[From ws15/02 p. 10 for April 13-19]
“Though you never saw him, you love him. Though you do not
see him now, yet you exercise faith in him.” – 1 Peter 1:8 NWT
In this week’s study, there is a footnote for paragraph 2 that reads,
“First Peter 1:8, 9 was written to Christians with the heavenly hope. In principle, however, those words also apply to individuals who have the earthly hope.”
We readily admit that these words were written only to those with a heavenly hope.[i]
This raises the question, “Why didn’t Peter also include those with an earthly hope?” Surely he was aware of an earthly hope. Surely Jesus preached an earthly hope. In fact, he did not, and our admission that these words can only apply “in principle” demonstrates we are aware of this omission of an earthly hope from the scriptural record. True, millions—even billions—will be resurrected to earth as part of the resurrection of the unrighteous. (Acts 24:15) However, they get there without ‘exercising faith’ in Jesus. That is hardly a ‘goal of their faith’.
Having no scriptural basis to apply 1 Peter 1:8, 9 to the millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses the Governing Body has convinced to hope for imperfect life on earth, they must fall back on the latest iteration of the hackneyed “by extension” ploy.
Jesus Is Courageous/Imitate Jesus’ Courage
Under the first of these two subheadings (pars. 3 thru 6) we learn how Jesus boldly defended the truth and stood up to the religious authorities of his day who were invalidating God’s word by their traditions, lording it over the flock of God and abusing their authority. Under the second subheading (pars. 7 thru 9) we’re given examples of how we can imitate Jesus’ courage.
Young ones are encouraged to identify themselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses in school in a display of courage. All of us are encouraged to speak “with boldness by the authority of Jehovah” in our ministry in imitation of Paul and his companions in Iconium.
We should pause here to correct a mistake in paragraph 8. It wasn’t by the authority of Jehovah that Paul and his companions mustered up boldness. The original Greek reads literally, “they stayed speaking boldly for the Lord”. That the conjectural emendation used to justify the insertion of Jehovah here is misguided can be demonstrated by the context. It speaks of the signs and wonders they were granted to perform by “the word of the grace of him” [interlinear]. It was in the name of Jesus, not Jehovah, that the apostles performed signs of healing. (Acts 3:6) We can also be assured that the phrase “the authority of the Lord” refers to Jesus, not Jehovah. Jehovah gave Jesus “all authority…in heaven and on the earth.” (Mt 28:18) Paul was not about to shift the focus of authority back to God, when God himself had set the focus on the Lord. Sadly, we fail to imitate Paul in this, seeming to never miss an opportunity in our publications of late to pull the limelight off Jesus.
Paragraph 9 speaks of showing courage “in the face of suffering”. Application is made for the need to imitate Jesus’ courage when someone we love dies; when we are suffering serious illness or injury; when we are depressed; when we are persecuted.
Our brothers in Korea are suffering persecution for their courageous stand of neutrality. However, for the millions of us living elsewhere, we have rarely if ever known persecution from without. Nevertheless, a small but growing number of true Christians in the Organization are beginning to experience the same type of persecution Jesus suffered. What can be learned from Jesus’ courageous example?
Being faithful to the truth will put you at odds with the religious authority of our Organization. Speaking up to overturn strongly entrenched false doctrines using the power of God’s word will cause those who feel their authority is being undermined to attack, just as the Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day did. Make no mistake, we are at war. (2Co 10:3-6; He 4:12, 13; Eph 6:10-20)
There are many in the Organization who have allowed their love of truth to be dulled by fear of man. To excuse their inaction, they fall back on faulty reasoning and scriptural misapplication, spouting clichés like, “We must wait on Jehovah” or “We mustn’t run ahead”. They overlook the clear direction found at James 4:17:
“Therefore, if someone knows how to do what is right and yet does not do it, it is a sin for him.” – James 4:17.
It is all well and good to say that we should be courageous in standing up for truth, but how should we go about doing it? The second part of The Watchtower study will, ironically, provide the answer.
Jesus Is Discerning
Paragraph 10 opens with this statement:
Discernment is good judgment—the ability to tell right from wrong and then choose the wise course. (Heb. 5:14) It has been defined as “the ability to make sound judgments in spiritual matters.”
This statement, if applied fully, clashes with our teaching that the instruction we get from the Governing Body, in its assumed capacity as “The Faithful Slave”, must be obeyed without question. However, faithful Christians are not about to surrender their ability to discern right from wrong to a group of men. Such ones will continue to imitate the Christ in discernment and in all other things—including his love of truth.
Imitate Jesus’ Discernment
Paragraph 15 gives good counsel on imitating Jesus’ discernment in our speech. Often his words were up-building, but at times he chose to tear down, such as when he had to unmask the unrighteousness of the Pharisees. Even then he built up, for he helped others to see the religious leaders of his day as they truly were, not as they projected themselves to be.
When not denouncing hypocrisy, Jesus’ words were always ‘seasoned with salt’. His desire was never to exalt himself and his own wisdom, but to win the hearts and minds of those who would listen. (Col 4:6) It seems that our greatest preaching and teaching opportunities today are with our immediate JW brethren. Here we have a people who have already come so far. They have rejected involvement in war. They refuse to become involved with the political affairs of this world. In this, they imitate their Lord. (Mt 4:8-10; John 18:36) They have rejected many of the false, god-dishonoring doctrines that the vast majority of Christians practice such as idol worship, the Trinity, hellfire, and the immortality of the human soul.
But we still fall short and lately it seems that we are going backwards. We have begun to idolize men. Additionally, though God has given us ample time (2Pe 3:9), we continue to adhere to traditions of men and teach them as doctrines of God. (Mt 15:9; 15:3, 6) Traditions stem from men and are continually observed even where there is no sound basis for them. Despite the total lack of solid Scriptural support, we continue to believe and teach 1914 as significant, because that’s what we started with back 140 years ago and it distinguishes us from all other religions. We teach that the other sheep are a secondary class of Christians denied the hope that Jesus offered to the world because, 80 years ago, our then-President offered it up as truth. Though we have recently disavowed his entire basis for this teaching (unfounded types and antitypes) we continue to practice this belief—the very definition of a tradition.
Let those of us who have been set free from the traditions of men imitate the discernment of Christ in knowing when to speak, when to remain silent, and what words to use—words ‘seasoned with salt’. Often, it is best to start with one point. Ask questions rather than make statements. Lead them to the conclusion so that they arrive there of their own accord. We can drag a horse to water, but we can’t make it drink. Likewise, we can lead a man to truth, but we can’t make him think.
If we find resistance, we’d best to act with caution. We have pearls of wisdom, but not all will appreciate them. (Mt 10:16; 7:6)
At the end of paragraph 16 we find the statement: “We are willing to listen to their opinions and when appropriate yield to their viewpoint.” If only our brothers held to this counsel when it came to scripturally-based challenges to the authority of the Governing Body.
Paragraph 18 states:
Has it not been delightful to reflect on some of Jesus’ appealing qualities? Imagine how rewarding it would be to make a study of his other qualities and learn how we can be more like him. Let us, then, be determined to follow his steps closely.
We could not agree more. How very sad that we do not do this. In magazine after magazine we focus on the organization and its accomplishments. In the monthly broadcasts on tv.jw.org, we focus on the organization and the Governing Body. Why not use these powerful teaching tools to do the very thing that paragraph 18 says would be most “delightful” and “rewarding”?
The “food at the proper time” which the Governing Body dispenses does not dwell much on Jesus Christ. But by imitating both the courage and discernment of Jesus rather than the earthly wisdom of sinful humans, we will use every opportunity given us to bear witness for him and to declare all the counsel of God, and we will not hold back. (Acts 20:25-27)
[i] I refer to the heavenly hope here in the context in which Jehovah’s Witnesses understand it. To do otherwise might derail the core theme of this post’s review of the article. However, I no longer believe that the heavenly hope means that all Jesus’ brothers fly off to heaven never to return. Exactly what it refers to and how the realization of that hope will unfold is something we can only guess at right now. They may be educated guesses, but the reality is bound to blow us away. (1Co 13:12, 13)
Gal 3:29 “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.”
What I understand from this scripture is “If you belong to Christ” i.e. if you are a Christian, “then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.” And for this, Christians in the true biblical sense, would require to be born again or born from above. And as we now know, this is the hope for all true Christians.
I agree Wild Olive. Until the GB gets the new covenant right there is no hope of progression, this is the most important point, it denies all the flock of coming into a relationship with the Father through the blood of Jesus. Also the dumping of the GB and their many rules, I can’t see that ever happening, it has gone so far from the bible that what we have is a legalistic corporation that has little to do with the 1st century congregations which they pride themselves on imitating. Satan has got the sheep trapped like the bird catcher,… Read more »
John 3:3 “Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
Being born again or “born from above” is the non-negotiable basis for becoming a Christian.
The footnote on Jn 3:3 in NET: Jn 3:3 / 3: tn The word ἄνωθεν (anwqen) has a double meaning, either “again” (in which case it is synonymous with παλίν [palin]) or “from above” (BDAG 92 s.v. ἄνωθεν). This is a favorite technique of the author of the Fourth Gospel, and it is lost in almost all translations at this point. John uses the word 5 times, in 3:3, 7; 3:31; 19:11 and 23. In the latter 3 cases the context makes clear that it means “from above.” Here ( 3:3, 7) it could mean either, but the primary meaning… Read more »
Thanks menrov for that insight . That makes sense to me . I havent read john 3 for a while . kev .
It all depends, of course, on what you understand the term “Christian” to mean, that is in the true biblical sense and to be able to understand that we will need to do further research on the scriptures with regard to the Good News of the Kingdom of God. As to who is truly born again, or born from above will be dependant on the judgement of Jesus Christ and not us. Having said that, we all know that there are many good people who display Christian qualities, and there are people who even die for their faith in Jesus… Read more »
Time and again you show me why I need to get a NET Bible with the footnotes. I have it book-marked (from links you gave me). But I really need to get a paper version also. I want to have one for personal use anytime (work, meetings, and ministry – the “ministry,” not so much for the public, but for the “sheep” for whom this information has been withheld).
I agree Martha.
The Regional Convention program is a step in the right direction. Of course, it’s all about imitating Jesus as a role model. I would have been more encouraged if it were about following him as Lord and King. However, I’m reserving judgment on its contents until I hear what is actually said. Our current WT study is a case in point. It too is about imitating Jesus, yet they use Jesus as a model for JWs to imitate by being loyal and obedient to the organization.
Meleti,when you say “the bro and sis have come so far” the reality is that is not true,we have gone nowhere as a religious body,we have all become idolaters by default, there is no spiritual growth without the new covenant all we are doing is collecting facts about Jehovah,the bible is nothing more than a book of good instructions without it bringing us back into sonship with our Father, and our beliefs just become another control mechanism without a genuine spiritual connection, the new covenant changes all of that into a progression of spirituality, this is what is being denied… Read more »
Where did I say that?
What Meleti said was: “It seems that our greatest preaching and teaching opportunities today are with our immediate JW brethren. Here we have a people who have already come so far.” Now, I know the org has BIG problems as you rightly mention, but I do feel there are positive things to be said about JWs as well. The things Meleti mentions directly after the above quote – the rejection of war, traditional idolatry, the Trinity and hellfire, as well as maintaining political neutrality – are among them. So, for those of us still “in”, there is meaningful work to… Read more »
I feel absolutely blessed, even though I now know that I do not belong to the new covenant, but to the next promise – the Kingdom come. While inside, I was not sure of that because they never say it out load what they actually teach ..SO I am going to send my farwell letter to as many sisters and brothers I can, because I believe its a matter of life or death. The new covenant will soon be fulfilled, and then it could be too late. IF you belong to that covenant, AND are awake then you know what… Read more »
I’m so glad I’m not the only one that feels faintly nauseous watching these; I’ve only made it through the first 15 minutes of the latest one and I’ve tried 3 times now to watch it. I keep being ‘encouraged’ to watch it because apparently it’s ‘ wonderful’ , spoken in reverential tones by sisters with gleaming adoring eyes. It scares me. The scripture about ‘ sacred service with one’s power of reason’ keeps running through my mind. Reason! Not emotional fervour. I enjoy the factual presentations, for instance the one about the Bible exhibition. Other than that I find… Read more »
One of the hardest things when you leave the Organisation is lack of Christian fellowship, and we know from scriptures that such fellowship is indeed a support to our faith. However, if Jesus is drawing his true followers out of false religion, then it would follow that there would not be many of us at this time; and this would mean that we may feel as though we were on our own. We can use this time wisely by taking in “accurate knowledge” from God’s Word, which we really need if we are going to be available to truly help… Read more »
well said Wild Olive.. once the scales have dropped of and one sees that they have been duped or hoodwinked lied to, there is no more trust or respect its like an abusive marriage the love goes for those that you once believed had your best interests at heart, the GB is not concerned about individuals only the group, many are leaving sadly stumbled and not searching the bible for answers and help to their many why’s.
I can’t look at the GB videos for to long really I feel ill.
Tell you what katrina that point about the abusive marraige ive described it like That as well . Ive very often said i felt like an abused wife That was just desperate to get out . Its just crazy to think that we are talking about a religion here That claims to be christian it just shouldnt feel like that. Kev
Hi Kev I think once one really comes to the realisation that we have been lied to, its so difficult, we sway back and forwards and confusion, we have anger issues, depression and what ifs, and is it me, but as you said studying Gods word and drawing close to Christ as his yoke is light really helps. And it is like a bereavement, for many they feel so alone and its normal to want to associate with ones in like mind, this is why this site is so therapeutic and helpful, I have learned so much, and the comments… Read more »
@Kev,the realisation that indeed a trap has been set for a conscientious objector is a shock, I went through a long bout of anger and frustration,depression doesn’t seem to grab me but seething anger does,and I felt genuine hatred for the GB as I followed their instructions close as possible believing them to be Gods spokesman,only to find that real bible study pulled most of my cherished JW theology to pieces,it seems to me the only way the JW religion can continue is if the GB can shut down people’s thinking and reasoning ability as painlessly as possible,this is the… Read more »
I think the term DA is also used as a legalistic approach, like we didn’t kick them out the DA themselves. I would not DA it gives them the power, fading or just not showing up I think is the way to go.
All this concept about officially disassociating ones self just seems to me to be a rule set up by the watchtower to cause division . it seems to me all the scriptures say is that those who didnt want to asossociate any more just simply stopped meeting together .hebrews 10 v24 and 25 .. They have made the baptism a kind of an initiation ceremony .hence the words you are now one of jehovahs witnesses . So welcome to the group . Then the disfellowship and disassociation process is a sort of un initiation . So now your not one… Read more »
The org is moving more away from Christ as the years go by substituting the GB go through them and the org for salvation, I guess it will be time to come out, sick of all the hiding and not making a stand for truth, it is bad for ones emotional and mental health, the org is a very sick tool and creates a problem for any who really love truth and want to draw close to Jehovah, through Christ and have the org standing in the way and that is exactly what I believe it is doing.
There’s no doubt about it, leaving the Organisation for a true Christian can be a very difficult process. Speaking from experience I would describe it as being a bit like a bereavement – it is a process you have got to go through and there is no way round it. I think the responsibility we have is that when we know a brother or sister has made that decision, is to give them our help and support. What has helped me is to study, study, study – to take in accurate knowledge from God’s Word and prayer of course. There… Read more »
It really is. I’ve been out for 2 weeks and I have my highs and lows. I feel free some days and others I want to go back. I didn’t experience what many did in the organization. I loved my elders and hall. I loved my congregation. The people were a family. So I feel like voluntarily gave up my family. But I’ll get over it
I will pray for you Chris. Remember that with God all things are possible.
thats correct katrina and skye . I found myself with some emotional problems and what i believe some mental health issues . in the latter years which i honestly believe were caused by the religion .. But like you skye i really did throw myself into some serious bible study .. After a while i could see where i had gone wrong and gained alot of comfort from the scriptures . Not everyone has the same experience of course but i feel much better now im out . It was just like a massive weight was lifted from my shoulders… Read more »
Regards. Disassociation letters please understand brothers with that im not having a go at anyone that takes this step its down to the individual at the end of the day. But there are. Few points and questions i would like say. 1. The whole concept again seems to me to be based around watchtower policy. And i have found no scriptural principal that supports such a thing. The nearest account i suppose is pauls admonition to do not forsake the gathering of yourselves together. 2. I think its designed to shift the blame. From the religion itself to the individual.… Read more »
Thanks again Meleti. Knowing how the organization treats Jesus, these 2 articles are pure window dressing exercises. We should not so much imitate Jesus, but we should follow him, as our shepherd. Sheep do no imitate but follow their shepherd. To Christians, Jesus is their master. And as it is written, He is the (only) way to eternal life and to the Father. As long as the organisation does not adopt that scriptural truth but actually does the opposite, every article on Jesus makes it a pure window dressing exercise, or a lip-service to the outside world. Not one of… Read more »
That foornote about 1 peter 1 v 8 and 9 . Applying only in priciple should actually go for the entire NT . as far as the JWs are concerned ..
“Sadly, we fail to imitate Paul in this, seeming to never miss an opportunity in our publications of late to pull the limelight off Jesus.” One thing last year’s redacted historical document – God’s Kingdom Rules – managed to include, was a renewed determination to take the focus off Jesus and on to the “divine name.” On page 42 paragraph 9 it took the opportunity to quote the Watchtower of March 15, 1976 and say that the bible students had been giving “overbalanced importance” to Jesus. Today’s faithful and discreet slave would like to maintain an attitude of not giving… Read more »
Thanks for sharing that, Rory. It’s an important reference to bear in mind.
The “overbalanced importance” given to Jesus as mentioned in ‘God’s Kingdom Rule’ book by early Bible students is in harmony with NT .
The name “Jesus” appears 912 times, hence far outnumbering the 237 insertions of the name “Jehovah” in the NT, “Christ” appears an additional 530 or so times (though often in combination with the name “Jesus”).
So the current practice as indicated in par 9 of the book, page 42, is a copy of OT pattern.
This makes me ask: why follow OT precedence ? Are we not CHRISTIANS?
Which is why I left the JWs and am now a Bible Student. 😀
A JW who truly imitates Jesus courage and discernment is soon labeled as “apostate” , expelled from the synagogue . . . I mean congregation . . . and shunned by all JWs.
Hello. I recently submitted the disassociation letter. I wants to stay with the Organziation and even want to go back. But aren’t we called to come out of Babylon?
Chris, please explain what a “disassociation” letter is?
I would be happy to. There is a difference between disassociation and disfellowship. Disassociation is when one voluntarily leaves WITH notification to the Body of Elders. Fading and just walking away will leave one as inactive. I wrote a letter that stated that I no longer wished to be known as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
And what was their reply to this, how were you treated?
There is a difference between disassociation and disfellowshipping but isn’t it merely semantics? Isn’t the end result the same? What I’m trying to say is, aren’t you treated (or mistreated) the same as a disfellowshipped person?
That is correct. If you tell two or more elders that you don’t want to be a Jehovah’s Witness anymore, they will make an announcement to the effect that ” is no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses”. This is exactly the same announcement that is made when a person is disfellowshipped. So the congregation members have no way of knowing the difference and are to treat the individual just as disfellowshipped.
They were very kind about it. I loved my Kingdom Hall. I just disagreed with obeying the priests I mean Governing Body and having to belong to an organization for ssalvation. They said if I ever change my mind then I am welcome to come back. They truely were the best people i knew.
That’s true. My elders said I can reverse my decision at any time.
Great points and observations! I especially agree with this “It seems that our greatest preaching and teaching opportunities today are with our immediate JW brethren. Here we have a people who have already come so far” I have made the decision to continue to associate with the congregation as the loss for me to leave is unbearable at this time. Therefore to make the best of it I have focused on my brothers and sisters who you have pointed out ” have already come so far” and I have had some serious success. When preparing for the WT. after reading… Read more »
>> So I disagree with the old adage “you can lead a horse to water but you can”t make him drink” yes you can if you SALT the Oats first.
I like that. Well said. And do let us know – if you are able to do so – how the call to brother Lett turns out.
Thanks brother, for sharing that with us. I also, by choice, am not currently serving as an Elder. My comments still carry some weight, and like yourself, I am very often thanked for the insight I give to the information in the study articles. The brothers sometimes ask me if I’m an Elder in the congregation and I tell them not officially. However, I do make sure they understand that I am an older man, having served as an Elder for over 30 years. I’m terribly dissapointed with the adoration of the GB and the downplaying of jesus’ role as… Read more »