard to the elect becoming immortal, I understood that they couldn’t die in the sense that no one could kill them, or by any other means. And so if they remained faithful, as we understand they will, then they will continue to be immortal. But if circumstances did change,… Read more »
I have become fairly certain that no one is going to heaven, and I believe this is actually a good thing. I realize the notion that no one is going to heaven is one that is startling and controversial to many Christians, especially because it infringes on the cherished hopes and dreams of many of them. It would take a lengthy discourse to make a convincing case of it, but I would like to address some of the issues that suggest, to me at least, that this may be a real possibility. Consider: “In my Father’s house are many rooms.… Read more »
I too, as many others do, believe that Christ’s brothers are going to rule in the Kingdom of God on earth. I understand from your interesting comments that you think that Jesus will rule from heaven – have you considered the possibility that Jesus, as King of that Kingdom will also rule on the earth with his brothers?
I agree with this. Qspf, a great post, I especially like the point 2 that you brought up there. It is a mystery to me why so many believe that some people will go to heaven. Where does Jesus or Paul or anybody say such a thing? Nowhere you can find a statement like “you will be in heaven with me” or “we will all be with heaven with Christ” etc. It is just as assumption based on a few verses like the mentioned John 14. But have you considered that 1 Thessalonians is about the time when Jesus comes… Read more »
I don’t believe Jesus could be called corruptible simply because he could die. The reason he could die is because he was a real human being of flesh and blood. He was a perfect man, but having human perfection does not mean being indestructible. The integrity of Jesus was an open question at the beginning of his life. As Ecclesiastes puts it, death is “better” than life, the end “better” than the beginning, because only then will we know if the outcome of a person’s life is good or bad. We know NOW that Jesus was incorruptible because he was… Read more »
Yes, I believe Jesus will return to the earth, in bodily form, at some point. The Watchtower dislikes this idea, and disapproves of other Christian religions that espouse such ideas. However, we must realize that after Jesus’ resurrection, he appeared to a number of persons in the vicinity of Jerusalem, and was recognized as a man. How can this be, since we are told he “died once for all time”? If he was resurrected as a man, how could he go to heaven? The literal heaven (outer space?) is deadly to human life; a person in space would die in… Read more »
What you say about Jesus materializing a body for each occasion to suit the circumstances makes a lot of sense and is consistent with the scriptural record. I hadn’t thought of the application of Melchizedek’s lack of genealogy to this, but it certainly fits nicely.
Thank you for adding these thoughts.
Jesus is the first to inherit the earth – the second Adam. The covenant (Sarah) with Abraham produced a human seed, Christ. Gal 3:16 Abraham’s seed was promised to inherit the earth or “land”. Gen.28:13,14 Christ received spiritual life with his resurrection Rom 10:7,9 He is the first to fulfill Ps 37:11 He is heir of all things Heb 1:2 Everything is subject under him 1 Cor 15:28 All things were created through him and for him Col 1:16 Unity will come to all things in heaven and on earth Eph 1:10 He has been given all authority in heaven… Read more »
Gal 3:8 says the Gospel was preached in advance to Abraham. This in short is the Gospel of the Land/Kingdom, the Gospel as preached by Jesus and the apostle Paul.
That brings up another point.
Jehovah made a covenant with Abraham,one of the conditions was the land of Palestine,it’s hard to ignore that Abrahams descendants still occupy this same land despite the attempts of bigger and more powerful adversary’s to dislodge them!
Nowhere in scripture is Abrahams covenant rescinded,is natural Israel still in the picture? Your thoughts please.
In Ezek 37 a spiritual revival of Israel is mentioned. There are many other prophecies about a recovery of now blinded natural Israel. In the meantime the church (that is the international church) is the true Israel of God, Gal 6:16 and Phil 3:3.
Paul refers to the unconverted national, natural Israel as “the Israel of the flesh”, 1 Cor 10:18.
Romans chapters 9, 10 and 11 are interesting.
Paul sees, that in the future, there will be a conversion of now blinded Israel.
I will have to research this as time permits but perhaps there is someone on this forum with the information at hand. My question is, Did Jehovah promise Abraham that his descendants would inhabit Palestine forever? Because if there is no stipulation as to length of time, then we can safely say that Jehovah kept his word. They inhabited that land for 1,600 years.
And still do!
The land promise to Abraham and his descendants – Christians are invited to share in this promise as spiritual children of Abraham – “the blessing of Abraham” this phrase if found in Gal 3:14 and Gen 28:4 – this is the link between the two testaments. Abraham and his seed have never yet inherited the land/earth. In his sermon at Acts 7 (the sermon which cost him his life) Stephen said at Acts 7:5 “He gave him no inheritance here, not even enough ground to set his foot on. But God promised that he and his descendants after him would… Read more »
“Then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief.” (Matt. 24:30). Will this “beating themselves in grief” result in all the tribes of the earth not being destroyed, making a post-Armageddon resurrection unnecessary? Just a thought.
Yes where exactly do we find the early Christians preaching a good news that entailed having a pet tiger and a palatial house on the lake,for the life of me I can’t find such a message! However,the death and ressurection of Jesus abounds as good news,and this has not been a part of the witnessing work of JWs,Paul said he was a minister of the new covenant( 2Cor3:6) I have never heard it taught that the bro and sis are ministers of the new covenant,or that they are to draw people into the new covenant,so what are they all ministers… Read more »
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” Gal 1:8,9
To go back on the point of the promises made in Psalms and Isaiah re the “earth” the word for earth (erets)in Hebrew carries the meaning of land or territory, not the planet. When a Hebrew used this word he was using it with the understanding it referred to his territory in the “land” of Israel. Most other translations render the word “earth “(erets) as land,which is more the meaning conveyed in Hebrew,it suits GB theology to use the word earth instead of the more correct land to add weight to the idea of the earthly hope. It is even… Read more »
That was one of the most complicated articles i have read .It shows yet again to me how confusing things tend to get when we become unscriptural and push ahead into the area of speculation making up our own doctrines .I saw that for years on the body of elders when they started to depart from the scriptures thats when the problems started . Kev
Further in John 14:2. I looked up the Greek word for “house” and one meaning is given as “household”. Therefore could the scripture read, “in my Father’s household”?
And just as an example of the term, in 1 Peter 4:17 “the house of God” is referring to God’s people who are the prospective members of the Kingdom.
It sounds reasonable enough to me. While I’d love to fly around the cosmos and walk through walls as much as the next guy, I won’t complain if I wind up earth-bound. Paradise will be, after all, a very nice place to live. I suspect there’s a little more to it than that, but I’m happy to wait and see.
anderestimme, were you referring to John 14:2,3? v 2 “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” If this is referring to the future Kingdom of God on earth, then I don’t see a problem with this scripture. v 3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” When Jesus returns, if he and his brothers are to rule on… Read more »
I find our message to people consist of living forever in paradise where they can enjoy owning their own home, not getting sick, playing with the animals, frolicking with their resurrected loved ones, etc. This seemed to be the thrust of the Memorail outline talk. We rarely, if ever, include Jesus Christ in our message. Join our organization and you’ll be right with God. Forget about scriptures like 2 Cor. 5:18-20, or Luke 24:45-47. Any wonder growth in this country has stagnated.
If the Good News of the Kingdom is to be preached accurately in all the inhabited earth, then yes, there is more to come – how otherwise would the scripture be fulfilled? What we do know is that the “preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom” precedes the establishment of God’s Kingdom.
“This gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
I see your point, but it is based on the assumption that to qualify for fulfillment, Mt 24:14 requires the good news to be preached “accurately”. Who is to determine just how much accuracy is required for fulfillment? We have to figure that out, lay down the parameters to measure whether or not it has been preached accurately enough to qualify and then we have to determine if all the nations have received this accurate message, and then to what extent that preaching must penetrate into all the nations before prophetic fulfillment can be achieved. And boom, before you know… Read more »
To me the “destination” is unimportant. I got “on the bus” when I asked God to direct my life, at my baptism. He is the driver and I will get off wherever he chooses to let me off. No sarcasm intended my brothers and sisters. Paradise on earth sounded marvelous when it was the only hope offered at the time JWs came to my door. At this point in my long life, I will go wherever He has prepared for me.
So then, if the Good News of the Kingdom of God is not being preached as accurately as Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul preached, how extensively today is the Good News being preached – not very, I think. Would this not lead us to conclude then, that if the Good News of the Kingdom is to be preached in all the inhabited earth (Matt 24:14) that there is indeed more to come?
That’s a very good question. Just how accurately does the message of good news concerning the kingdom of God and his Christ have to be preached for Mt 24:14 to be fulfilled?
There is only one saving Christian Gospel which was preached by Jesus and then the apostles. This is the Good News of the Kingdom that will be preached in all the inhabited earth until the end of this system and the return of Jesus Christ.
The very same Gospel then is what Jesus true disciples should be preaching.
True, but doesn’t really answer the question you raised. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Well done. You’ve managed to put in words some things I’ve felt since I was a child being raised in the truth. I know what’s fair and the official doctrine is far from it. It really is a paradox. They cannot change it without re-evaluating the entire history and purpose of the organization. I don’t expect any true believers to read this, though, which makes me sad. It’s not that complicated and quite liberating. Thanks again!
I would ask you all to present scriptural proof (sola scritura… “Only scripture”) that the resurrection of the unrighteousness is a progressive process that happens during the thousand years.
The fact is that even JW’s know that there is no scriptural support for this teaching. It is an extrapolation of understandings. If this is then unsupported in scripture, then perhaps we need to go back to basics and see what the scriptures actually say about the first and second resurrections…
It cannot be proven just as we cannot prove that the resurrection of the unrighteous occurs after the thousand years is over as some contend. All we can do is theorize. In the end, it isn’t important that we understand the details now, only the big picture.
“I would ask you all to present scriptural proof (sola scritura… “Only scripture”) that the resurrection of the unrighteousness is a progressive process that happens during the thousand years.” Well, you know we can’t do that; there just isn’t any. Rom 9:28- For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. 1 Cor 6:2 – For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the… Read more »
Hi Meleti, thank you for seeing it as important to spend the time and effort in writing these articles.
may you continue to find the encouragement to continue .
light is good
Thanks, lightflashup. Much appreciated.
Sometimes I think we pat ourselves on the back a little too much, and especially when it comes to the pioneer ministry. I must admit that many pioneers I know are hard working, but what do all their efforts add up to when it comes to Bible studies and the number baptized in this country. At my recent Circuit Assembly, 3 were baptized from our part of the circuit, one being the son of a brother in my congregation. Our Circuit has a total of 341 regular pioneers. Do the math. It means a lot of man hours went into… Read more »
What you condemn as unscriptural is the very hope the majority of Christianity today hold: Christians will eventually live forever on earth. The notion of resurrection to heaven is the later idea. When Rutherford introduced it, he didn’t present a new idea but an old one. What the watchtower taught previously and teaches now for the 144,000 is the new idea. All will live on the earth (Matthew 5:5), including Jesus (Acts 3:21).
Agreed. NWT Rev 5:10 reads ” they will rule over the earth” implying that the anointed rule from heaven. This is a sanitized version of the translation. The same scripture in the Italian translation of the NWT says ” they will rule on earth” . most translations read this way. That Jesus and the 144000 will rule on earth. There is nothing in scripture to say that Jesus parousia is a fly by… That is he comes and then he goes back to heaven. Daniels image of gold,silver, copper and so forth is struck by a stone and this stone… Read more »
I agree that it has been used to suggest ones rule in heaven, but it is actually ambiguous. “Over the earth” is in fact the proper translation, but just as David ruled over Israel, it didn’t mean he did so from somewhere else.
I have to agree. Jesus promised his disciples that they would inherit the earth, and promises like those found at Psalm 37 don’t go away just because they’re in the OT. It is a little confusing because of Jesus’ promises regarding his disciples’ being with him in his father’s house, but the idea that inheriting the earth implies living on it is hard to refute. Perhaps faithful humans will be granted the ability to materialize and de-materialize like the angels of Noah’s day.
Now, there’s an odd thought.
Another variable is the definition of heaven. The word is used in different ways in the Bible and one has to look at the context to try to distinguish between one and the other.
I did quite a bit of research on this question of “on” vs. “over”, and according to the interlinear resources and concordances I found, there’s basically no difference between “on” and “over” in this context, based on the Greek word “epi”. The reference bible tries to justify translating “epi” as “over” because the word is used in the Greek genitive case. However, there is a subtlety of translation here even for the genitive case. When used to signify location, “epi” means “on” or “upon”, while when signifying rulership with respected to persons being under authority, “epi” means “over”. Thus, it… Read more »
Jesus spoke repeatedly of the “kingdom of the heavens”. Not the kingdom of the earth. So before we can categorically state that the first hope was for Christians to live forever on earth, one needs to present some hard evidence.
The scriptures also speak about storing our treasures in heaven. This is not literal. We cannot physically store our gold and silver there.
James 1:17 says.. Every good gift and every perfect present is from above, coming down from the Father of the celestial lights, who does not vary or change like the shifting shadows.
So in the Hebrew mind all good and perfect things come from gods hand… or from heaven. Therefore the expression “kingdom of the heavens” has the same meaning.
God has stored up in heaved a perfect promise for the anointed brothers of Christ.
Excellent reasoning, but hardly proof of one view or the other.
Silas Silvanus, James 1:17 – what an interesting scripture which I now intend to research in line with your comments. Thank you for that, much appreciated.
I call these verses “heavenly bank” verses and there are quite a lot of them: Matthew 5:12, 6:20, 19:21, Mark 10:21, Luke 6:23, Luke 18:22, 2 Cor 5:1, Phil 3:20, Col 1:5, 1 Peter 1:4 etc. It is such a shame that so many people think that they mean people go to heaven. When someone retires, does he go to live in the bank where his savings have been invested?
Regarding “about storing our treasures in heaven”. Even if we were to agree that our “treasures” were stored in heaven, Jesus did NOT say that we would store OURSELVES in heaven some day. We know for certain that heaven is the dwelling place of God. What could be “stored” with God? Only our good name, our reputation as humble persons endeavoring to do right. If God has received that message and “treasured” the manner in which we have lived our lives, by viewing us and our lives in a favorable way, in way do we need ourselves to be relocated… Read more »
I think that we simply do not have sufficient knowledge now to fully understand – and reconcile – Jesus’ promises at Matt 5:3, 5. It’s easy to see a correlation between ‘inheriting the earth’ and the promises at, say, Psalm 37. However, I firmly believe that the all-earth-no-heaven viewpoint is just as wrong as the all-heaven-no-earth viewpoint. Faithful Christians will go to where Jesus is and see God, and they will inherit the earth and reside upon it. I’d love to know the finer details now, but I can wait.
Kingdom of the heavens = Kingdom of God, Matthew 19:23, 24. Only Matthew uses the term “kingdom of the heavens”, where heaven refers to God. At the time the word God was sometimes substituted by the word heaven, for example “I have sinned against heaven” i.e. against God. The Bible never mentions “kingdom in heaven”.
Another serios problem will arose if one trying to properly explain Luke 20,34-36 with the two hope doctrine in mind:
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. – NWT