“I have hope toward God … that there is going to be a resurrection.” Acts 24:15
[Study 49 from ws 12/20 p.2 February 01 – February 07, 2021]
This study article is the first of two which are aimed at reinforcing the “two destinations rule”, which like the “two-witness rule” is fundamentally flawed. The Organization sees a need to restate the supposed scriptural basis for the hope of those claiming to be of the anointed. Quite why the Organization sees the need to discuss this in a Watchtower study article for all Witnesses is a good question. After all, it only affects, at least, according to the Organization’s last memorial attendance, a total of circa 20,000 partakers, against circa 8,000,000 rejectors of Christ’s sacrifice. As we could only speculate, we will not, we will leave that as the undisputed realm and the prerogative of the Organization.
Addressing Wrong Views
It is apt that the second section of the Watchtower article is entitled “Addressing Wrong Views”! The problem is that in allegedly addressing wrong views, the Organization promulgates unscriptural wrong views of its own. How so?
Paragraph 12 states “Paul had firsthand knowledge that “Christ [had] been raised from the dead.” That resurrection was superior to the resurrection of those who had earlier been brought back to life on earth—only to die again. Paul said that Jesus was “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death.” In what sense was Jesus first? He was the first person to be raised to life as a spirit being and the first one from mankind to ascend to heaven. – 1 Corinthians 15:20; Acts 26:23; read 1 Peter 3:18, 22.”.
It is the wording of the last sentence which this reviewer would take issue with. True, Jesus “was the first person to be raised to life as a spirit being”, but will others be raised as spirit beings as implied by the wording of the Watchtower article? Speaking frankly, while this reviewer could be wrong, I have been unable to find any other scriptures that state others will be raised to life as spirit beings. There are some scriptures, that some interpret as being the case, but none to my knowledge state this explicitly. (Please: Before anyone comments that 1 Corinthians 15:44-51 states that, it does not. To say that it does is twisting the English language (and Greek for that matter). Please see the endnote reference for an in-depth examination of 1 Corinthians 15) [i].
As for others “from mankind to ascend to heaven”, again, no scripture actually says this will happen, where heaven is the realm of God, Jesus, and the angels, which is the intended meaning of the Watchtower article. (Again 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 talks of meeting the Lord in the air or sky or earthly heavens, not the realm of God.)[ii]
A big reason that Jesus’ resurrection was superior, and that the Apostle Paul spoke of it as being “the first to be resurrected from the dead”, was that it was the first where the one resurrected remained alive without the threat of future death, for he knew of the other resurrections, indeed he performed one himself (Acts 20:9). The second fruits would also have this distinction from all the other resurrections recorded in the scriptural record.
Those who will be made alive
Paragraph 15 perpetuates the fictitious and at times arbitrary application of the Organization’s teaching that certain parts of the scriptures were only written to a special “anointed” class rather than to Christians as a whole. It takes Romans 6:3-5 out of context to imply that the likeness of Jesus’ resurrection with the resurrection of the “anointed” is a resurrection to heaven. Yet Romans 6:8-11, the context of Romans 6:3-5, says “Moreover, if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that Christ, now that he has been raised up from the dead, dies no more; death is no longer master over him. 10 For the death that he died, he died with reference to sin once for all time, but the life that he lives, he lives with reference to God. 11 Likewise you, consider yourselves to be dead with reference to sin but living with reference to God by Christ Jesus.” The likeness is according to the Apostle Paul is that they, like Christ, would die no more. That death would no longer be a master over them, and that they would live with reference to God instead of sin and imperfection.
Therefore, when paragraph 16 claims “Furthermore, by calling Jesus “the firstfruits,” Paul implied that others thereafter would be raised from death to heavenly life.” it is a “wrong view”. It is the Organization’s viewpoint not that of the scriptures. Furthermore, One would have to establish that Christ explicitly instituted a new hope for the Christians that changed the belief most first-century Jews had of a resurrection to earth (excluding the Sadducees).
Other “wrong views” promulgated in this Watchtower article include paragraph 17 which claims: “Today we are living during that foretold “presence” of Christ.”. How is this so when the Apostle John wrote about the revelation Jesus gave him, in Revelation 1:7, “Look, He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see him, and those who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief because of him”. When on trial before the Sanhedrin, Jesus even told them “You will see the son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64). Further, Jesus told us in Matthew 24:30-31 that “the sign of the son of man will appear in heaven and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds …”.
Yes, all the tribes of the earth would see the coming of the Son of man [Jesus] and that would precede the gathering of the chosen ones. Have you seen the coming of the Son of Man? Have all the tribes of the earth seen the coming of the Son of Man? The answer has to be No! to both questions.
Clearly then, neither of these events have yet taken place, especially as the gathering of the chosen ones follows the visible coming of the son of man. Therefore, those who claim the resurrection has already taken place are lying and deceiving us, just as Paul warned Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:18 “These very men have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred, and they are subverting the faith of some.”
Yes, the Resurrection is a sure hope, but it is one and the same hope for all true Christians. In addition, it has not yet started, otherwise, we would all know about it. Do not be fooled by the Organization’s “wrong views”.
For an in-depth scriptural examination of this topic looking at all the resurrections in the Bible record and the development of the resurrection hope, why not examine the following two series on this site.
[i] See a discussion of 1 Corinthians 15 in this article: https://beroeans.net/2019/03/14/mankinds-hope-for-the-future-where-will-it-be-a-scriptural-examination-part-5/