In Part 1, we considered the interpretation of Acts 5:42 and 20:20 and meaning of the term “house to house” and concluded:
- How JWs come to the interpretation of “house to house” from the Bible and that the statements made by the Organization could not be justified scripturally.
- It is clear that “house to house” does not mean “door to door”. By considering the other occurrences of the Greek words, the contextual indication was that the meaning of “house to house” refers to new believers meeting in different homes to study the scriptures and the teachings of the apostles.
In this article, we will examine scholarly sources cited by the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses in an attempt to support JW theology. These appear in the New World Translation Reference Bible 1984 (NWT) and the Revised New World Translation (RNWT) Study Bible 2018, where five reference sources are mentioned in the footnotes to Acts 5:42 and 20:20.
“House to House” – Scholarly Support?
The RNWT Study Bible 2018 is the most recent Bible published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WTBTS). When comparing the footnotes on the above two verses with the NWT Reference 1984 Bible, we find four additional scholarly references. The only one in the NWT Reference Bible 1984 is from R.C.H Lenski. We will focus on the five references from the RNWT Study Bible 2018 as these include the one from Lenski. They will be dealt with as they arise in Acts 5:42 followed by 20:20.
We find the following in the reference section on Acts 5:42
(sic) “from house to house: This expression translates the Greek phrase katʼ oiʹkon, literally, “according to house.” Several lexicons and commentators state that the Greek preposition ka·taʹ can be understood in a distributive sense. For example, one lexicon says that the phrase refers to “places viewed serially, distributive use . . . from house to house.” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Third Edition) Another reference says that the preposition ka·taʹ is “distributive (Acts 2:46; 5:42: . . . house to house/in the [individual] houses.” (Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by Horst Balz and Gerhard Schneider) Bible scholar R.C.H. Lenski made the following comment: “Never for a moment did the apostles cease their blessed work. ‘Every day’ they continued, and this openly ‘in the Temple’ where the Sanhedrin and the Temple police could see and hear them, and, of course, also κατ’ οἴκον, which is distributive, ‘from house to house,’ and not merely adverbial, ‘at home.’” (The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles, 1961) These sources support the sense that the disciples’ preaching was distributed from one house to another. A similar use of ka·taʹ occurs at Lu 8:1, where Jesus is said to have preached “from city to city and from village to village.” This method of reaching people by going directly to their homes brought outstanding results.—Ac 6:7; compare Ac 4:16, 17; 5:28.”
It is worth noting the last two sentences. The penultimate sentence states “A similar use of ka·taʹ occurs at Lu 8:1 where Jesus is said to have preached “from city to city and from village to village.” This clearly means that Jesus went from place to place.
The final sentence states, “This method of reaching people by going directly to their homes brought outstanding results. — Ac 6:7; compare Ac 4:16-17; 5:28”. Here a conclusion is reached based on the foregoing verses. It is useful to briefly consider these scriptures from the Study Bible.
- Acts 6:7 “Consequently, the word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples kept multiplying very much in Jerusalem; and a large crowd of priests began to be obedient to the faith.”
- Acts 4:16-17 “saying: ‘What should we do with these men? Because, for a fact, a noteworthy sign has occurred through them, one evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. So that this does not spread any further among the people, let us threaten them and tell them not to speak to anyone anymore on the basis of this name.'”
- Acts 5:28 “and said: ‘We strictly ordered you not to keep teaching on the basis of this name, and yet look! you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you are determined to bring the blood of this man upon us.’”
Upon reading these verses it is clear that “house to house” is not mentioned. Being in Jerusalem, the best way to reach people would be at the temple. This was considered in Part 1, under the section: “Comparison of Greek words translated ‘house to house’”. The use of the “house to house” method as the way the early disciples preached cannot be drawn from these verses.
We also find the following in the reference section on Acts 20:20:
(sic) “from house to house: Or “in different houses.” The context shows that Paul had visited the houses of these men to teach them “about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.” (Ac 20:21) Therefore, he is not referring solely to social calls or visits to encourage fellow Christians after they became believers, since fellow believers would already have repented and exercised faith in Jesus. In his book Word Pictures in the New Testament, Dr. A. T. Robertson comments as follows on Ac 20:20: “It is worth noting that this greatest of preachers preached from house to house and did not make his visits merely social calls.” (1930, Vol. III, pp. 349-350) In The Acts of the Apostles With a Commentary (1844), Abiel Abbot Livermore made this comment on Paul’s words at Ac 20:20: “He was not content merely to deliver discourses in the public assembly . . . but zealously pursued his great work in private, from house to house, and literally carried home the truth of heaven to the hearths and hearts of the Ephesians.” (p. 270)—For an explanation of rendering the Greek expression katʼ oiʹkous (lit., “according to houses”), see study note on Ac 5:42.”
We will address each reference in context and consider whether these scholars agree on the interpretation of “house to house” and “door to door” as expounded by JW Theology.
Acts 5:42 References
- A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Third Edition (BDAG)revised and edited by Frederick William Danker[i]
The Study Bible commentary on Acts 5:42 states “For example, one lexicon says that the phrase refers to “places viewed serially, distributive use . . . from house to house.”
Let’s look at the fuller context. In the lexicon kata is covered comprehensively and fills the equal of seven A4 pages with a font size of 12. The specific quote taken in part is given below but including the full section. It is under the subheading of “marker of spatial aspect” and the 4th subsection d. The sections quoted in the Study Bible are highlighted in red.
“of places viewed serially, distributive use w. acc., x by x (Arrian., Anab. 4, 21, 10 κ. σκηνήν=tent by tent) or from x to x: κατʼ οἶκον from house to house (PLond III, 904, 20 p. 125 [104 a.d.] ἡ κατʼ οἰκίαν ἀπογραφή) Ac 2:46b; 5:42 (both in ref. to various house assemblies or congregations; w. less probability NRSV ‘at home’); cp. 20:20. Likew. the pl. κ. τοὺς οἴκους εἰσπορευόμενος 8:3. κ. τὰς συναγωγάς 22:19. κ. πόλιν (Jos., Ant. 6, 73) from city to city IRo 9:3, but in every (single) city Ac 15:21; 20:23; Tit 1:5. Also κ. πόλιν πᾶσαν (cp. Herodian 1, 14, 9) Ac 15:36; κ. πᾶσαν πόλιν 20:23 D. κ. πόλιν καὶ κώμην Lk 8:1; cp. vs. 4.”[ii]
Here we have only a partial quote which seems to support JW theology. However, when reading in context, it becomes clear that the author’s view is that the term refers to congregations or assemblies meeting in various houses. They clearly refer to all three verses in Acts 2:46, 5:42 and 20:20. To preserve intellectual honesty, the quote should have included at least the following:
“… κατʼ οἶκον from house to house (PLond III, 904, 20 p. 125 [104 a.d.] ἡ κατʼ οἰκίαν ἀπογραφή) Ac 2:46b; 5:42 (both in ref. to various house assemblies or congregations; w. less probability NRSV ‘at home’); cp. 20:20. Likew. the pl. κ. τοὺς οἴκους εἰσπορευόμενος:
This would help the reader draw a clearer view of the author’s perspective. Clearly, this reference source does not support the JW understanding of “house to house”. In fact, the source is demonstrating how the word kata is used in “house to house”, “city to city” etc.
- Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by Horst Balz and Gerhard Schneider
In Acts 5:42 the following is stated “Another reference says that the preposition ka·taʹ is “distributive (Acts 2:46; 5:42: . . . house to house/in the [individual] houses.” This quote is taken from the above dictionary. The dictionary provides a very detailed breakdown of the use and meaning of the word kata in the New Testament. It begins by providing a definition and covers three specific areas of usage, subdivided into various categories.
(sic) κατά kata with gen.: down from; through; against; by; with acc.: through; during; by; according to
- Occurrences in the NT — 2. With the gen. — a) Of place — b) Fig. use — 3. With the acc. — a) Of place — b) Of time — c) Fig. use — d) Periphrastic alternative to the simple gen.[iii]
The Study Bible reference is in section 3 a) Of place. This is given below with the RNWT quote in highlights. (Sic)
- With the accusative:
- a) Of place: throughout, over, in, at (Luke 8:39: “throughout the entire city / in the entire city”; 15:14: “throughout that land”; Matt 24:7: κατὰ τόπους, “at [many] places”; Acts 11:1: “throughout Judea / in Judea”; 24:14: “everything that stands in the law”), along, alongside (Acts 27:5: τὸ πέλαγος τὸ κατὰ τὴν Κιλικίαν, “the sea along [the coast of] Cilicia”), to, toward, up to (Luke 10:32: “come up to the place; Acts 8:26: “toward the south”; Phil 3:14: “toward the goal”; Gal 2:11, etc.: κατὰ πρόσωπον, “to the face,” “face to face,” “personally,” “in the face of,” “before”; 2 Cor 10:7: τὰ κατὰ πρόσωπον, “what lies before the eyes”; Gal 3:1: κατʼ ὀφθαλμούς, “before the eyes”), for, by (Rom 14:22: κατὰ σεαυτόν, “for yourself, by yourself”; Acts 28:16: μένειν καθʼ ἑαυτόν, “stay alone by himself”; Mark 4:10: κατὰ μόνας, “for oneself alone”), distributive (Acts 2:46; 5:42: κατʼ οἶκον, “house to house / in the [individual] houses”; 15:21, etc.: κατὰ πόλιν, “city by city / in [every] city”).[iv]
The section quoted in the RNWT is highlighted in red. In this area, the reference work states that it is distributive. This does not mean “door to door” to include every home. Consider Acts 15:21 given by the dictionary. In the RNWT it reads “For from ancient times* Moses has had those who preach him in city after city, because he is read aloud in the synagogues on every sabbath.” In this setting, the preaching is done in a public place (synagogue). Jews, Proselytes and “God-Fearers” would all come to the synagogue and hear the message. Can this be extended to every house in the city or even to every house of those who attend the synagogue? Clearly not.
In a similar vein, “house to house/in the individual houses” cannot be extended to mean every house. In Acts 2:46, it clearly cannot mean every house in Jerusalem, as it would mean that they were eating at every house! It could be some of the houses of the believers where they congregated as the context of the scripture makes clear. This has been discussed in Part 1. To give a separate meaning for Acts 5:42 when the context does not warrant it would imply eisegesis. This takes a person on a journey of trying to justify an existing belief.
The quote used is valid but providing the fuller paragraph would help the reader make a more considered determination of meaning. It does not provide a basis for interpreting it as every house in Jerusalem.
- The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles, 1961 by R.C.H. Lenski[v]
The RNWT Study Bible states: “Bible scholar R.C.H. Lenski made the following comment: “Never for a moment did the apostles cease their blessed work. ‘Every day’ they continued, and this openly ‘in the Temple’ where the Sanhedrin and the Temple police could see and hear them, and, of course, also κατ’ οἴκον, which is distributive, ‘from house to house,’ and not merely adverbial, ‘at home.’””
The full quote on Acts 5:42 in “Lenski’s Commentary on the New Testament” states the following (the section quoted in the Study Bible are highlighted in yellow):
Never for a moment did the apostles cease their blessed work. “Every day” they continued, and this openly “in the Temple” where the Sanhedrin and the Temple police could see and hear them, and, of course, also κατʼ οἶκον, which is distributive, “from house to house,” and not merely adverbial, “at home.” They continued to fill Jerusalem from center to circumference with the Name. They scorned to work only in secret. They knew no fear. The imperfect, “they were not ceasing,” with its complementary present participles is still descriptive, and “were not ceasing” (negative) is a litotes for “were ever continuing.” The first participle, “teaching,” is made more specific by the second, “proclaiming as good news Jesus the Christ”; τὸν Χριστόν is predicative: “as the Christ.” Here we have the first instance of εὑαγγελίζεσθαι in the Acts in the full sense of preaching the gospel, and with it the mighty name “Jesus” and its full significance in “the Christ,” the Messiah of God (2:36). This “name” fittingly closes the present narrative. This was the opposite of indecision. This was the divinely wrought certainty that had long ago made the final decision. This was the joy that came from that certainty. The apostles never for a moment complained of the injustice they had suffered at the hands of the authorities; they did not boast of their own courage and fortitude or concern themselves about defending their personal honor against the shame inflicted on them. If they thought of themselves at all, it was only that they might prove faithful to the Lord by working for the honor of his great blessed Name. All else they committed into his hands.
The quote used in the RNWT is again red and in fuller context. Once again, the commentator makes no explicit statement that supports the JW theology on the “door to door” ministry. As this is a verse-by-verse commentary on Acts of the Apostles, it would be interesting to read the comments on Acts 2:46 and 20:20. The full commentary on Acts 2:46 states:
Day by day both continuing steadfast with one accord in the Temple and breaking bread house by house, they were partaking of their food in exultation and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with the whole people. Moreover, the Lord kept adding together day by day the saved. The descriptive imperfects continue. Luke sketches the daily life of the first congregation. The three κατά phrases are distributive: “day by day,” “house by house”; τε … τε correlate the first two participles (R. 1179), “both … and.” The believers both visited the Temple and broke bread house by house at home. The daily visits to the Temple were made for the purpose of participation in the Temple worship; we see Peter and John thus engaged in 3:1. The separation from the Temple and the Jews generally developed gradually and naturally. Until it was effected, the Christians used the Temple which Jesus had honored and which typified him (John 2:19-21) as they had used it before. Its spacious colonnades and halls afforded them room for their own assemblies.
Many think that “breaking bread” again refers to the Sacrament, but in a brief sketch such as this Luke would scarcely repeat in this fashion. The addition “house by house” would add nothing new since it is self-evident that the Temple was not the place for the Sacrament. “Breaking bread” also refers to all the meals and not merely to such as might precede the Sacrament as an agape. “House by house” is like “day by day.” It does not mean merely “at home” but in each home. Wherever there was a Christian home its residents partook of their food “in exultation of heart,” with high delight in the grace vouchsafed them, and “in simplicity or singleness of heart,” rejoicing in the one thing that filled their hearts with such joy. This noun is derived from an adjective which means “without a stone,” hence perfectly smooth and even, metaphorically, a condition that is undisturbed by anything contrary.
The second paragraph clearly provides Lenski’s understanding of the term. The full commentary is self-explanatory. Lenski does not interpret “house to house” as going to every door but rather as referring to the homes of the believers.
Moving onto the commentary on Acts 20:20, it states;
Ὡς parallels the πῶς occurring in v. 18. First, the Lord in Paul’s work; secondly, the Lord’s Word, Paul’s work of teaching. His one motive and sole purpose was not to conceal or to hold back a single thing of all that was profitable to his hearers. He never tried to save himself or to seek the slightest advantage for himself. It is so easy just to keep still on some points; one may even hide his real motive from himself when doing so and persuade himself that he is following the promptings of wisdom. “I did not shrink,” Paul says, and that is the correct word. For we naturally shrink when we anticipate hurt or loss as the result of what we ought to teach and preach.
The infinitive with τοῦ is the ablative after a verb of hindering, denying, etc., and the negative μή is retained although it is not necessary, R. 1094. Note the two infinitives: “from proclaiming and from teaching,” both are effective aorists, the one referring to announcements, the other to instructions, both “in public and from house to house,” Paul using every opportunity.
Again, no conclusion can be drawn from these two paragraphs that support the JW interpretation of “house to house”. Drawing on all comments on all three verses, it becomes clear that Lenski seems to think the “house to house” means at the homes of believers.
Let us consider the two commentaries in the notes on Acts 20:20 in the RNWT Study Bible 2018. These are the 4th and 5th references.
Acts 20:20 references
- Word Pictures in the New Testament, Dr. A. T. Robertson (1930, Vol. III, pp. 349-350)[vi]
Here the quote from Word Pictures in the New Testament, Dr. A. T. Robertson comments as follows on Ac 20:20: “It is worth noting that this greatest of preachers preached from house to house and did not make his visits merely social calls.”
This appears to show that Dr Robertson supports the JW view, but let us consider the complete paragraph with the RNWT quote highlighted in red. We are not quoting all the paragraphs on the verse but the one pertaining to “house to house”. It states “Publicly (δημοσιαι — dēmosiāi adverb) and from house to house (και κατ οικους — kai kat’ oikous). By (according to) houses. It is worth noting that this greatest of preachers preached from house to house and did not make his visits merely social calls. He was doing kingdom business all the while as in the house of Aquila and Priscilla (1 Corinthians 16:19).”
The sentence that follows, omitted by WTBTS is critical. It shows that Dr. Robertson views “house to house” as meeting in a home congregation as shown by 1 Corinthians 16:19. The complete meaning changes by leaving out the last sentence. It is impossible to draw any other conclusion. The reader must wonder, was the leaving out of the last sentence an oversight on the part of the researcher? Or is this point so theologically important that the researcher(s)/writer(s) were all blinded by eisegesis? As Christians, we must demonstrate kindness, but this oversight could be viewed also as a deliberate omission to mislead. Each reader must decide that for themselves. Let us keep in mind the following from 1 Corinthians 13:7-8a as each of us decides.
“It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.”
Let us consider the final reference.
- The Acts of the Apostles With a Commentary (1844), Abiel Abbot Livermore[vii]
In the footnote to Acts 20:20 a quote is made from the above scholar. In The Acts of the Apostles With a Commentary (1844), Abiel Abbot Livermore made this comment on Paul’s words at Ac 20:20: “He was not content merely to deliver discourses in the public assembly . . . but zealously pursued his great work in private, from house to house, and literally carried home the truth of heaven to the hearths and hearts of the Ephesians.” (p. 270) Please see the full reference with the WTBTS quote highlighted in red:
Acts 20:20, 21 Kept back nothing. His aim was not to preach what they liked, but what they needed, – the true model of a preacher of righteousness. – From house to house. He was not content merely to deliver discourses in the public assembly, and dispense with other instrumentalities, but zealously pursued his great work in private, from house to house, and literally carried home the truth of heaven to the hearths and hearts of the Ephesians.— Both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks. The same doctrine essentially was needed by one as by the other. Their sins might assume different forms, but the interior purification and spiritualization of the character were to be effected by the same celestial agency, whether in the case of the formalist and bigot, or the sensualist and idolater. — Repentance toward God. Some critics view this as the peculiar duty of the Gentiles, to turn from their idolatry to the faith and worship of one God; but repentance would seem to cover all that ground, and more, and to be imperative on the erring Jew as well as on the heathen; for all had sinned, and come short of the glory of God. — Faith toward our Lord, &c. So of faith; it was the part of a consistent Jew to believe in the Messiah, whom his lawgiver and prophets had predicted for a thousand years, – to welcome the nearer and tenderer revelation of God in his Son; yet the Gentile also was required not only to turn from the polluted shrines of idolatry to the worship of the Most High, but to draw nigh to the Saviour of the world. The majestic simplicity of the apostle’s preaching, and the total emphasis which he threw upon the chief doctrines and duties of the gospel, ought not to pass unobserved.
Again, it becomes clear that based on this part of the commentary it is not possible to draw the conclusion that Abiel Abbot Livermore understood this to mean “door to door”. If we examine his comments in Acts 2:46 and 5:42, we get a clearer view of his understanding of “house to house”. In Acts 2:46 he states:
“We have, in this and the following verse, a continued picture of the beauty and spiritual vitality of the early church. What author of fact or fiction has presented a more interesting history of a happy community than the Christian evangelist — a community to which every man, in his right senses, would more desire to join himself—or in which all the elements of love, and peace, and progress, are more thoroughly combined 2 Cannot society, nations, mankind, be brought, finally, to fulfil the exquisite promise of this long departed age, and restore, as it were, the old painting to the reality of new life? The highest form of Christian civilization is yet to appear, but the dawn has broken from the east. — Continuing daily with one accord in the temple. They probably attended the worship in the temple at the usual hours of prayer, of nine in the morning and three in the afternoon. Acts iii. 1. They had not yet shaken themselves free of the Jewish yoke, and they rightly retained some fealty to the old faith in their adoption of, and assimilation with, the new one; as naturalists tell us that the old leaf does not fall to the ground, until the new bud begins to swell underneath it. — Breaking bread from house to house. Or, “at home,” in contradistinction to their exercises in the temple. The same occasions are referred to here as in ver. 42. The character of the repast was that of a social entertainment, united with a religious commemoration. Acts xx. 7. It is said that the agapae, or love-feasts, arose from the necessity of providing for the poor, who had formerly lived on the sacrifices; but who, after their conversion, were cut off by their faith from this source of support. — Their meat. Old English for “food.” whether animal or vegetable. — With gladness. Some discern, in this phrase, the joy of the poor for the bounty so generously afforded. —Singleness of heart. And in these words is seen the simplicity and freedom from pride and ostentation of the rich in their benevolence. But the expressions are general, rather than limited to classes, and describe at once the purity of motive, and the elastic spirit of joy, pervading the new association. We have here a description of the influence which true religion, truly received and obeyed, has upon its subjects.”
Acts 2:46 can only mean at the homes of believers. This is also supported by the Study and Reference Bibles translations as at home. Now moving onto his comments in Acts 5:41-42, we see the following:
“The council. Comprising, as it would seem, the Sanhedrin and others called in on the occasion. — Rejoicing that they were accounted worthy, &c. Though they had been most ignominiously treated, they accounted it no disgrace, but an honor, to suffer in so great a cause; for they were partakers of similar sufferings as their Master before them. Phil. iii. 10; Col. i. 24; 1 Pet. iv. 13. — In every house. Or, “from house to house,” for such is the idiom of the Greek. Instead of damping their courage, their trials enkindled new zeal in the diffusion of truth. Instead of obeying men, they betook themselves with new fidelity and interest to obeying God. — Teach and preach. The one referring, probably, to their public labors, the other to their private instructions; the one to what they did in the temple, the other to what they did from house to house.—Jesus Christ, i.e. according to the best translators, they preached Jesus the Christ, or that Jesus is the Christ, or Messiah. Thus triumphantly closes this new record of the persecution of the apostles. The whole narration is luminous with truth and reality, and cannot but leave a deep impression upon every unprejudiced reader of the divine origin and authority of the gospel.”
Interestingly, he refers to the term “house to house” as an idiom. Therefore, he understands this term as peculiar to first century Christians. He then states they were teaching and preaching, one publicly and the other in private. Since the Greek word for preaching refers to a public proclamation, the natural conclusion is that this was done publicly, and the teaching would have been in private. Please see the meaning of the term from Strong’s dictionary below:
g2784. κηρύσσω kēryssō; of uncertain affinity; to herald (as a public crier), especially divine truth (the gospel): — preacher(-er), proclaim, publish.
AV (61) – preach 51, publish 5, proclaim 2, preached + g2258 2, preacher 1;
- to be a herald, to officiate as a herald
- to proclaim after the manner of a herald
- always with the suggestion of formality, gravity and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed
- to publish, proclaim openly: something which has been done
- used of the public proclamation of the gospel and matters pertaining to it, made by John the Baptist, by Jesus, by the apostles and other Christian teachers…
JW theology applies the term preaching work to the “house to house” ministry. In this work, the understanding is to find “rightly disposed” ones and to offer a bible study programme. This clearly is not the understanding of Livermore.
An interpretation could be to proclaim in a public place, and for those interested, a study programme in their homes. This understanding would immediately negate the “door to door” understanding that JW theology applies to this term. All things considered, the more likely understanding is they met at private homes for congregational instruction. Once again on analysing another scholar’s work in depth the JW theological conclusion becomes untenable.
Having examined all five reference sources, we may draw the following conclusions:
- In every case, the reference sources and the scholars associated clearly do not agree with the JW theology on “house to house”.
- In fact, considering comments on all three verses, Acts 2:46, 5:42 and 20:20, the view is that it refers to meetings of believers in homes.
- WTBTS publications are very selective in their quoting from these sources. These sources are viewed by WTBTS as the equal of “expert testimony” in a court of law. It gives readers the impression that they support JW theology. Therefore, readers are misled on the thoughts of the authors of these reference sources. In every case, the “expert testimony” actually undermines the JW interpretation of “house to house”
- There is the issue from Dr Robertson’s work where the research was very poor, or it was a deliberate attempt to mislead the readers.
- All of this bear the hallmarks of eisegesis, where the authors are desperate to support a particular dogma.
- Another interesting observation: the fact that all these scholars (expert testimony) are viewed by JWs as being part of Christendom. JW theology teaches that they are apostate and do Satan’s bidding. This means that JWs are referencing those who follow Satan. It is another contradiction in the theology of JWs and that requires a separate study.
We have one further and most important line of evidence to explore. This would be the Bible book, Acts of the Apostles. This is the earliest record of the nascent faith and the focus in the book is the 30-year journey of the “Good News about Jesus” travelling from Jerusalem, the birthplace of the Christian movement, to the most important city of that time, Rome. We need to see if the accounts in Acts support the “house to house” interpretation. This will be considered in Part 3.
Click here to view Part 3 of this series.
[i] Frederick William Danker (July 12, 1920 – February 2, 2012) was a noted New Testament scholar and the pre-eminent Koine Greek lexicographer for two generations, working with F. Wilbur Gingrich as an editor of the Bauer Lexicon starting in 1957 until the publication of the second edition in 1979, and as the only editor from 1979 until the publication of the 3rd edition, updating it with the results of modern scholarship, converting it to SGML to allow it to be easily published in electronic formats, and significantly improving the usability of the lexicon, as well as the typography.
[ii] ⓓ of places viewed serially, distributive use w. acc., x by x (Arrian., Anab. 4, 21, 10 κ. σκηνήν=tent by tent) or from x to x: κατʼ οἶκον from house to house (PLond III, 904, 20 p. 125 [104 a.d.] ἡ κατʼ οἰκίαν ἀπογραφή) Ac 2:46b; 5:42 (both in ref. to various house assemblies or congregations; w. less probability NRSV ‘at home’); cp. 20:20. Likew. the pl. κ. τοὺς οἴκους εἰσπορευόμενος 8:3. κ. τὰς συναγωγάς 22:19. κ. πόλιν (Jos., Ant. 6, 73) from city to city IRo 9:3, but in every (single) city Ac 15:21; 20:23; Tit 1:5. Also κ. πόλιν πᾶσαν (cp. Herodian 1, 14, 9) Ac 15:36; κ. πᾶσαν πόλιν 20:23 D. κ. πόλιν καὶ κώμην Lk 8:1; cp. vs. 4.
[iii] Balz, H. R., & Schneider, G. (1990–). Exegetical dictionary of the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 253). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans.
[iv] Balz, H. R., & Schneider, G. (1990–). Exegetical dictionary of the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 253). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans.
[v] R. C. H. Lenski (1864–1936) was a distinguished Lutheran scholar and commentator. He studied at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, and upon earning his Doctor of Divinity became dean of the seminary. He also served as a professor at Capital Seminary (now Trinity Lutheran Seminary) in Columbus, Ohio, where he taught exegesis, dogmatics, and homiletics. His numerous books and commentaries are written from a conservative Lutheran perspective. Lenski authored Lenski’s Commentary on the New Testament, a 12-volume series of commentaries that provides a literal translation of the New Testament.
[vi] Dr A.T. Robertson was born at Cherbury near Chatham, Virginia. He was educated at Wake Forest (N. C.) College (1885) and at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), Louisville, Kentucky (Th. M., 1888), where he was thereafter instructor and professor of New Testament interpretation, and remained in that post until one day in 1934.
[vii] Rev Abiel Abbot Livermore was clergyman, born in 1811 and died in 1892. He wrote commentaries on the New Testament.
[…] Click here to view Part 2 of this series. […]
Dear Eric, I just found your YouTube channel, and from their found this website! Congratulations and a very loving review of JW.org and their erroneous teachings. I have never been a Witness, but have a great heart for them and try my best to be both warm towards them but equally challenging on theology and them knowing the real Christ. Just to note, the second in your Ministry Method series is missing from the listing. It can be found by searching for “ministry method” but I thought you would want to know that it is missing from the list for… Read more »
Hi Eric, Its nice to hear from you, the reason why I asked that question about your wife, is the saying “together we stand divided we fall”. Sometimes in life that’s not how things turn out, but isn’t it better to stay and win over the spouse if possible, by using the bible, rather than throw in the towel and completely cut off all spiritual communications with family members? Jesus stayed behind, why? Maybe he had his reasons. That’s for each one to decide, after all each one is enticed and drawn out by our own desires. The reason I… Read more »
Hello JB, (Eric, I hope you don’t mind me jumping in) I would like to take a few minutes to address some of your concerns that you just brought up. First, you seem to think that Jim is “painting an illusion” that leaving the Org is an easy thing to do. After reading Jim’s account, that’s not my takeaway. In fact, I can feel his love for his family by setting an example in showing love of the Christ, first and foremost. It may be difficult for his family to process now, but hopefully his example will affect his family… Read more »
This article was sent to me by a friend regarding preaching I hope its simple enough to enjoy: Jesus commissioned His followers to make disciples of all nations, baptising them into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything He had commanded (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15). The Great Commission is not an option – it’s a mandate. If only more Christians were as prepared to share the good news as the Jehovah’s Witnesses are to promote their teachings! But is door-to-door evangelism the way? How did Jesus and His disciples go… Read more »
“Eric, please tell me or refresh my memory as to why did you remain JW until the passing of your dear wife?” I’m not sure why you are curious about this, but to answer your question and clear up the false premise on which it is based: My wife died on February 4, 2017. I stopped attending meetings in the spring of 2015. My wife stopped attending in October of 2015. The last thing she told her brother who is still in the Organization was that she had accepted the Christ and had been partaking of the emblems. JamesBrown, your… Read more »
Eleasar and Gogetter, Thanks so much for the contribution. Yes it is an excellent article, a comprehensive scholarly one at that! Very deeply researched and very nesesary if we want to get to the crux of the matter. Gogetter, I enjoyed your analysis of the material as what said is realistic. So in reading the article by Eleasar and Gogetters comments one gets a rounded out view of how it actually is. In my own case I am now Pomo having resigned as an elder mid 2016 after 38 yrs. I don’t really miss the door to door work even… Read more »
Eleasar Very impressive research and I appreciate this and the previous article that must have taken an immense amount of your time and I thank you for all your scholarly work with each of your articles. In my humble opinion most of Jehovah’s Witnesses active or out would not begin to be able to completely digest this (myself included) and be able to relay this to someone else, in other words your scholarly work is way over most of our heads. Lol That being said I respectfully ask what is your main objective in pointing out that the Organization can’t… Read more »
Hi Gogetter, This series is developed to be prepared to deal with JWs who claim that only JWs do the ministry and by this, they mean the “door to door” ministry. This is often used as a back up to when they can see the problems with some teachings but equate the organisation and its focus on “door to door” ministry as the “Apostolic Method”. I have provided JW references in part 1 of this series. To support this they take Acts 5:42 and 20:20 and give an interpretation of “house to house” to mean “door to door”. In this… Read more »
Glad to note that you resigned as an elder, as I did a while back. Far better than the alternative.
God bless, and thanks for the article, even if it was rather heavy . But it makes the point.