“Above all the things that you guard, safeguard your heart.”—Proverbs 4:23
[From ws 01/19 p.14 Study Article 3: March 18-24]
After highlighting how a good physical diet helps us keep healthy, paragraph 5 states: “Likewise, to keep ourselves in good spiritual condition, we must choose a healthy diet of spiritual food and regularly exercise our faith in Jehovah. That form of exercise involves applying what we learn and speaking about our faith. (Rom. 10:8-10; Jas. 2:26)”
Clearly, Romans 10:8-10 is cited to promote the preaching work according to the teachings of the Organization. However, while perhaps they intend James 2:26 as a backup to their requirement to preach, preach, preach, the context of James 2:26 shows that this is a misapplication. The verse says “Indeed, as the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” So, what kind of works are we talking about? The context helps us. James 2:25 discusses how Rahab was declared righteous by works. What were they? “She had received the messengers hospitably and sent them out by another way”. Note, it was hospitality and assistance to the Israelite spies to escape with their lives.
What about Romans 10:8-10? Does it really support preaching as taught by the Organization? First, let us consider the backdrop to the Apostle Paul writing to the Romans in circa 56 AD from Corinth. Insight on the Scriptures Volume 2, p862 correctly states, “It is obvious that his purpose was to settle the differences in viewpoint between Jewish and Gentile Christians and to bring them toward complete unity as one man in Christ Jesus.”
Secondly, Paul in Romans is quoting from Deuteronomy 30:11-14 where it reads, “For this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it far away. It is not in the heavens, so as to result in saying, ‘Who will ascend for us into the heavens and get it for us, that he may let us hear it that we may do it?’ Neither is it on the other side of the sea, so as to result in saying, ‘Who will pass over for us to the other side of the sea and get it for us, that he may let us hear it that we may do it?’ 14 For the word is very near you, in your own mouth and in your own heart, that you may do it.”
These points will help us to understand if the NWT has translated the passage in Romans correctly.
Romans 10:6-8 says “But the righteousness resulting from faith speaks in this manner: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ that is, to bring Christ down; or, ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.” But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your own mouth and in your own heart”; that is, the “word” of faith, which we are preaching.”
The Greek word translated as preaching by the NWT means “to herald or proclaim” as a message that is authoritative, rather than “preaching” which is “announcing”. Therefore, the message being conveyed here in Romans is, do not worry about things that will not happen, and are not important, but rather about what we know for certain. Rather be concerned about the message you have right there in your mouth, on your lips and are proclaiming when you speak to people. A similar expression today would be “the words were on his lips, or on the tip of his tongue” meaning at the forefront of his mind, ready to speak out loud. This conveys a similar thought to Moses’ words in Deuteronomy where he had instructed the Israelites to practice what they were already familiar with.
In Romans 10:9 the Kingdom Interlinear reads “That if ever you should confess the saying in the mouth of you that Lord Jesus (is), and you should believe in the heart of you that the God him raised up out of dead (ones), you will be saved;” Have you spotted the difference. Yes, the Greek Interlinear says “confess”. The word “homologeses”- to confess, carries the meaning of “to speak the same, to voice the same conclusion”. Today, we have homologous (similar structure) and homogenise (make uniform or similar).
We noted earlier the whole purpose of the Apostle Paul writing the book of Romans was to unite the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians in thought and purpose. Therefore “to confess”, rather than “publicly declare” is a translation far more in keeping with the context.
In verse 10, the Kingdom Interlinear reads: “to heart for it is being believed into righteousness, to mouth but it is being confessed into salvation;” This verse is repeating the same thought as verse 9 when it says the heart has the belief which gives righteousness and the mouth speaks in agreement with others of the truth about Christ in accordance with the message of good news they had received.
Paragraph 8 mentions a point in passing, talking about household rules based on Bible standards, it says: “Tell your young children what they can and cannot watch and help them to understand the reasons for your decisions. (Matt. 5:37) As your children get older, train them to discern for themselves what is right and what is wrong according to Jehovah’s standards”.
In the author’s experience most Witness parents do “tell the children what they can and cannot watch”, but the majority fail with the rest of the suggestion i.e. “help them to understand the reasons for your decisions” and “train them to discern for themselves what is right and what is wrong”. The only reasons given seem to be, “because I said so” or, “because Jehovah says so”, neither of which will convince any child of the wisdom in following the rules. Reaching the heart, while admittedly difficult, which is the best long-term solution for both parents and children usually seems to be rarely attempted. As for parents setting the example to follow, as children will learn “even more from what you do” this also is rarely found, following the world’s trend of “do what I say, ignore what I do”.
Paragraph 15 gives really good advice, a few highlights are as follows: “get the most from our Bible reading”, ”Prayer is vital”, “We need to meditate on what we read”. This is spoilt by the indoctrination plug in paragraph 16 which claims: “Another way we allow God’s thinking to influence us is by watching the material available on JW Broadcasting”, along with a gushing statement of appreciation from a Witness couple. The only thinking that appears to be portrayed on the vast majority of JW Broadcasting is that of the Governing Body, not Jehovah. Such as, “we will not ask or beg for money” and then go on to remind and request donations for unspecific projects that are not verifiable as to the need or even whether the money is used for that purpose. Jehovah does not need money, furthermore as Acts 17:24 states “Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in handmade temples” or assembly Halls, or kingdom halls, or bethels. Neither is there any scriptural direction to provide such meeting places.
However, the concluding paragraph (18) is worthy of mention.
“Will we make mistakes? Yes, we are imperfect.” Hezekiah made mistakes “but he repented and kept on serving Jehovah ‘with a complete heart’.” “Let us pray that we develop ‘an obedient heart’” to Jehovah and Jesus Christ, rather than men such as the Governing Body. “We can remain faithful to Jehovah, “and Jesus Christ, “if, above all else we safeguard our heart.” (Psalm 139:23-24).