Working Together with God - A Cause for Rejoicing

– posted by meleti

[From ws1/16 p. 28 for March 28 April 3]

Please read the following passage carefully, then answer the question that follows.

“Therefore, we are ambassadors substituting for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us. As substitutes for Christ, we beg: “Become reconciled to God.” 21 The one who did not know sin, he made to be sin for us, so that by means of him we might become God’s righteousness. 6 Working together with him, we also urge you not to accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose.” (2Co 5:20-6:1)

Who is the “him” being referred to here?

If you answered: Jesus, you answered correctly in accordance with the semantics of that passage.

Nevertheless, if you only read the theme text for this study (2Co 6:1) then you are likely going to arrive at the conclusion which the Governing Body wants you to accept—that Jehovah is being referred to.

The last verse of this passage is actually the first verse of a new chapter, but we have to remember that chapter and verse designations were added to the text long after the Bible was completed and are there only as a means to quickly reference a particular passage, not to clarify the meaning of the text. Similarly, paragraph breaks and modern punctuation are added by the translator to help us better get the meaning, but are also subject to the same human bias that can skew the meaning of any translation.

It is for this reason that we should always read the context.

Let us examine where else in this study, the publishers are relying on us not to read the context.

Paragraph 5

“Yet, Jehovah allows us to be his “fellow workers.” (1 Cor. 3:9) The apostle Paul wrote: 'Working together with him, we also urge you not to accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose.' (2 Cor. 6:1) Working along with God is an undeserved honor, causing us great rejoicing. Let us consider some reasons why.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses reading this are going to think that they are God’s fellow workers.  After all, it says so right there in the Bible.  However, the rest of 1Co 3:9 says that the “us” Paul is referring to are “God’s building”.  Now in the same context we read:

“Do you not know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that the spirit of God dwells in you?” (1Co 3:16)

Does the Governing Body not teach us that God’s temple refers to the anointed?  And is it not in the anointed that “the spirit of God dwells”?  So then it is the anointed who are God’s fellow workers, not the JW Other Sheep.

This paragraph reinforces the erroneous idea that 2Co 6:1 is referring to Jehovah, but we’ve seen that is not true.  Either the writer is inept, woefully misinformed, has failed to do even a modicum of research, or is willfully misleading us.  Since each article is vetted repeatedly before getting to print, the same must be concluded about all those involved in the process.  Remember, this is the so-called “food at the proper time.”

Paragraph 7

“We realize that the work of sharing the good news is vitally important. It opens the way to everlasting life for those who become reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:20)”

This is yet another misapplication.  The cited verse speaks of Christians being “ambassadors substituting for Christ”.  Without getting into the questionable NWT rendering of that passage, are we not taught that the Other Sheep are not ambassadors?  That only the anointed are? (it-1 p. 89 Ambassador)

Paragraph 8

“Though we find happiness when people respond to the message we preach, we also delight in knowing that we are pleasing to Jehovah and that he appreciates our efforts to serve him. (Read 1 Corinthians 15:58.)”

1 Corinthians 15:58 doesn’t speak of pleasing Jehovah. It speaks of pleasing the Lord.  Of course, when we please the Lord Jesus, we please Jehovah.  However, the Governing Body doesn’t want us to focus on Jesus which is why the texts we’ve seen so far are skewed to point to Jehovah and bypass Jesus.  Since Jehovah put Jesus where he is and invested all authority in him, we bypass him at our peril.  (Mt 28:18)

Paragraph 10

“As we conform to God’s standards and share in the work of preaching, we come to understand his appealing qualities. We learn why it is wise to trust in him and to follow his direction. As we draw close to God, he draws close to us. (Read James 4:8.)”

Do you see any hint in this—or the rest of the study for that matter—that the way to "understand [God’s] appealing qualities" is through Jesus?  From this excerpt, one gets the idea that to draw close to God we must draw close to the organization.  After all, the preaching work referred to here is directed by the organization, and one is expected to share in it in accordance with the standards laid down by the Organization.  Through that work, we will get to know God’s appealing qualities, and he will draw close to us. Jesus still isn’t in the picture.

Paragraph 11

“The bonds of love that we enjoy with God and with fellow humans may be strong now, but they will be even stronger in the righteous new world. Think of the work that lies ahead! There will be resurrected ones to be welcomed back and to be educated in the ways of Jehovah. The earth will need to be transformed into a paradise. These are no small tasks, but how joyful it will be to work shoulder to shoulder and to grow to perfection under the Messianic Kingdom!”

It would have been so easy to have written, "The bonds of love that we enjoy with God and with Jesus and with fellow humans...."  We reveal much of what is in our heart by what comes out of our mouth or our pen. (Lu 6:45)

What we see in this paragraph is a further reinforcing of the idea from the past two WT studies as well as the Memorial talk that the hope that Jehovah’s Witnesses have and which they preach is to live in the New World as the righteous who survive Armageddon.  If this were true, why would they need to “grow to perfection”?  The anointed are granted perfection upon their resurrection because they are “declared righteous by faith.” (Ro 5:1)  So why are the Other Sheep not declared righteous by faith?  If they are not righteous, then they are unrighteous.  There is no third state in which a human exists before God.  So in this the Jehovah’s Witnesses who put faith in the teachings of the Governing Body and refuse to accept the good news which Jesus and the apostles preached are right. They will indeed work shoulder to shoulder with the other unrighteous resurrected ones who come back.  However, this is not a hope.  This is the eventual and inevitable outcome for all, whether they believe in Jesus or not.  The Bible speaks of only two resurrections.  The resurrection of the righteous is reserved for the children of God.  (John 5:28-29; Re 20:4-6)

Paragraph 14

“Yet, many of us have persevered in the ministry year after year at our own expense and despite the scorn and ridicule of thankless ones. Does that not give evidence that God’s spirit is at work in us?”

Most Witnesses will accept this as proof of God’s spirit.  I imagine that most Mormon’s would accept this same line of reasoning, as would faithful members of the Salvation Army.  The Iglesia Ni Cristo, founded over a century ago, also are active preachers.  So does this give evidence that God’s spirit is at work in them as well?

Paragraph 15

“Just think about how the preaching of the good news fits in with Jehovah’s loving purpose for humankind. He purposed that humans would inhabit the earth without ever dying; though Adam sinned, Jehovah did not change His mind. (Isa. 55:11) Instead, he arranged for humans to be delivered from condemnation to sin and death. Working along with that purpose, Jesus came to earth and sacrificed his life for obedient humans. In order to become obedient, however, they had to understand what God required of them. So Jesus also taught people what God’s requirements are, and he commanded his disciples to do the same. By helping others to become reconciled to God, we share directly in his loving arrangement to rescue mankind from sin and death.”

I’m sorry, but this is just so wrong—so very wrong!  Jesus came to earth to gather an administration. That administration is the means by which Mankind will be rescued from sin and death, but that takes place under the Messianic Kingdom, not before. (Eph 1:8-14) The sole purpose of the preaching work that Jesus began was to gather to himself those chosen ones who would form the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, the New Jerusalem.  People cannot be saved before that government is in place.  Again, the Governing Body has us running ahead of God, imagining that we are already gathering the citizenry for that government; that we are saving people!

This is all based on false reasoning going back to Rutherford’s day and founded on a fanciful interpretation that the ancient cities of refuge of Israel have some antitypical representation in the Organization of Jehovah's Witnesses.[i]

Paragraph 16

“By sharing in the preaching work, we demonstrate our obedience to these commandments.—Read Acts 10:42.”

This and the preceding paragraphs are all about getting busy in the preaching work.  There is nothing wrong with preaching the good news.  In fact, it is a requirement. But what if our preaching work is equivalent to striking the air?  (1Co 9:26)

Consider the very next verse after Acts 10:42

“To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone putting faith in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Ac 10:43)

If everyone putting faith in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins, how is it that we are preaching a message that results in the “faithful” still being considered as unrighteous even after their resurrection?  The unrighteous have not been forgiven their sins, because that forgiveness results in being declared righteous.  We are essentially saying: "Put faith in Christ and your sins will be forgiven, but only at the end of the thousand years, just like everyone else."  How then is this the "better resurrection" that Hebrews 11:35 speaks of?

Paragraph 17

“Likely, you will agree with Chantel, who lives in France. She says: 'The most powerful Person in the universe, the Creator of all things, the happy God, says to me: "Go! Speak! Speak for me, speak from your heart. I give you my strength, my Word the Bible, heavenly support, earthly companions, progressive training, and precise instructions at the appropriate time." What an immense privilege it is to do what Jehovah asks of us and to work together with our God!'”

The article closes with this thought quoted from a Witness living in France.  The message here is clear.  Working with Jehovah—not Jesus—involves working with his Organization.  We have to stay close, because Jehovah—not Jesus—tells us what to do through “precise instructions” which we will get 'progressively' “at the appropriate time” through his earthly Organization.   We cannot take God out of the picture, but we can and have usurped the authority of Jesus, by inserting the Governing Body between us and God.

But remember, they have no authority other than the authority we grant them.  If we return to Christ, he will welcome us back and will use the Holy Spirit to guide us as to what we must do.  We do not need men to tell us what to do. In fact, it will be very bad if we depend on men rather than Jesus for precise instructions, because “man has dominated man to his injury.”  (Ex 8:9)


[i] See “Going Beyond What Is Written.”

Archived Comments

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  • Comment by Menrov on 2016-03-27 10:35:29

    Thanks. There would be a lot I or others I believe can share regarding this "junk" food at the proper time. I have suggested it before on DTT: the biggest trick of Satan is to make people believe they do not need Jesus.
    Satan is not challenging the role of the Father but the role He has granted to HIs Son Jesus. If ALL things were created by Him (Jesus), it means that on instructions of His Father, Jesus created humans. No, Jesus is not the Creator but executed the instructions of His Father. If my reasoning makes any sense, Satan's first victory was with Eve and Adam. He could now say: You see, your beloved Son cannot even create obedient humans.
    Now, look at how the WBTS is treating the Christ? Does it do justice to His role? Satan is doing a not too bad job to "proclaim" a blurred message of Jesus: is he part / in the Father? Is he GOD? Is he just a prophet like Mohammed? Or is he one of the many Hindu gods? Or is he just a messenger sent by the Father? Etc.

    The above article gives a most blurry message regarding the role of Jesus. But it gives a very clear view of how one should see the role of the organization.

    It is my view that people cannot really be blamed for not knowing what to believe or have a clear view of the true message. The religious leaders in the world are accountable, it was like that in the times of the Pharisees, it is still the case.

    What hope is there? Our Leader, Christ, is righteous and can read the hearts. His Judgment will be fair and based on love. His Father is love, Christ is like the Father.

  • Comment by skepttic on 2016-03-27 15:56:58

    Good comments brothers. I have real hard time with 2 Cor. 5;20,21 NWT.
    Isn't that their definition of the Anti Christ, 'In place of Christ' and 'To appose the Christ'. Really SUBSTITUTES FOR CHRIST I have a hard time just typing this on my keyboard without shaking. I'm not a Bible scholar but reading the Christian Greek Scriptures is not the massage I get. Just to list a couple passages. Matt 28;18, Acts 4;11,12, Phil 2;9-12.
    1 Tim 2;5 And John 14;6,7 - Jesus said to him: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you men had KNOWN ME, you would have KNOWN MY FATHER also; from this moment on you know him and have seen him.
    I guess according to this and other Watchtowers Jesus sent a Discreet Slave or Governing Body NOT to talk about Jesus and what he truly stands for, Hebrews 1;3 -  He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact representation of his very being, and he sustains all things by the word of his power. And after he had made a purification for our sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. NWT

    Thank you brothers for allowing me to vent.

  • Comment by skepttic on 2016-03-27 16:33:41

    You know, I got to thinking on what Menrov said in his comment about ' blurry message regarding the role of Jesus' and it made think of 2 Cor.11;13-15 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself keeps disguising himself as an angel of light. 15 It is therefore nothing extraordinary if his ministers also keep disguising themselves as ministers of righteousness. But their end will be according to their works.

    We all need to be cautious of Religious leaders

  • Comment by pquin7 on 2016-03-27 16:41:28

    Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness[a] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. --2 Thessalonians 2: 3

  • Comment by william on 2016-03-27 17:13:18

    I think the fact that the Watchtower uses “Christ” in chapter 5 to mean “God” elsewhere is a minor part of what they are doing. The WT has trained Witnesses to interpret “field service” when they see the word “ministry.” An Aid book article on the subject (1971?) and also Watchtower article (December 1, 1975) explained that “ministry” means “service,” and does not have a the modern connotations. But the WT started using “ministry” to mean “evangelism” or “field service” again in the early 1980's. I do not understand the word “we” in 2 Corinthians the way you do or the way the Watchtower does. I think “we” = “Paul and his evangelizing associates,” including Timothy (2 Cor. 1:1; 3:6), and “you” = “the Corinthians.” I think that Paul and his fellow evangelizers corresponded to Moses, who was the minister of the old covenant (2 Cor. 3:6, 7). In other words, in my opinion, Christians are not “ambassadors substituting for Christ,” nor were the Corinthians Christians. Each person will have to read 2 Corinthians carefully and decide for himself what he believes.

  • Comment by Joshua on 2016-03-27 23:07:02

    Thank you, Meleti.

    Brother, I'm so damn tired of Watchtower I have no comment on wasted ink.


  • Comment by MarthaMartha on 2016-03-30 09:36:07

    Thank you Meleti.
    I don't know whether writing these reviews is cathartic for you or a chore... But I appreciate them very much.
    You mentioned the narrow use of 1Cor 6:1 as the theme. I'm with you in feeling irritated at the lack of contextual harmony.
    Maybe it's my increased sensitivity over the last few years, but I've noticed the tendency to cite isolated scriptures that seem to have no purpose other than to use the same word or phrase that the WT is preaching.
    I wonder whether the digital revolution has had an effect on this. It's almost as though someone in the writing committee is given a task of writing about working with God and they put a word search into the Bible app and hey presto! One solitary scripture. Never mind the context.
    Whether that is deliberate or merely slap dash research... I couldn't possibly comment.
    When I use my tablet to read or study the WT I always use the actual Bible to look up the scriptures so I can see the surrounding verses, even the whole chapter to get the full meaning.
    Those who only use the app will click the link and see only the verse that wt have picked out to "prove" their point.

    I'm grateful to you for educating me on exegesis and eisegesis , it's amazing what you notice when you know what to look for!

    Anyway, the articles on here and all the comments help me keep sane ( sort of) while I bang my head in frustration. :)

    • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2016-03-30 12:25:08

      MarthaMartha, you seem to be echoing the words of my wife. She first noticed this years back when we were studying the "Jehovah's Day" book on the minor prophets. She got progressively more irritated each week in preparation for the book study because they were using scriptures to "prove" their point whose only link to the topic at hand was the use of the same word.

      There was a time we used to make great efforts to prove our point, right or wrong though it may have been, by using the scriptures, but that technique didn't survive entry into the new millennium.

      Yes, writing is cathartic. :)

      • Reply by MarthaMartha on 2016-03-30 15:20:44

        I'm glad it's cathartic. That means you'll continue.
        Greetings to the like-minded and perceptive Mrs Meleti. :)

  • Comment by Brooklynboy on 2016-03-30 16:30:42

    The GB instruct us to be obedient to the Elders, those taking the lead. I find this impossible when we're these very ones disobey Christ explicit command to, "keep doing this, (partaking of the emblems), in remembrance of me."

  • Comment by Leonardo Josephus on 2016-03-31 10:52:44

    Meliti, your articles are excellently put together. You clearly have, as no doubt many on this site have, a great love of truth. However, on this occasion I am not sure some of your criticism of WT over 2 Cor 6:1 is fully founded. Some translations on Bible gateway often come out as "working together with God". And a lot of translations use "him" rather than God, which of course is better, as the word "God" is not in the Greek text. Some just use the phrase "working together", which also seems accurate (but my Greek is not good enough to confirm this). I noted Matthew Henry acknowledges the working to be with God, rather than Jesus. If the "him" is not in the Greek, you appear to be on your own in linking 2 Cor 6:1 with vs 21 of chapter 5. On the other hand, if "with him" should be in vs 1 then why have others not linked up the
    thought ? or if they have, can you tell me if anyone else has reached your conclusion. Of course, you may just have picked up a very interesting point, which would not surprise me in view of the depths you clearly go to.

    • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2016-03-31 11:59:54

      You raise an interesting point; one worthy of further research. There are a number of texts in the Christian Scriptures were it is truly difficult to distinguish Jesus from Jehovah in the sense of who is being specifically referred to. I think that in such cases, the point is that for the intents of the verse, they are meant to be indistinguishable. By obeying Jesus, we obey Jehovah; by submitting to Jesus, we submit to Jehovah; by putting faith in Jesus, we put faith in Jehovah. However, the reverse is not the case, which is the point our dear brothers on the Governing Body seem to miss. They focus so much on Jehovah they end up doing an end run around our Lord, the very one Jehovah appointed for us to go through to get to him. There is no other way to God except through Jesus, but the Organizations constant emphasis on themselves and God to the virtual exclusion of Jesus makes it appear that they want us to go through them to get to Jehovah.

    • Reply by Menrov on 2016-04-01 07:00:18

      Hi LJ, I checked site and HIM or WITH HIM or GOD or WITH GOD does not seem to be In the Greek texts. However, it is not uncommon that translators add a word when they "believe" the insertion makes the reading better or easier. And with BELIEVE I mean that the translator can use or misuse his freedom to add or remove words. Personally I like the rendering in NET: Now because we are fellow workers, we also urge ....etc
      The word FELLOW WORKERS is not in the Greek text but as Paul is addressing a group, I can see this rendering to make sense, also as these fellow workers (incl. Paul) are ambassadors for Christ, they do not work WITH Jesus nor with his Father but together FOR Christ.

      • Reply by Joshua on 2016-04-02 18:05:11

        Young's Literal Translation nicely cleans up the verse:

        "And working together also we call upon you that ye receive not in vain the grace of God--"

        The context points to God not Christ.

        Who is "working" in the verses just previous to 6:1?

        2Co 5:18 And the all things are of God, who reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and did give to us the ministration of the reconciliation,

        2Co 5:19 how that God was in Christ--a world reconciling to Himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses; and having put in us the word of the reconciliation,

        2Co 5:20 in behalf of Christ, then, we are ambassadors, as if God were calling through us, we beseech, in behalf of Christ, Be ye reconciled to God;'

        2Co 5:21 for him who did not know sin, in our behalf He did make sin, that we may become the righteousness of God in him.

        God "reconciled us", he gave us the "ministration of the reconciliation", he "put in us the word of the reconciliation", God calls out through us and in behalf of Christ to "Be ye reconciled to God". God made his son to be sin for us that we may be reconciled to God, become the righteousness of God in Christ.

        In the verses above it is God who is "working", it is God who is reconciling, it is God who makes us as ambassadors in behalf of Christ.

        Therefore, as we continue the writer's line of thought it is plain he is saying we are working with God.

        Note the word "also" in 6:1, we work together ALSO with the One whose works are being discussed in the previous verses, the One whom the writer immediately quotes in verse 2 below.

        2Co 6:1 And working together also we call upon you that ye receive not in vain the grace of God--

        2Co 6:2 for He saith,
        In an acceptable time I did hear thee, and in a day of salvation I did help thee, lo, now is a well-accepted time; lo, now, a day of salvation,' --

        2Co 6:3 in nothing giving any cause of offence, that the ministration may be not blamed,

        2Co 6:4 but in everything recommending ourselves as God's ministrants; in much patience, in tribulations, in necessities, in distresses,

        The context shows that in this instance God is being referred not Christ.

        • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2016-04-02 18:30:12

          That does seem to be a reasonable conclusion.

  • Comment by Leonardo Josephus on 2016-03-31 10:59:38

    Further to my earlier comment, I listened to the memorial talk last week. There were so few references to Jesus, I was embarrassed for the individuals who turned up for the first time. I listened intently for our speaker to include some proof that the only ones going to heaven were the anointed. But nothing came. For such an important part of the talk, the scriptures were simply avoided. And so little about Jesus. Why ?
    It is worrying. So you are spot on in pointing to this continual downgrading of our future King.

  • Comment by Mowani on 2016-04-02 04:07:35

    Thank you Meleti for this revealing article.
    I agree that the role of Jesus Christ is constantly downplayed. You say that the context of 2. Cor. 6:1 points to Jesus as beeing the one we work together in the work of reconciliation. That is correct for sure. He is the one who was given the task of reconciliation, we work in his behalf, so working together with him. However, one could argue, that since God gave the task, we are also working together with God. In this instance it does not seem completely wrong.
    But you are right in general the Watchtower does downplay Jesus' role and it uses also this article to do that.

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