“I have called you friends, because I have made known to you all the things I have heard from my Father.”—JOHN 15:15
[From ws 04/20 p.20 June 22 – June 28]
Why use this theme scripture? Who was Jesus talking too?
In John 15 Jesus was talking to his disciples, specifically the 11 faithful apostles, as Judas had just left to betray Jesus. In John 15:10 Jesus said, “If you observe my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have observed the commandments of the Father, and remain in his love.” He also went on to say in John 15:14 “You are my friends if you do what I am commanding you”.
So why pick out the phrase “I have called you friends”? Before answering that question let us look at how Jesus addressed the apostles and disciples.
Earlier in Jesus’ ministry the following event took place which is recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Jesus’ fleshly mother and brothers were trying to get near him. Luke 8:20-21 describes what happened, “it was reported to him [Jesus] “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside wanting to see you”. In reply he [Jesus] said to them: “My mother and my brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it”. So, any disciples who listened to Jesus teaching and applied it were considered his brothers.
When speaking to Peter before Jesus was arrested, Jesus said regarding the future, “when once you have returned, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32). In Matthew 28:10, shortly after Jesus death and resurrection Jesus said the following to the women [Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary] “Have no fear! Go report to my brothers, that they may go off into Galilee; and there they will see me”.
As a summary, Jesus called the disciples in general and also the apostles, his brothers. He also stated that those who listened to him and applied it where his brothers. However, when Jesus said “I have called you friends” he was only speaking to the 11 faithful apostles. He spoke to them this way because he had grown close to them. As Jesus said in Luke 22:28 “you are the ones that have stuck with me in my trials”. As Jesus was dying “seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing by, said to his mother ‘Woman, see! Your son!’ Next, he said to the disciple; ‘See! Your mother!’ And from that hour on the disciple took her to his home” (John 19:26-27).
The book of Acts has the early disciples calling one another “brothers”, rather than just “friends”.
Therefore, it is clear that taking the phrase “I have called you friends”, as the theme and applying it as the study article does, is taking it out of context as it was specifically applied by Jesus to his faithful apostles. However, the phrase “my brothers” applying to all his disciples would not be out of context.
Then why has the Organization done this? An oversight? Artistic license? Or more sinister?
A box on page 21 gives the game away when it says “Thus, friendship with Jesus leads to friendship with Jehovah”. Yes, the Organization is subtly still pushing its agenda that the vast majority of Witnesses can only become friends of God, rather than sons of God. This is confirmed in paragraph 12 when the paragraph heading is “(3) Support Christ’s brothers”, and continues with “Jesus views what we do for his anointed brothers as if we were doing it for him” and “The primary way that we support the anointed is by sharing fully in the kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work that Jesus directed his followers to carry out.”
Surely, if we preach about the kingdom and make disciples of Christ as Jesus directed his followers to do then we are, or should be, doing it directly for Jesus, not for “Christ’s brothers”. After all, does not Galatians 6:5 tell us that “For each one will carry his own load”. Sadly, the reality is that anything done for the Organization is being done for those claiming to be “Christ’s brothers”, rather than for Christ. The study article is also trying to reinforce the artificial division the Organization has created between Christians of ‘anointed’ and ‘non-anointed’, a division that never existed in Jesus teachings.
The Apostle Paul in Galatians 3:26 said “You are all, in fact sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus” and went on to say in Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman; for you are all one in union with Christ Jesus” and to that we could add ‘There is neither anointed and non-anointed, there is neither brothers and friends; for you are all one in union with Christ’. All “sons of God”, would be brothers of Christ, who is the firstborn Son of God. (1 John 4:15, Colossians 1:15).
Paragraphs 1-4 mentions 3 challenges in making friends of Jesus. They are:
- We have not met Jesus personally.
- We are not able to speak to Jesus.
- Jesus lives in heaven.
Now, having these three points together highlighted in bold caused me to pause and think hard about the implications. How can we make friends of someone we have not met and cannot meet, without speaking to them? It is impossible.
Paragraphs 10-14 suggested the following:
- Get to know Jesus by reading the Bible accounts of Jesus.
- Imitate Jesus’ way of thinking and acting.
- Support Christ’s brothers. (This includes a full paragraph requesting financial support, for uses for which we are never given an account of how it has been spent)
- Support the arrangements of the Christian congregation. (This is used to justify the closure and selling of Kingdom Halls).
Points 1 and 2 are vital. However, that is all one-sided and impersonal. In addition, to which (3) has already been discounted based on the scriptural evidence discussed earlier above and (4) is only relevant if the Organization is truly being used by Christ.
So why can we not speak to Jesus, after all, that would solve the problem? We can speak to God, but does it not seem strange for him to forbid us to speak to his son? The Bible does not contain any command by God that does forbid us to do so. By the same token, it does not contain any suggestion by Jesus that we do pray to him.
However, according to paragraph 3 of the study article Jesus does not want us to pray to him. It tells us “In fact, Jesus does not want us to pray to him. Why not? Because prayer is a form of worship, and only Jehovah should be worshipped. (Matthew 4:10)”.
What does Matthew 4:10 tell us? “Then Jesus said to him: “Go away Satan! For it is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service”. That clearly states we should only worship God, there is no question about that, but where does it say Jesus does not want us to pray to him, because prayer is a form of worship? Is that really true?
Prayer is a form of communication, like speaking, to call upon God or a person to ask for something or to thank for something (see also Genesis 32:11, Genesis 44:18).
To Worship means to show reverence and adoration for a deity, or honor with religious rites, to take part in a religious ceremony. In the Christian Greek scriptures, the word “proskuneo” to worship – means to bow down to gods or kings (see Revelation 19:10, 22:8-9). In Matthew 4:8-9 what did Satan want Jesus to do? Satan wanted Jesus to “fall down and do an act of worship to me”.
It is, therefore, reasonable to conclude that while some prayers may be done in a worshipful way or included in our worship, prayers are not exclusively worshiping. So, when the Watchtower Study article says, “prayer is a form of worship”, that is misleading. Yes, prayer can be a form of worship, but it is not exclusively a form of worship, which is a fine but important distinction. In other words, prayer is possible if done in a way not implying worship.
How do the scriptures say we worship God? Jesus said, “the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).
The conclusion we can draw from this is, while Jehovah God as our Father is clearly the main destination of our prayers, and the only object of our worship, the Bible record does not forbid us from communicating with Jesus in a respectful way via the medium of prayer, but neither does it encourage it. That is a thought that will leave most Witnesses, including the author, with some thinking to do.
Finally, to keep this point for thought in context, John 15:14 reminds us that Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I am commanding you” and Luke 8:21 “my brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it”. Perhaps, at the end of the day in God’s and Jesus’ eyes, works speak louder than words, after all, James 2:17 says “faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself”.
Pourquoi vouloir faire une hiérarchie dans notre amour pour Christ et Dieu? Lorsqu’on aime Christ on aime Dieu ; lorsqu’on aime Dieu on aime Christ. Jean 14 : 21 Celui qui accepte mes commandements et y obéit, c’est lui qui m’aime. Et celui qui m’aime sera aimé de mon Père, et moi je l’aimerai et je me montrerai clairement à lui. » 23 ” Si quelqu’un m’aime, il obéira à ma parole, et mon Père l’aimera, et nous viendrons vers lui et nous ferons chez lui notre habitation” De l’amour du Christ découle l’amour de Dieu. On ne peut pas les dissocier… Read more »
I wonder if someone can explain why Abraham who is said to became Jehovah’s friend if as we are told that we know Jesus first to become his friend. It said that Abraham ,Moses etc need to have this friendship
You may want to rephrase that question, unless I’m missing something (or actually don’t have what I need) it’s not very understandable and would be very difficult to try to explain what you are wondering.
So I found this very interesting in the discussion of the watch tower today. When they got to paragraph five they read the paragraph but they did not read the boxes. This was unusual since they always with the boxes. When the conductor asked for a comment on the second box “a balance view of Jesus’ role”, an elder Commented on the box and he said “ The paragraph says that we must attach neither too much nor too little importance to our relationship with Jesus”. No other comments and they moved on. When we see the difference there the… Read more »
The clinching verse for me regarding speaking directly to Jesus is John 14:13,14. If you read it in the NWT you will need to use the Interlinear, as they miss out the key word ME.
“Also, whatever it is that you ask in my name, I will do this, in order that the Father may be glorified in connection with the Son. If you ask (ME) anything in my name, I will do it.”
What I find disturbing about this Watchtower article is at one point it seems JW is trying to open people’s eyes to the important role Jesus plays in our lives but at the same time reminds us He is just a friend. As you point out, how can you be friends with someone you don’t know. There are countless Scriptures where Jesus tells us that if you know Him then you know His Father. So logic tells me that how can you not aim to know Jesus because if you don’t know Him, you won’t know the Father. It is therefore clear to… Read more »
Dear brothers and sisters, I have noticed in this discussion that some have doubts as to whether it is right to speak directly to Jesus Christ, our Lord, or not. I would like to share my thoughts on the concepts of prayer and worship with you. And I’d like to follow up on a good comment from LJ. I apologize for the size of text. When Jesus was on earth, his disciples and ordinary people often asked Jesus for various things (Matt 8: 2; Luke 18:38). But, at the same time, they did not worship him as Almighty God.… Read more »
Thank you for those excellent thoughts, Frankie.
Hello all, Has anyone noticed the apparent subtle change in what the terms “declared righteous/reconciled” means? Notice the blurb below from the WT article: “Friendship With Jesus Leads to Friendship With JehovahBecause of inherited sin, we could never on our own enjoy friendship with Jehovah. All of us begin life, not as God’s friends, but as his enemies. To become his friends, therefore, WE MUST BE RECONCILED to him. (Rom. 5:6-12) Jehovah has made provision for this reconciliation through the ransom sacrifice of his only-begotten Son. By exercising faith in Jesus and obeying his commands, we can become his friends.… Read more »
Can I talk to Jesus ? Yes. Should I talk to Jesus ? That is the question. Let me put before you a bit of logic :- A slice of bread is better than nothing Nothing is better than God Therefore a slice of bread is better than God. Have we got our logic right on this subject ? Jesus stated (Matthew 4:10 ) that “It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service”. (NWT). or “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve” (English Standard).… Read more »
Yes we are his brothers and sisters not just mates. Or friends as not related. Romans 8:29, says, “For those whom he [God] foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Now, there is a double purpose there, isn’t there. One is conformity to the image of the Son of God, so that we can actually be called brothers because of this unity, this conformity, this union with Christ. We are brothers by likeness, not just legally, but by likeness to his image. And… Read more »
Thanks as always for your research and WT reviews Tadua. And thank you all for your comments and, at times, lively discussion. I have learned so much from these pages and been exposed to many new and interesting ideas from each of your comments. It is such a refreshing forum for Bible discussion – I love it! I haven’t read the WT article yet, however I do try to each week so that I can follow through with these BP articles as well as see what my PIMI wife, PIMI eldest son and PIMO younger son are being taught.… Read more »
Enjoyed this article and look forward to them every week!!!
Like those in Christendom, the early Bible Students mistakenly allowed their LOVE FOR JESUS to OVERSHADOW their relationship with Jehovah…….. content in one of the BOX of this article This is how the ORG smear and misdirect the intention of other religions to RAISE theirs above the others and in so doing put other RELIGIONS in bad light. How can the BIBLE STUDENTS be mistaken to follow the CHRISTENDOM when Matthew 4:10 was clearly WRITTEN in the BIBLE. Was Matthew 4:10 written after the death of the BIBLE STUDENT? NO is the answer. In REALITY they just made the BIBLE… Read more »
There is something going on here that is concerning me very much. Neither in the review or in the comment section is there any mention of what is in the box on page 22 “a balanced view of Jesus role” I find there one of the most egregious statements that the organization has ever made. Last sentence reads“ We must attach neither too much nor too little importance to our love for Jesus.” Now, imagine someone saying this,” We must attach neither too much nor too little importance to our love for the governing body. Now, how do you think… Read more »
Thank you for bringing that to our attention. I don’t read the Watchtower anymore and less so the illustrations. That is a truly egregious statement.
John 16:27 is used and translated in NWT as: For the Father himself has affection for you, because you have had affection for me and have believed that I came as God’s representative. Bold is mine.
This is a poor translation serving an agenda. God can have many representatives like he had Moses and others. But there is only who came FROM GOD, sent by God.
Hi CLM, Like Meleti, I don’t read the WT anymore either, not that I read it all the time like most here have been through. Every time I did read one it amazed me at how easy it was to pick apart. I have gone through some old ones along and along but they are no good anymore and the GB of today would be more than happy if they were destroyed, as it is you can only go back so far and then you are treading on apostate boundaries and old light that can get you dis-fellowshipped if… Read more »
Moi non plus je ne lis plus les Tour de Garde. Je n’arrive plus à avoir un bon état d’esprit connaissant maintenant la malhonnêteté de ceux qui les écrivent ou les supervisent. Parfois, je les survole lorsque je veux mieux comprendre la raison d’un commentaire sur ce site. Mais je suis d’accord avec ce que tu dis. On ne peut pas mesurer ou limiter notre affection pour le Christ. Je ne comprends même pas pourquoi ils ont mis comme référence jean 16 : 27 (je suis allee voir ce qu’ils disaient suite à ton commentaire). Jean dit :” Car le… Read more »
The part that says…..Beginning in 1919, however, they came to see that JEHOVAH and their relationship with him should be the FOCUS OF THEIR WORSHIP.
What were they worshiping before 1919? The same JESUS CHRIST other denominations still hold in HIGH REGARDS. The content in this box under this week article is something else.
I don’t read the WTs either, but the arrogance of this article forced me to read it briefly in the WT edition in my native language. And right now, in a comment from you, I read the English version of the sentence: “We must attach neither too much nor too little importance to our love for Jesus.” But in the Slovak edition of WT, this sentence reads differently after translation: “But we must be careful not to love Jesus more than Jehovah.” So I think the writers probably tried to point out the order of importance – 1st… Read more »
J’ai moi aussi, tout de suite compris où la WT voulait nous emmener en parlant de devenir « amis de Christ » puis « amis de Jéhovah ». Quoi de plus naturel que d’adresser à Christ nos remerciements pour son sacrifice qui nous délivre de nos péchés, et nous donne l’espérance de la vie éternelle ? Jean 6 : 4 « Oui, je vous le dis, c’est la vérité : il a la vie éternelle, celui qui croit ». I Jean 5 : 1 « Toute personne qui croit que Jésus est le Christ est née de Dieu » Et… Read more »
Thanks Tadua. Nice article.
I too,have often wondered if it is proper to talk with Jesus. It dawned on me one day that Stephen did just that. Acts: 7; 56 – 59
Hi Tadua. Thank you for good review. I think your effort with respect to this review was sufficient ;o). This article is dangerous (without the IMO). It is a spiritual food full of nice words and seasoned with a bit of poison. You captured the essence of this article, which aims to: 1. Deepen the gap between R&F and Jesus, 2. Emphasize the division of members of the organization into two classes – masters and slaves, through the word “friend”. Your thoughts “How can we make friends of someone we have not met and cannot meet, without speaking to… Read more »
Nice review. With the organisation it is like this: either they do not mention Jesus at all (see previous study article) or they make Jesus merely like a messenger or servant to his Father.
If the anointed are considered brothers of Jesus, then what were the apostles? “just” friends? Further, brother is not a step up compared to brother. At least, not in what Jesus meant to say here. You can have a brother you do not want to know but you can have friends you love.
The Watchtower will never learn the lesson that we should not make a doctrine out of a single verse ,we can prove anything we want this way .Doing this we end up with just a list of proof texts .In fact anyone still active in the Watchtower will know in their heart of hearts that that is so ,the bereans did not check a Watchtower to see if these things were so they checked The Scriptures .here is a couple of Scriptures to dwell on John 6:28,29 as to the work required and 1john 5:1 as this allows us to… Read more »
Greetings JA, The authors on this site are certainly not afraid of, or above criticism and opposing views as you are certainly aware of, but I would like to respond to this portion of your comment, “I am starting to understand your relentless obsession to attack WT at every turn”, but it would be more effective if you had some sound reasoning behind it. What you wrote here is just careless and poorly thought out. A little more effort, please.” JA you do realize the main premise of Beroean Pickets (in my opinion) is to support mainly the… Read more »
JA not to beleaguer this plus Tadua doesn’t need me defend him,but I get a little unsettled when someone “shoots the messenger “ or in this case the reviewer. You stated, “When I read Meleit’s articles, even ones I disagree with, I am still left with the impression of respectable scholarship and attention both to detail and to the emotional effect it will have on readers” I know that you have read some of Tadua’s non-WT review articles found on the authors link and would agree many are very “Detailed and scholarly, so why this comment? “What I… Read more »
Thank you for sharing this with us, BC.
So, they want the brothers to donate because they are “using our financial resources to support the work that they are directing.” They add: “For example, we can contribute toward the worldwide work, which includes financing the preaching of the good news in isolated areas, building and maintaining facilities that support true worship, and providing material relief for those who have suffered loss.” What fine words! What lofty goals!! What a sham!!! They dismantled for all intents and purposes the special pioneer ranks which were the primary means to preaching in isolated areas. They are cutting back on foreign… Read more »