“Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55
[Study 50 from ws 12/20 p.8, February 08 – February 14, 2021]
As Christians, we all look forward to being resurrected to be with our Lord in his Kingdom. The article here presupposes that the reader understands the two-hope doctrine presented by the Watchtower Organization. (1) That only a select group will go to heaven, and (2) the rest of those found worthy will be resurrected to an earthly Paradise. According to Watchtower doctrine, only those with the heavenly hope are part of the new covenant with Christ as mediator. All others simply benefit on a second-hand level from the value of Christ’s sacrifice and the promises found in the next several paragraphs. Paragraph 1 states “MOST people now serving Jehovah hope to live forever on earth. A remnant of spirit-anointed Christians, however, hope to be raised to life in heaven.”.
Notice, however, what Paul says in this regard in his letter to the Ephesians 4 starting in verse 4 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. “(New International Version)”.
Notice in this first paragraph we have no Scriptures cited! This Watchtower study article is primarily addressing the heavenly hope of that special anointed class according to Watchtower dogma.
Paragraph 2 continues to set the stage for the Organization’s particular slant on the theme subject by claiming “God inspired some of Jesus disciples in the first century to write about the heavenly hope.” Where in inspired Scripture is there ANY indication that the disciples were only writing to a special heavenly class? Because most Jehovah’s Witnesses believe they have an earthly hope, they are reading this and the Scriptures cited as applying only to those of the anointed class, those with the heavenly hope, according to Watchtower doctrine. 1 John 3:2 is cited: “We are now children of God, but it has not been made manifest what we will be. We do know that when he is made manifest, we will be like him.” The rest of the paragraph expounds on this. The problem is that there is no indication in the Scriptural context that this applies only to a special class of Christians. The earthly class is not counted as “children of God”. Only the anointed class will be with Christ according to this explanation.
(For a further discussion of this do a search on this website regarding the Resurrection, the 144,000, and the Great Crowd. Several articles will discuss these subjects in detail)
Paragraph 4 highlights the fact that we are living in dangerous times. True! The study article focuses on the persecution of the brothers and sisters. What about many other Christians being slaughtered each day in certain lands just for bearing the name Christian? In Nigeria, according to gatestoneinstitute.org, for example, 620 Christians were butchered by radical Muslim factions from January to Mid-May 2020. Persecution is affecting ALL who profess Christ, yet the focus seems to be that only Jehovah’s Witnesses are being persecuted. The Bible does offer a wonderful promise for those faithful Christians who are martyred for the name of Christ. We can look forward to the fulfilment of that promise. Notice too how the Watchtower continues to ignore the important role of Christ when addressing endurance of this persecution.
Paragraph 5 gives the illusion that today the Witnesses are the only people with a resurrection hope. While it is true that many non-Christians have lost faith in God and live only for today, many Christians do believe in the resurrection and have a sincere desire to serve Jesus and be with him.
Paragraph 6 however ties association into this picture. Why should a person be considered a bad association because he does not believe in the resurrection? Should this cause us to view that person as a bad associate? Many who are non-Christians lead good moral lives and are honest. Why does the article state; “No good can come from choosing as associates those who have a live-for-the-moment outlook. Being with such ones can ruin a true Christian’s viewpoint and habits.” The article cites 1 Corinthians 15:33, 34 “Do not be misled, bad association spoils useful habits. Come to your senses in a righteous way and do not practice sin.”.
While most would agree, that as a Christian we would probably not want to have close association with a drunkard, drug addict, or immoral person, the Watchtower seems to be extending this classification to anyone not a part of the Organization and is also trying to stop all association with such ones.
There are a number of things we must keep in mind regarding Paul’s discussion here. First, many in the Christian congregation of that time were converted Sadducees. Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. Also, Paul had to address a heresy that was beginning to develop. Corinth was a very immoral city. Many Christians were affected by the loose, immoral behavior of the surrounding inhabitants and were taking their Christian freedom to extremes (See Jude 4 and Galatians 5:13). We see this Corinthian attitude today as well and certainly, we have to exercise caution against becoming affected by such an attitude. But we do not have to go to the extreme of shutting out what Jehovah’s Witnesses refer to as “worldly people.” Read 1 Corinthians 5:9,10.
Paragraphs 8-10 discuss 1 Corinthians 15:39-41. The problem here is that the Organization is saying this only applies to the 144,000, and that all others will be given new fleshly bodies here on earth. Where does it say this in Paul’s letter? One must assume it from Watchtower’s dogma rather than Scripture.
Paragraph 10 states “So how can it be that a body is “raised up in incorruption”? Paul was not speaking of a human who is resurrected to life on earth, such as those raised by Elijah, Elisha, and Jesus. Paul was referring to a person who is resurrected with a heavenly body, that is, “a spiritual one.”—1 Cor. 15:42-44.”. There is no evidence that “Paul was not speaking of a human who is resurrected to life on earth”. Neither does Paul equate a heavenly body with a spiritual body. They are just speculation on the part of the Organization, stated as fact, to support their doctrine.
Paragraph 13-16 According to Watchtower doctrine, since 1914 the resurrection of the remnant of the 144,000 occurs as they die. They are transferred directly to heaven. So according to Watchtower Theology, the first resurrection has already occurred and is still occurring, and Christ has returned invisibly. But is that what the Bible teaches? Did Christ say he would return invisibly? Is he going to return twice?
First, there is no scriptural evidence Christ will return twice, once invisibly and once again at Armageddon! Their doctrine and this study article hinge on that supposition. If those ones had been resurrected on their deaths to join those believed to be of the anointed by the Organization, who died prior to 1914, what have they all been doing in heaven since that time? This subject is never discussed. Search the entire Watchtower CD-Rom or online library and you will not find even one article discussing what the resurrected ones of the 144,000 have been doing in heaven since their supposed resurrection. Notice, however, what Revelation 1:7 tells us about the coming of Christ: Look, he is coming with the clouds and every eye will see him…”. He is not invisibly present! (See the article on this website Examining Matthew 24).
Second, there is no Scriptural evidence that only 144,000 will enter into heaven nor that they are a special class of Christian. Such reasoning is conjecture and an attempt to twist Scripture to fit Watchtower doctrine. Again, there is no Scriptural backing for this doctrine. (See the article Who’s Who (Great Crowd or other Sheep).
Third, there is no Scriptural evidence that there are two classes of Christians as taught by the Organization, one with a heavenly hope and one with an earthly hope. John 10:16 clearly states that the “other sheep” will become “one flock”. Jesus was sent first to the Jews, later the door was opened to the other sheep, Gentiles who have been grafted into the one flock with one shepherd.
Fourth, there is no Scriptural evidence that the resurrection will occur sporadically throughout the thousand years (see Revelation 20:4-6). Only two resurrections are mentioned. Those who are followers of Christ who take part in the first resurrection and the rest of mankind who will be resurrected to judgment at the end of the thousand years.
Fifth, there is no clear scriptural evidence that any at all will be resurrected to heaven.[i]
Paragraph 16 emphasizes that our life depends on our loyalty to Jehovah by which they mean the Organization. In Watchtower dogma the Organization is synonymous with Jehovah! The Governing Body is the mediator between man and Christ therefore we must have complete trust and faith in the Governing Body! What happened to our faith in Jesus? Why isn’t that mentioned? See 1 Timothy 2:5. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus”. According to Watchtower dogma, this only applies to the “anointed”. The ORGANIZATION has set itself up as a mediator between Christ and those not of the “anointed class”. There is no indication in Scripture that this is so!
Paragraph 17 presents us with more propaganda by alluding to having a share in the preaching work we can gain, through our works, eternal life! That we must engage in the preaching work if we want to survive Armageddon! The Bible is clear that only our faith in our Lord Jesus can gain us salvation. While as Christians we want to share our faith with others as Christ commanded, we do this out of faith, not fear, obligation, or guilt! They refer here to 1 Corinthians 15:58 “… have plenty to do in the work of the Lord…”. This is not just referring to sharing our faith. It has to do with the way we lead our lives, the love we show others both spiritually and materially. It is not just about works! James 2:18 helps us to appreciate that if we have faith, it will be manifest in our works.
So, to boil this Watchtower study article down, it claims only 144,000 will be resurrected to heaven, and thus, the scriptures in 1 Corinthians 15 only apply to the anointed. The Watchtower Organization use the Fear Obligation and Guilt method of motivating the rank and file to remain loyal to the Organization, engage in the preaching work, and attend all the meetings to gain knowledge if they are to have salvation. They also offer no scriptural proof as to how the dead are to be raised up, the theme of the study article.
The Bible is clear, our salvation comes through Christ, not an ORGANIZATION. Notice John 11:25 “… ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life.’” and Acts 4:12 speaking of Jesus: Furthermore, there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
[i] See the series “Mankind’s hope for the future, Where will it be?” for an in-depth examination of this topic. https://beroeans.net/2019/01/09/mankinds-hope-for-the-future-where-will-it-be-a-scriptural-examination-part-1/