Frequent Questions

Revelation 22:13 speaks about ”the beginning and the end”. So is not Revelation 22:13 also referring to Christ? Why?

Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and omega is the last; one is the beginning and the other the end of the Greek alphabet. So the expressions “the Alpha and the Omega” and “the first and the last” and “the beginning and the end” are parallel expressions and mean the same thing. They are applied to Jehovah God. Isaiah 44:6 reads: “Thus saith Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God.” Revelation 1:8 catches up this thought in Isaiah and adds to it the point that he is coming: “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says Jehovah God, ‘the One who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty.’” So just because the verse preceding Revelation 22:13 speaks of that “Alpha and Omega” as coming does not necessarily mean it refers to Christ Jesus, whose second coming is frequently mentioned. Revelation 1:8 shows Jehovah as coming, and so Revelation 22:12 may do likewise. He comes representatively, through Christ Jesus. Revelation 4:8 speaks of Jehovah as coming, and Revelation 21 shows his presence with humankind. “Look! the tent of God is with humankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. . . . I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To anyone thirsting I will give from the fountain of the water of life free. Anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I shall be his God and he will be my son.” (Vss. 3, 6, 7) This reference is certainly to Jehovah God, for he is God to the anointed body members of Christ and they are his spiritual sons. They are Christ’s brothers, not sons, so the text is speaking of Jehovah, and it calls him “the Alpha and the Omega”. So when the Alpha and Omega is mentioned again in the very next chapter, why must the term suddenly shift to Christ Jesus instead of Jehovah God? It does not. Some argue that it refers to Christ Jesus at Revelation 22:13 because verse 16 shows Jesus speaking. But that does not mean the speaker of the preceding verses must also be Jesus. The use of the single quotation marks in the New World Translation shows a change in speakers between verses 15 and 16. We must remember that the revelation God gave to Jesus Christ was passed on to the apostle John by one of Christ’s angels, and that this angel sometimes spoke for Jehovah God and sometimes for Christ Jesus; so we must watch for these changes and note them on the basis of content and context. It is true that when the angel speaks for Christ, at Revelation 1:17, he states: “I am the First and the Last.” But a check of the context shows this “First and Last” was with definite limitations, was relative to just the matter of Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection, as verse 18 shows. Christ was the first one raised in the first resurrection, and the last one that will be raised directly by Jehovah God. Others who follow in that resurrection will be raised by God through Christ. (John 6:40; 1 Cor. 6:14) In fact, this limitation is also shown by the footnote on “First” in Revelation 1:17 in the New World Translation, where “First” is shown to mean “Firstborn” by one ancient manuscript. Christ was the firstfruits of those asleep in death. (1 Cor. 15:20) When “First and Last” is again applied to Christ Jesus, at Revelation 2:8, note that again it is with respect to death and resurrection. But when it speaks thus of Jehovah no limitation is set on the meaning. So we must be reasonable. When we see an expression that is applied to Jehovah several times in its unlimited sense, and then come across it again but not specifically indicated as applying to Jehovah, we cannot become flighty and switch the expression to Christ Jesus; and especially when we note that it is applied elsewhere, not in its unlimited sense, but only with definite limitation of meaning. Trinitarians try to capitalize on this expression to show it was used indiscriminately for either God or Christ, and in this way show God and Christ are the same. But logic and reason do not allow this, no more than do many other texts in the Bible.  

Did Jehovah foreknow that the covering cherub will become rebel? Or did He foreknow that Adam and Eve will yield to the temptations of this rebel?

Can it be said that Jehovah foreknew that the covering cherub placed over Adam and Eve in Eden would turn rebel? Or that Jehovah foreknew that Adam and Eve would succumb to that rebel’s temptings? Neither Scripturally nor logically can it be maintained. The Bible shows that Jehovah’s foreknowledge is exercised regarding his works, but the cherub’s rebellion and Adam and Eve’s transgression were not works of Jehovah. He did not intrude his powers of foreknowledge into the affairs of these creatures. He is not a suspicious God, always suspecting his creatures, seeking to find flaws in their mind and heart, looking for trouble. He waits and allows them to manifest their failures. A man may go straight until some special temptation faces him, and then flaws in his integrity show up. So it apparently was with the cherub. After being assigned to his position and after Adam and Eve were created, the situation became a temptation to the cherub. Not a temptation from Jehovah, but one that the improper thoughts and desires of the cherub created for himself. (Jas. 1:13-15; 1 John 2:15-17) He saw the human pair, knew of their power to multiply, the divine command for them to do so, and envisioned the earth filled with human creatures. He wanted their worship, and proceeded to alienate this first pair from Jehovah’s worship. But all that Jehovah had foreordained in these matters was that obedience would mean life and disobedience would mean death, and he so informed Adam, and through him Eve.—Gen. 2:16, 17. In the face of absolutely no Scriptural evidence that Jehovah foreknew this trio’s transgressions, on what basis can it be argued that he did? No sound basis. He would not have to foreknow the rebellion of these three in order to cope with it. Nor need he foreknow the works of demons and men at this time in order to accomplish his purposes. No more so than would a man, intending to cut the weeds from a plot of ground to make a garden, have to foreknow the acts of insects dwelling in the jungle of weeds and which constitutes their home. Regardless of what the insects might do, they could no more prevent the man from cutting the weeds than man could prevent God from accomplishing the divine works. God needs to foreknow man’s opposing efforts no more so than the man needs to foreknow the insect’s. (Isa. 40:22) In either case the intended purpose can be carried out regardless of the opposition, since it is so insignificantly feeble in comparison with the power of the purposer.—Isa. 46:11; 55:11.    

What is meant by Ecclesiastes 7:16, 17, where we are told to “be not righteous over much” and “be not over much wicked”?

To give a little more of the setting and also clarify the expressions by using modern speech, we quote Ecclesiastes 7:15-18 from An American Translation: “I have seen all sorts of things in my empty life: for example, the righteous man perishing in his righteousness, and the wicked prolonging his life in his wickedness. Do not be over-righteous, and be not excessively wise; why should you ruin yourself? Be not over-wicked, nor play the fool; why should you die before your time? It is well that you lay hold of one thing, and also that your hand let not go of another; for he who fears God will come forth with both.” Moffatt’s rendering of verse 18 is interesting: “The best way is to take the one line, and yet not avoid the other; he who stands in awe of God shall avoid both extremes.” This admonition to avoid both extremes seems to be the key to unlock the meaning of these verses. Some are extreme in their views concerning righteousness, and look down upon others as being wicked if they do not measure up to the extremists’ conceptions of what is righteous. Of this class were those in Isaiah’s time who said: “Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou.” But rather than considering them holy Jehovah says of them: “These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.” (Isa. 65:5) Similarly self-righteous were the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day, who thought themselves so righteous and others so wicked. This is highlighted by an illustration Jesus gave, as follows: “He spoke this illustration also to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and who considered the rest as nothing: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and began to pray these things to himself: “O God, I thank you I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give the tenth of all things I acquire.” But the tax collector standing at a distance was not willing even to raise his eyes heavenward, but kept beating his chest, saying: “O God, be gracious to me a sinner.” I tell you, This man went down to his home proved more righteous than that man; because everyone that exalts himself will be humiliated, but he that humbles himself will be exalted.’”—Luke 18:9-14. The Pharisee thought himself so righteous, and adulterers and even the tax collector wicked and far below him; yet it was the apparently wicked tax collector that was more righteous in God’s sight. And Jesus said on another occasion to the self-righteous chief priests and older men of influence: “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and the harlots are going ahead of you into the kingdom of God.” That is, after abandoning their oppressions and immoralities. (Matt. 21:23, 31) The self-exalted Jewish religionists were not righteous and wise according to God’s Word, but according to their traditions of men, which Jesus said went counter to the commandments of God. (Matt. 15:1-9) Their righteousness was all outward show. It was so bogged down in fussiness over ceremony and ritual and minor matters that it never did get around to fulfilling the weightier matters. (Matt. 23:23-32) These Jewish religionists were both righteous and wise, but only in their own eyes and in their own conceit. Certainly they were not so regarded by God and Christ, for they were told that the eternally destructive judgment of Gehenna awaited them. (Matt. 23:33) In righteousness such as theirs they were to perish. These self-righteous ones, on the other hand, considered the true servants of God wicked. They heaped abuse and beatings upon the faithful, accusing them of being evil seditionists and blasphemers and profaners of the temple. (Acts 17:5-8; 24:5, 6) By the men of Satan’s world Christians are viewed as wicked, as Jesus foretold: “Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every kind of wicked thing against you for my sake.” (Matt. 5:11) But let Satan’s dupes view the service of Christians as wicked if they wish; nonetheless it is by such so-called “wickedness” that Christians prolong their lives. Yet they must be cautious not to become over-righteous, that is, becoming fanatical and extreme on immaterial or minor points, doting on character development to appear righteous in their own eyes, all to the neglect of real service as a witness of Jehovah. Neither should they become wise in their own eyes. That would mean their ruin. Of course, they must not be over-wicked, actually committing wrongs against God and man, and rightly “suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a busybody in other people’s matters”. They will not play the fool and deny God, and bring upon themselves untimely death.—Ps. 14:1; 1 Pet. 4:15. With the foregoing in view, it seems that Ecclesiastes 7:15-18 is telling us not to affect extraordinary righteousness as an outward show and try to appear so righteous in our own eyes and in the eyes of others, for we would perish in that sort of hypocritical righteousness. Nor are we to seek excessive wisdom to shine before others, for that would not be true wisdom but only a wisdom in our own conceited eyes, and would bring us to ruin. We will strive to prolong our lives by serving God, even though this may be viewed as wicked by the world under Satan. We will not, however, sink to real wickedness in God’s sight and bring upon us destruction from him. So we will lay hold of godly righteousness but will shun the extreme of Pharisaical self-righteousness, and we will not let go of the so-called “wickedness” of God’s service but will always shun the extremes of real wickedness. Thus we can serve God acceptably and at the same time not go to extremes, neither trying to appear more righteous than we really are nor becoming actually wicked just to avoid appearing like character developers.  

Why was Barnabas called an apostle in Acts 14:14, even if he was not one of the twelve apostles?

“Apostle” means an envoy or one who is sent forth. Acts 14:14 speaks of Barnabas as an apostle because he was on a missionary tour with Paul and he had been sent forth by the Christian congregation at Antioch under instructions by the holy spirit. (Acts 13:1-4). At 2 Corinthians 8:23 Paul speaks about “our brothers” and says that they are “apostles of congregations,” which means, according to the footnote, that they were “envoys; men sent forth.” They were sent forth by the congregations to represent them and at their expense. At Philippians 2:25 Paul speaks of Epaphroditus as their envoy, or, according to the footnote, their apostle. Even Christ Jesus is spoken of as God’s apostle because he was sent forth from God on an earthly mission.—Heb. 3:1. This understanding clears away what some thought a discrepancy between Acts 9:26, 27 and Galatians 1:17-19. In Acts it states that when Paul arrived in Jerusalem and sought to associate with the disciples they were afraid of him, not having positive assurance of his conversion; “so Barnabas came to his aid and led him to the apostles,” detailing to them Paul’s conversion and his later Christian conduct in Damascus. In Galatians when Paul tells of going to Jerusalem, three years after returning to Damascus from a trip to Arabia, he says: “I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. But I saw no one else of the apostles, only James the brother of the Lord.” The only one of the twelve apostles Paul saw on this trip to Jerusalem was Cephas, or Peter. Yet this does not contradict the fact that at this time Barnabas “led him to the apostles.” It does not say Barnabas led him to the twelve apostles, or the committee of twelve. Peter was the only one of the twelve Paul met then. Any other apostles he may have met there were merely envoys or sent-forth ones. In this sense James the brother of the Lord could be called an apostle, as Paul seems to call him.  

What does the biblical text recorded at Genesis 6: 6 refer to?

Genesis 6:6:  "And it repented Jehovah that he had made man on the earth". "He repented" is translated from the root of the Hebrew word na·hham ', which has several meanings. According to several dictionaries, some of these meanings are: to gasp, to sigh, to regret, to repent, to mourn, to feel mercy or compassion, to comfort, to deliver (from enemies). The word is used in Scripture with these different meanings, meaning given by context. Genesis 6: 6 refers to the moment when Jehovah noticed the wickedness of man and determined to destroy the wicked by a global flood. — Gen. 6: 5-8  Jehovah never repents as people do when they grieve over their mistakes, showing that they will change and give up a wrong course of action. Jehovah's ways are right, and His perfection excludes any possibility of error. Unlike humans, He always keeps His word, always fulfills His purpose, and always obeys His principles. He does not change (Numbers 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Isa. 14:24; 46:11; Ezec. 24:14; Mal. 3: 6; Iac. 1:17). He can "repent" in the sense that he feels pity or compassion. Jehovah God is often shown showing emotions to make his reactions easily understood by humans. As many scriptures show, He can feel regret, anger, rage, provocation, indignation, joy, disgust for evildoers, and other human-like reactions. In the situation described at Genesis 6: 6, Jehovah regretted that humans had gone astray and that all the thoughts of their minds were directed only toward evil. He felt his heart hurt when he saw that people were always turning to evil. Jehovah is not pleased with the death of sinners, so he regretted having to execute the wicked ones and was saddened that he had to use the flood to destroy them. But Jehovah did not regret creating the earth. Nor his intention to inhabit it. His regret was only for His creatures who became rebellious. This is evidenced by the fact that Noah found favor in Jehovah's eyes. Noah walked with God. Jehovah did not regret his creation. The fact that He kept Noah and his faithful members of the family and again issued the mandate to fill the earth shows that Jehovah did not regret making the earth and the people on it and that he did not give up his original purpose to fill the earth with righteous people. If Jehovah regretted that he had created man, then he would have been able to get rid of that regret by using the flood, destroying all the people on earth. But the fact that there were 8 survivors after the flood shows that His regret was only for those who thought and acted wrongly, because only they were eliminated by the flood.

What can individuals do to stem the rising tide of immorality and godlessness?

Some persons feel that the way to do this is by joining a church, by doing social work or by entering politics. But impressive church membership figures—the so-called religious revival—have not stemmed the rising tide of godlessness, nor has the doing of social work. After entering politics, men of integrity soon find that they must either abandon politics or be corrupted to some degree themselves. Remembering that Satan is the cause of the increased godlessness, we see the futility of social and political efforts to remedy the situation. God’s Word points out the right course for individuals to take. “Be training yourself with godly devotion as your aim.” That is the Bible’s counsel. So the honest-hearted individual does something toward stemming the tide of godlessness by starting with himself. He trains himself with godly devotion, putting on what the Bible calls a “new personality.” “Strip off the old personality with its practices, and clothe yourselves with the new personality which through accurate knowledge is being renewed according to the image of the one who created it.”—1 Tim. 4:7; Col. 3:9, 10. To put on the “new personality,” take in accurate knowledge by studying God’s Word. Mentally absorb its righteous principles and apply those principles to your life. Yes, make your mind over: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and complete will of God.”—Rom. 12:2. By making your mind over and putting on the “new personality,” you safeguard yourself from the rising tide of godlessness. Do more. The Scriptural rule is: “Bad associations spoil useful habits.” So associate with those who will not spoil your good habits but who will encourage you in them. Associate with the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses; let these Christian witnesses encourage you in godly devotion.—1 Cor. 15:33. Having protected yourself against the rising tide of godlessness, extend protection to others. How? By preaching to them both by word and by example.  

The publications of Jehovah's Witnesses, as well as the discussions with them, refer to many quotations from the Bible. But why do you take your quotes from here and there in the Bible? By quoting here and there, you can prove everything, even the most fantastic doctrines!

Indeed, Jehovah's Witnesses quote from all the books of the Bible because all of its 66 books are in perfect harmony. By quoting from several books of the Bible, we want to prove the truthfulness of the teachings we spread. Even in Israel, any word had to be based on the testimony of two or three witnesses. (Matthew 18:16) This method (quoting from various places in the Bible) was used by the Son of God himself, Jesus Christ, and his faithful apostles. So in this regard, Jehovah's Witnesses follow the example of Jesus Christ and his apostles. Let's take a few examples. Jesus Christ quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures 22 times in the Sermon on the Mount, recorded by the apostle Matthew. Will anyone accuse Jesus of jumping around in Scripture Because He made 3 quotations from Exodus, 2 from Leviticus, 1 from Numbers, 6 from Deuteronomy, 1 from 2 Kings, 4 from Psalms, 3 from Isaiah and 1 from Jeremiah. By doing so, did He try to prove something wrong in order to mislead His hearers? No, but to the surprise of the people, "he taught them as one having authority and not as a scribe," because he upheld his teaching with the authority of God's written Word — Matthew 7:29. The apostle Paul, in Romans 15: 7-13, in only seven verses, quotes four times from the Hebrew Scriptures, from Deuteronomy 32:43, Isaiah 11: 1,10, Psalm 18:49, and Psalm 117: 1. Thus, like Jesus, he quoted from the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms. From these three sections of the Hebrew Scriptures, he proved that not only Jews but also pagan nations were entitled to glorify Jehovah God for His mercy toward mankind. Therefore, he urged Christian communities to welcome people of all nations, just as Jesus Christ does. Paul said: "And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written. For this cause will I confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. (Written at Psalm 18:49) And again he saith: Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. (Written at Deuteronomy 32:43) And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. (Written at Psalm 117:1) And again, Isaiah saith: There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. (Written at Isaiah 11:1, 10) Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing." 15:9-13. Should we condemn Paul for jumping here and there through the Bible to gather biblical texts to support his missionary work outside of the Jewish nation? No, for these four texts, which come from three different sections of the Bible, they were all in harmony with the prediction that the good news of God's Kingdom would reach all nations at God's appointed time. Then, a few verses below, at Romans 15:21, Paul quotes about the pagans in the book of the prophet Isaiah: "As it is written, to whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand." Tin is a quotation from Isaiah 52:15. The Jews had been told about the Kingdom of God, but that was not the case with the heathen nations. Thus, the apostle Paul, through his method of study, showed us how to use the Scriptures and how to use biblical quotations to establish, not our own teachings, nor those of any man, but the teachings of God. In his first letter, the apostle Peter quotes 34 from 10 different books of the Hebrew Scriptures, and in his second letter, Peter quotes six times from three different books of the Hebrew Scriptures. The apostle Matthew, in his Gospel, brings 122 quotations from Genesis to Malachi. It is noteworthy that out of the 39 books of the Hebrew Scriptures, he quotes from 20. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, from Matthew to Revelation, there are 365 direct quotations from Genesis to Malachi and about 375 references to those Hebrew Scriptures, a total of about 740. Today, our great privilege is to live in a special time, because all the evidence shows that we live in the "time of the end" with which this old world will end. Regarding this time, it is predicted in Daniel 12: 4 that many will "run to and fro" through the Scriptures and thus, by God's blessing, "knowledge shall be increased." Today, in addition to the Hebrew Scriptures, we have the inspired writings of the apostles and disciples of Christ. These scriptures were written for our benefit. The apostle Paul, in Romans 15: 4, says: "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."

Some argue that Christians should also fast, quoting Matthew 9:15 and Matthew 17:21 as evidence. Is this correct?

Matthew 9:15: ”And Jesus said unto them, “Can the attendants of the bridechamber mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.” (King James Version) Matthew 17:21: ”Howbeit this kind goeth (of devils) not out but by prayer and fasting.” (King James) The Mosaic law does not use the term “fast”. But in connection with the atonement day it does command, “Ye shall afflict your souls.” (Lev. 16:29-31; 23:27; Num. 29:7) This is generally understood to mean fasting. The view is supported by Ezra 8:21, Isaiah 58:3, 5 and Psalm 35:13 (But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom. - KJV). Though the atonement day was the only occasion specifically set by God as a fast day, yet on other special occasions he ordered fasts. To have value in the eyes of God, fasts were to show godly sorrow and repentance concerning past sins. (1 Sam. 7:6; Joel 1:14; 2:12-15; Jon 3:5) The Jews established many fasts, and at one time had four annual ones to mark the calamitous events of the fateful year 607 B.C. (Zech. 8:19) 12They were also fitting in the face of great danger, or when in sore need of divine guidance, or while enduring tests and meeting temptations.—2 Chron. 20:3; Ezra 8:21; Esther 4:3, 16; Matt. 4:1, 2. Proper fasting is not an ascetic afflicting of the body with hunger, as though bodily pain or discomfort were in itself meritorious. Actually, it is a natural consequence of strong emotion. If the mind is gripped by pressing problems or the heart is swayed by deep feelings the body does not crave food, and would refuse to properly digest it if it were consumed. If emotional stress is great enough it destroys the body’s natural appetites. The person’s mental and emotional faculties may be so humiliated by past transgressions, so occupied by longing for forgiveness, so concerned with resolves to avoid a repetition of sins, that no room is left for thinking of such things as food. Or the person may be faced with a serious problem, demanding reflection and meditation and concentrated study to search out Jehovah’s will and direction in the matter. The honor of Jehovah’s name may hinge on the decision or statements made. In such an engrossed state of mind one would hardly be thinking of his stomach. But what about the person who loudly talks about his sorrow for past sins, his desire for forgiveness, his resolves to reform, or his deep concern to make a right decision at a crucial time, all this time he eats food (for exemple, vegetarian)? It follows from this attitude that he cannot be very deeply concerned, despite his verbal claims. His good appetite contradicts his claim to deep concern. In this case, their fasting is limited only to an external manifestation. As an example, consider the attitude of the people of Israel. For instance, at one time the sins of the Jews were heavy, yet they did not sincerely repent. They made a pretense of worshiping Jehovah, giving him lip service and performing religious rites for show. Fasting was one of such, and they thought it should gain them divine notice and favor: “Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge?” Jehovah told them why, when saying that even during the fast they pursued their own pleasure and business, indulged in strife, oppression and violence, and showed none of the godly sorrow and repentance behind sincere fasts. The fast was not such as to make their voice heard in heaven, though their showy wailings were noisy indeed. Jehovah denounced the hypocritical act they put on: “Is such the fast that I have chosen? the day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a rush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to Jehovah?”—Isa. 58:1-5, AS. Fasting was to prove sorrow and repentance on their part, but their actions belied their claim. To be acceptable the fast must be accompanied by a correction of past sins: “Is not this the fast I choose—to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the knots of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and every yoke to snap? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and the homeless poor to bring home; when you see the naked, to cover him, and to hide not yourself from your own flesh?” (Isa. 58:6, 7, AT) These Jews had lost the spiritual discipline involved in proper fasting, had left out the spirit of genuine repentance the fast was to express. They looked upon the mere act of fasting as a means of winning favor from God. These Jews thought the very discomfort involved in afflicting the soul was meritorious and they thus thought they put God under obligation as owing them something in return. When this return was not forthcoming, they queried God about the payment they thought due them: “Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge?” The four annual fasts to lament the calamities of 607 B.C. were insincere and self-imposed. On these occasions the Jews wept and fasted as sufferers, feeling sorry for themselves and gaining some satisfaction in this self-pity; but they were not truly sorry or humbled for the sins that had brought on these calamities, that had provoked God’s wrath against them in the first place. Jehovah told them that their fasthing were hypocritical and ostentatious (made out of a desire to impress). They should cease such fasting, and rejoice in the restoration of true worship and the ingathering of others to Jehovah’s service. (Zech. 7:3-7; 8:19, 23) When Jesus was on earth it was customary for the Pharisees to fast twice a week, on the second and fifth days of the week. (Luke 18:12). These fasts were not accompanied by sincere repentance; they only satisfied their sense of superiority, as Jesus showed in Luke 18:11. Afflicting the body with self-imposed, formalistic fasting in a mock humility does not gain God’s approval: “Those very things are, indeed, possessed of an appearance of wisdom in a self-imposed form of worship and mock humility, a severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in combating the satisfying of the flesh.”—Col. 2:20-23, NW. The self-imposed and formal fast was the fast practiced by the Pharisees. Of them Jesus said to his followers: “When you are fasting, stop becoming sad-faced like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Truly I say to you, They are having their reward in full. But you, when fasting, oil your head and wash your face, that you may appear to be fasting, not to men, but to your Father who is in secrecy; then your Father who is looking on in secrecy will repay you.” (Matt. 6:16-18, NW) The Pharisees fasted for outward show, assumed gloomy and morose expressions of unfelt sorrow, and deliberately went unwashed and haggard-looking for show. To be seen of men is what they wanted, and that is all they got. Lacking genuine piety, they knew not how to express it. Their hypocrisy was apparent. None should attempt to exhibit outwardly more than they feel inwardly. Fasting to God should not be made an exhibition to men. What about Matthew 17:21, mentioned in the question? Matthew 17:21: ”Howbeit this kind goeth (of devils) not out but by prayer and fasting.” (King James) This text, as is also the case with Mark 9:29, Acts 10:30, 1 Corinthians 7:5 and 2 Corinthians 6:5, does not contain any reference to fasting, according to the most accurate manuscripts. Matthew 9:15 does not command Christians to fast. But even though Jesus Christ never commanded his disciples to fast, He and His disciples fasted on the Day of Atonement because they were under the Mosaic Law. When he died, they wept and fasted, but they did not weep after his resurrection and especially after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (Mark 2: 18-20; Luke 5: 33-35) Legea lui Moise a fost abrogat? atunci când „Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many“ . And with the repeal of the Law, the command to fast on the Day of Atonement was repealed. Thus, the only obligatory fast mentioned in the Bible was abolished. Just as the disciples were not to fast at the time of the first presence of Christ (the Bridegroom), so they do not need to now in the time of his second presence. It is a time of rejoicing, not mourning. Some say the Christian fast now is a fast from fleshly lusts or unclean food for the mind. However, this hardly fits the procedure of fasting. Fasting was to temporarily abstain from proper food. Filthy mental food or immoral bodily conduct are never proper. Abstinence from them should be permanent. They were to be deadened, impaled, and not resumed like food after a fast. (Gal. 5:24; Col. 3:5; 1 Pet. 2:11, NW) To break abstinence from such things would be fatal. (Heb. 10:26, 38, 39; 2 Pet. 2:20-22) For the Christian organization as such to fast now would be a self-imposed fast, one not commanded by God. It would be out of order now that the Bridegroom has returned and true worship has been restored. (Zech. 8:19; Matt. 9:15)

Exodus 4:11 states: “Jehovah said: Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh a man dumb, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? is it not I, Jehovah?” On the basis of this text, can Jehovah be blamed for all the dumb or deaf or blind?

This text cannot be rightly used as an argument that Jehovah God is responsible for all the dumb, deaf and blind in the earth. There are several possible views that might be taken in explanation of it. Jehovah God the Creator endowed man with speech, hearing and sight, so he can also remove these powers from man, just as he can also restore them to man where they have been lost. For instance, his angels smote the men of Sodom with blindness when they were assaulting Lot’s house. Jehovah’s Son Jesus Christ smote Saul of Tarsus with blindness for three days to turn him from his course of persecution of Christians, and thereafter divine power restored sight. The apostle Paul told the sorcerer Elymas that he would be stricken blind for a season by the hand of Jehovah, and it was so.—Gen. 19:11; Acts 9:8, 9, 17, 18; 13:8-11. The men who were accompanying Saul of Tarsus when he was struck blind were rendered deaf by Jehovah’s power as far as discerning what Jesus said to Saul. They heard the sound of the voice, but they were deaf to its articulation of words. (Acts 9:7; 22:9, NW) God told Ezekiel that at times he would be made dumb, and that later his tongue would be loosed. (Ezek. 3:26, 27; 24:27) Then there was the priest Zechariah who was smitten with dumbness because of his slowness to believe and who was relieved when his son John was born and circumcised and named. (Luke 1:20, 22, 62-64) Also Jehovah declares that at Armageddon he will strike his enemies and “their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth”.—Zech. 14:12. The foregoing are specific examples of where Jehovah literally brought deafness or dumbness or blindness upon individuals and also lifted these disabilities from them. The text certainly does not say that every case of such physical disability springs from Jehovah. From this text it does not follow that persons born blind or deaf or dumb were so disabled because of any direct intervention by Jehovah, as some argue. However, it is true that the operation of certain natural laws of Jehovah may result in deformities of one kind or another. By the first man’s rebellion sin and death came upon all men, and physical deterioration and degeneration set in as a consequence. Parents may sin and become diseased in certain ways, and their violation of Jehovah’s laws may result in some susceptibility to disease or some physical deformity’s being passed on to the offspring at birth. If such comes about by the operation of Jehovah’s natural law or by way of penalty for violating his laws, then in an indirect way he may be viewed as the source of it, though not responsible for it.—Ex. 20:5. A third possible view of the matter would be in a spiritual sense. Ears that hear God’s message but fail to grasp its significance are spiritually deaf. Eyes that see foretold events but fail to perceive their fulfillment of prophecy are spiritually blind. Tongues that speak the words of God recorded in the Bible but are unable to voice clear explanations and applications are spiritually dumb. So ears that hear and eyes that see and tongues that speak can still be deaf and blind and dumb to Jehovah’s purposes. Sometimes Jehovah makes them so, because of their unworthiness. When he sent Isaiah to testify to unfaithful Judah he said to the prophet: “Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” (Isa. 6:9, 10) Isaiah was said to have done this to them, since he spoke the words that made the rebellious people close their eyes and ears to the message. But since the message was from God, God himself may be said to have done it. These selfish people were not fit to hear and be healed by God’s message, so they were deaf and dumb and blind to it. To keep such unworthy ones in this state of spiritual darkness Jesus spoke to them in parables or illustrations, as he told his followers when they asked why he used illustrations: “This is why I speak to them by the use of illustrations, because, looking, they look in vain, and hearing, they hear in vain, neither do they get the sense of it; and toward them the prophecy of Isaiah is having fulfillment which says: ‘By hearing, you will hear but by no means get the sense of it; and, looking, you will look but by no means see. For the heart of this people has grown thick, and with their ears they have heard with annoyance, and they have shut their eyes; that they might never see with their eyes and hear with their ears and get the sense of it with their hearts and turn back, and I heal them.’” (Matt. 13:13-15, NW) The selfish people were not interested in God’s message, not even enough to inquire into the meaning of the illustrations Jesus used. So by putting the message in this form such unworthy ones were weeded out, and only the meek ones anxious to learn of God remained to question Jesus on the meaning of the illustrations. In this way Jehovah both kept some spiritually deaf, dumb and blind and made others see, hear and speak with spiritual enlightenment. Some just have no love for truth, and “for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie”. Modern translation brings out the meaning more clearly, showing that Jehovah does not deliberately delude them but merely allows Satan to delude them, since they take more pleasure in lies and unrighteousness than in truth and salvation: “The lawless one’s presence is according to the operation of Satan with every powerful work and lying signs and wonders and with every unrighteous deception for those who are perishing, as a retribution because they did not accept the love of the truth that they might be saved. So that is why God lets an operation of error go to them that they may get to believing the lie, in order that they all may be judged because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thess. 2:9-12, NW) In spiritual matters Jehovah allows Satan the god of this world to mentally blind them.—2 Cor. 4:4. Just as Jehovah makes some deaf and dumb and blind spiritually, so others he lifts out of spiritual deafness and dumbness and blindness. As Isaiah foretold of this time of spiritual enlightenment: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing.” (Isa. 35:5, 6) Spiritually, he now allows these defects to remain upon the proud and arrogant, and lifts them from the meek and lowly. Hence we see that in ways both physical and spiritual Exodus 4:11 is fulfilled by Jehovah God, but not in a way that makes him responsible for all the physically deaf, dumb and blind in the earth.  

Will children who have not reached the age of accountability and who die at Armageddon have a resurrection?

We cannot be dogmatic about this matter, as God is the judge. However, if Jehovah God expresses an adverse judgment against certain individuals, and does this through his King Christ Jesus at Armageddon, there must be some sort of finality to God’s decision. If so, those destroyed by the judgment of God in the battle of Armageddon are really destroyed. Ezekiel chapter 9 appears to refer to Armageddon, and verse 6 states, “Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark.” Those unmarked by a favorable reception of God’s warning receive no mercy from him. This is no injustice on God’s part. If it were a case of absolute justice he would spare no one, as everyone, young or old, is an imperfect sinner. It is only through the exercise of his love and mercy that anyone is preserved through Armageddon or is resurrected. Children are affected by the course of their parents, and parents are warned that their iniquity is visited on their offspring unto the third and fourth generation. (Ex. 20:5, 6) Parents are commanded to instruct their children in God’s way, and if in these last days parents refuse to heed the divine instruction and warning they bring destruction upon themselves and their small children at Armageddon. (Deut. 6:6, 7; Eph. 6:4) According to justice God can leave such children dead, for, as Ezekiel showed, all die in their iniquity. (Ezek. 3:17-19; 33:1-6) Parents should remember that their wrong course unfavorably affects their children and may bring their offspring to destruction at Armageddon, just as a right course on the part of parents may put their small children in the way of preservation during Armageddon and opportunity for eternal life in the new world to follow.    

Why do Jehovah's Witnesses not celebrate the weekly Sabbath in view of Exodus 31:16, 17?

Exodus 31:16, 17. ”The Israelites must keep the Sabbath; they must observe the Sabbath during all their generations. It is a lasting covenant. It is an enduring sign between me and the people of Israel, for in six days Jehovah made the heavens and the earth and on the seventh day he rested and refreshed himself.” However, the use of the terms perpetual and for ever as regards the weekly sabbath cannot be interpreted to mean that the Fourth Commandment as well as the other nine were to continue to apply forever and hence must apply to Christ’s disciples. hose Ten Commandments had not always been in existence toward men, not even toward the Jews. Moses, the mediator of the law covenant with Israel, says so plainly. In Deuteronomy 5:6-21 Moses recites the Ten Commandmentsa nd then, in verse 22, he adds: "These words the LORDsp ake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me." But just before reciting the Ten Commandments Moses said to the Israelites: "The LORD [Jehovah] our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. The LORDta lked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire," and spoke the Ten Commandments. (Deut. 5:1-5) Yes, the Ten Commandments had a beginning, not with their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve sons, but with the Israelites who were alive and present at Mount Horeb (or Sinai) when Moses mediated the law covenant with them. Hence the fact that the Ten Commandments have been abolished should arouse no fear and dismay in us. The law covenant cannot be taken apart, so that a part of it could be abolished, such as the ceremonial part, and a part of it remain, such as the so-called "moral" part. James 2: 10, 11 makes this point clear, saying: "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law." So then, applying this point to the question of the perpetualness of the Ten Commandmentas and all the rest of the Mosaic law, what do we see? This: that if the Fourth Commandment concerning the sabbath day was "for a perpetual covenant" with Israel and for a sign "for ever", then all Ten Commandments and all the Mosaic law, in fact, were for a perpetual covenant to endure as long as the Fourth Commandment. Conversely, if the rest of the covenant was abolished, then the Fourth Commandment went out with it also. Just how long, then, do the words perpetual and for ever, as used in Exodus 31: 16, 17 quoted above, mean? Not to eternity, so as to be beyond abolishment. The same words in the Hebrew meaning perpetual (ohldhm) and for ever (’l’ohldhm) are used with regard to the Jewish priesthood, the priesthood that descended from Moses’ brother Aaron. For example, Exodus 40: 12-16: "Thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water. And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him ; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office. And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats: and thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting [ohldhm] priesthood throughout their generations." Also as to the handling of the meal offering, the law said, at Leviticus 6: 14-23: "This is the law of the meat offering:... All the males among the children of Aaron shall eat of it. It shall be a statute for ever [ohlahm] in your generations concerning the offerings of the LORD made by fire: every one that toucheth them shall be holy .... the priest of [Aaron’s] sons that is anointed in his stead shall offer it: it is a statute for ever [ohldh,n] unto the LORn." (Num. 25:13; Lev. 24: 8, 9; and Lev. 25: 46, l’ohldhm) Such laws concerning priesthood had a physical or carnal basis ; that is, they required that the priests and their high priest must be descendants of Aaron according to the flesh. From the Bible’s use of the words perpetual, everlasting, and for ever in connection with the Aaronic priesthood and their official duties one would imagine that these would exist and continue in force to all eternity. Yet today the Aaronic or Levitical priesthood has disappeared and functions no more. Moreover, the apostle Paul explains that Jehovah God, who first established the Aaronic or Levitical priesthood, abolished it and no longer recognized it after Christ’s death and resurrection. Christ Jesus was made God’s High Priest, not according to a "carnal commandment" or a law that recognized the flesh of Aaron the Levite, but according to a new law of God and by the sworn oath of God. His priesthood is therefore superior to Aaron’s. It is after the order or rank of Melchizedek, the priest-king of Salem. So Paul explains, as follows: "Now if anything final had been really accomplished through the Levitical priesthood, for even the giving of the Law was based upon it, what further need would there have been of appointing a different priest of the priesthood of Melchizedek, instead of choosing one of the priesthood of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, a change necessarily takes place in the Law as well. "For [our Lord Jesus] of whom all this was said was related to a tribe no member of which ever officiated at the altar. For it is perfectly clear that our Lord sprang from the tribe of Judah, with reference to which Moses said nothing at all about priests. The point is still more clear in view of the fact that the appointment of the new priest resembles that of Melchizedek. for he is appointed not for possessing any legal physical qualifications [the law of a carnal command], but by virtue of a life that cannot end. For the psalm [Psalm 110, verse 4] bears witness, ’You are a priest forever, of the priesthood of Melchizedek!" So an earlier regulation is abrogated because it was poor and ineffective (for there was nothing final about the Law), and a better hope begins to dawn, through which we may approach God. And in proportion as Jesus was not appointed priest without God’s making oath to it, the agreement [the new covenant] which he guarantees is better than the old one, for God took no oath in appointing the old priests, but he made oath to his appointment, when he said to [Jesus], ’The Lord has sworn it and he will not chanqe: You are a priest forever!" The old [Aaronic] priests too had to be numerous, because death prevented their continuing in office. But He [Jesus] continues forever, and so his priesthood’is untransferable."--Heb. 7: D-24, Goodspeed. The ”law of a carnal commandment" which made Aaron and his sons Levitical priests was not sinful; it merely recognized the flesh of Aaron’s family. It was not against the Jews nor contrary to them. Not at all; for this law provided for typical sacrifices for their sins and their typical restoration to God’s favor. This law was not weak, unprofitable, poor, ineffective, and useless in itself; but the weakness, unprofitableness, and ineffectiveness about it lay with the weak, imperfect, sin-stricken, dying priests of the line of Aaron the Levite. Hence, when Christ offered up and presented to God his human sacrifice as God’s High Priest, that former law and its Aaronic priesthood were abolished. That means that the old law covenant, of which the priesthood-law was a part, was abolished. Hence it means that the Ten Commandments were abolished too as an integral part of that old law covenant. The use of the Hebrew word ohldhm, translated perpetual, everlasting, and for ever, in connection with the Fourth Commandament, respecting the weekly sabbath, does not argue against its abolition any more than against the abolition of the Levitical priesthood. Ohldhm (from ahldm, to wrap up, hide, or conceal) simply means indefinite or uncertain time, whether eternity or a limited space of time whose limit is concealed from man and unknown beforehand to man.

What is the significance of the bread and wine used by Jesus in instituting the Memorial?

Matthew 26: 26-28: ”And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it; and he gave to the disciples, and said: Take, eat; this is my body. And he took a cup, and gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins.” What is meant by Jesus' words about broken bread:  „this is my body”? These words, seen in the light of other scriptural texts, do not support the religious doctrine of transubstantiation (the fact that the bread really became the flesh of Jesus) nor does it support the doctrine of consubstantiation (Jesus' flesh was actually present in the bread and combined with it). Jesus did no miracle there. His body was intact; for this reason, the broken bread could not be and could not symbolize, His literal body, the flesh. No bones from the typical Passover lamb were left broken (Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12). In Psalm 34:20 it is written about the literal body of Jesus, the Lamb of God: „He keepeth all his bones: Not one of them is broken”. The apostle John draws attention to the fulfillment of this prophecy concerning Jesus when he was crucified (John 19: 33-36). The correct translation of this verse is:”Take, eat; this means my body” – Matthew 26:26, Moffat translation. Jesus' words "my body" mean the great spiritual body, that is, "the body of Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 18, 27). Christ's royal body consists of 144,000 members. They will be associated with Jesus in the heavenly Kingdom. (Revelation 7: 4-8; 14:1, 3) The head of the body is Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:18). He leads and is above all members of the body (Ephesians 1: 22, 23). Then „he took a cup, and gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of it; for this means my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins". (Matthew 26:27, 28, Moffat) A blessing was said for every glass of wine during the Passover. The cup mentioned above was not the first glass, but one of the glasses to be drunk after eating the Passover lamb. Before he passed around, beginning with the disciple on his right hand, Jesus uttered a blessing. Jesus used the blood of grapes to commemorate His death. The wine or "fruit of the vine" in that glass was not turned into His literal blood because Jesus had not yet shed His blood. If the wine in that glass had been literally turned into blood, and then drunk it would have been forgiveness or a cleansing of sins, then it would not have been necessary for Jesus to be crucified on a pillar. Things could have been easier, miraculously turning the wine into blood that had never been in his literal body. Just as broken bread was used to symbolize something greater than the flesh of Jesus, so the glass of wine was used to symbolize something more comprehensive than His literal blood. Blood signifies life: „the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11). God's law forbade the consumption of blood, and Jesus obeyed the divine rule (Deuteronomy 12:23). So, shed blood means the death (Matthew 27:25; Acts 5:28; Revelation 16:3). The contents of the cup that Jesus handed out to His disciples symbolized His shed blood or death and the suffering that accompanied it. The cup is the new covenant, based on the blood of Jesus (Luke 22:20).

“I and my Father are one” Is this something to make us believe in a holy trinity?

“I and my Father are one”  John 10:30. By these words Jesus did not say that he and his Father together made one God, coequal and coeternal. If you argue that he was saying this, as trinitarians do, then you must also believe that all of Christ’s followers become God: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” Just as Jesus is one with God, so are the followers of Jesus one with God. There is oneness in belief and purpose and work. The Bible speaks of one man planting and another watering to get an increase, and because both work with the same end in view it states: “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one.” In this sense God and Jesus and Jesus’ followers are one. John 17:20, 21; 1 Cor. 3:8. Before Jesus came to earth, while he was in heaven as a spirit creature, existing in God’s form, since he too was then in spirit form, he “gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God.” When on earth as the man Jesus he said he was not equal to God: “The Father is greater than I am.” After his resurrection and return to heaven as a spirit creature and his reigning there “the Son himself will also subject himself to the one who subjected all things to him, that God may be all things to everyone.” So before Jesus came to earth, and when he was on earth, and after he returned to heaven, he was and is and always will be beneath Jehovah. “The head of the Christ is God.” Christ and God are not coequal, as trinitarians contend. Phil. 2:6; John 14:28; 1 Cor. 15:28; 11:3, NW. They are not coeternal, as supporters of the trinity teaching say. Of Jehovah it is written: “Even from eternity to eternity thou art God.” He is called “the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity” and “the king of eternity.” Hence he was not born, was not created, had no beginning. But this is not true of Jesus Christ, for he is called “the firstborn of all creation,” “the beginning of the creation by God.” Ps. 90:2; Isa. 57:15; Jer. 10:10, Da; Col. 1:15, 16; Rev. 3:14, NW. However, this point, often overlooked, should be remembered: the trinity doctrine says God and Christ and the holy spirit are three persons making the one true God. That means three in one. John 10:30 speaks of only two being one. That has nothing to do with trinity, the three-in-one doctrine. Only 1 John 5:7 in the King James and Douay Bible versions can be construed to support trinity, and that text is spurious and is left out of most modern Bible versions. No authentic Bible text supports the trinity doctrine.  

Why do Jehovah’s witnesses believe human creatures will live forever on the earth, since the Bible declares that the earth is to be burned up?

     It is true that the Bible says: “The heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” But it is also true that the Bible says: “The earth abideth for ever.” These statements seem contradictory. Actually, when properly understood they are not.—2 Pet. 3:7; Eccl. 1:4. Referring to the attitude of scoffers in the last days, 2 Peter 3:5-7 (NW) says: “For, according to their wish, this fact escapes their notice, that there were heavens in ancient times and an earth standing compactly out of water and in the midst of water by the word of God, and by those means the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water. But by the same word the heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.” The apostle Peter here refers to the flood of Noah’s time. The heavens and earth “of that time” were destroyed by water, Peter says. But those flood waters destroyed neither the literal heavens nor the literal planet earth, for these things remain to this day. What was destroyed? The demonic system or arrangement of Satan over men and the ungodly peoples of earth. They were symbolized by “heavens” and “earth.” We are told that “all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom.” The earth has no ears to hear; it was the people who went to hear Solomon. “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad,” the psalmist wrote, meaning the inhabitants of heaven and earth.—1 Ki. 10:24; Ps. 96:11. So “the heavens and the earth that are now,” and which are reserved for destruction, are the invisible wicked heavens of Satan and his demons and the ungodly peoples of earth. It is of these evil heavens and earth that Revelation 20:11 (NW) says: “From before him the earth and the heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.” After this there will be the “new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” Not a new starry vault overhead, but a new symbolic heavens, Christ and his joint heirs reigning from heaven; not a new planet beneath, but a new symbolic earth, obedient peoples devoted to righteousness. Incidentally, if the earth that is to be burned up is literal so are the heavens that are to go up in smoke with the earth; hence what deliverance will it be for those expecting to be saved from this fire to be caught up into heaven?—2 Pet. 3:13, NW. Since the heavens and earth to be destroyed by fire are symbolical, just as the heavens and earth destroyed by the Flood were, there is no contradiction when the Bible says that the literal “earth abideth for ever.” And if the earth is to abide forever it will be inhabited forever because “thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens, the God that formed the earth and made it, that established it and created it not a waste, that formed it to be inhabited: I am Jehovah; and there is none else.”—Isa. 45:18, AS.  

When, how and to whom do Jesus’ words from Luke 20:34-36 apply?

“And they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.”(Luke 20:34-36). How can this scripture be applied when all the inhabitants of Earth will be undergoing Satan’s last trial at the end of the thousand years reign? First we must understand for whom were written these words. They are addressed to those belonging to the thief class, or to the people who have sinned without volition and who will be privileged to be resurrected at the end of Christ` millennial reign. It is written about them: “and those who have done what is evil will rise to be judged”. The actions for which they will be judged are not their past ones, done while Satan was deceiving the whole world and most of the human kind died without ever hearing about the Bible. The actions on which their final judgment will be based on are their future ones, after they would have been resurrected and known God’s will. Only in this way could they be judged “upon their actions”. Those who will dedicate their life to the divine will, are going receive the blessings of the Kingdom, but not the right to  marry and have children because, by that point, the earth will have been completely populated. The words of Luke the Evangelist: “And they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection” do not mean that they will reach immortality. The angels are not immortal, but they are subject to Jesus Christ, who was rewarded with immortality. The man is “little lower than the angels” and thus, to be “like the angels” means that these resurrected people will not marry. (Psalms 8:5) Through obeisance and faithfulness during the judgment day, they are regenerated by Jesus Christ, “the Eternal Father”. Then God approves, justifies and gives them the right to eternal life in Paradise on earth. Thus, justifiably so, “they cannot die”, because they continue to be faithful. They enter “that world”, the new one, “a world without end”. God warrants them a life without end and protects their right to it. They only receive that justification and right to life at the end of Christ’s millennial reign. As it is written: “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.” Revelation 20:5. The difficulty in understanding the phrase “they cannot die” is due to the fact that some people apply it before the end of Christ’s millennial reign. Some will die on earth due to succumbing to Satan, when he will be unleashed for a short period of time. But Jesus’ words cited above apply to the time after the end of the thousand years and after Satan will have been unleashed and destroyed along those on earth who will be following him then. This will happen after the faithful people will have passed the final test and thus Jehova God will have justified them to eternal life and will have become, in a direct sense, their Father and they -  “God’s children”. Yes, at that time will the Scripture “they can no longer die” apply, rightfully so, by the hand of any other creature.

Are there dead souls?

The Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament (page 829) cites Numbers 6:6 and says: ”He must not go near a dead body(lit: a dead soul)”. Rotherham’s translation of the Bible of Numbers 6:6 says: “He shall not enter to any dead person”, but his footnote for the “dead person” says: literally: “no soul of somebody who is dead” In our usual Bible, the Hebrew word nephesh is translated for the most part (428 times) as “soul”, although, eight times the same word is translated as “dead body”. If about a soul who lived and died cannot be spoken of as a “dead body”, how can be the word nephesh constantly used in Hebrew to mean “dead body”? Ask yourself this as you read Numbers 9:6,7,10 and Haggai 2:13. At Numbers 19:11,13 we read: “The one who touches the dead body of any [footnote: soul of mankind] person will also be unclean for seven days. Anyone who touches a dead body, the body of a person who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of the Lord; and that person shall be cut off from Israel.” Here, verse 13 uses nephesh two times, once being translated as “dead body” and once as “soul”. Rotherham conveys verse 13 as follows: “Whoever touches the dead, the person of the human being who has died, and does not purify himself of sin, has defiled Yahweh’s dwelling; and that person shall be cut from Israel. Both times, Rotherham conveys nephesh as “person”, first to refer to the dead and then to refer to the living. But Englishman's Concordance renders: Whomever touches the dead body of someone (lit. the dead, the soul of the dead)”. Certainly, upon death a living soul will cease to exist, but the human body, who once was an integral part of that living soul, will continue to exist for a time. Thus, such a body will represent a soul who ceased to exist, meaning a dead soul. For as long as a person lives, it is right to speak about them that they are alive or living. If the person has died, it would be right to speak about the dead body as a dead person, wouldn’t it? Why? Because that person lived at some point, and that body would not be alive, but dead. If somebody, say a Mr. X, would have never lived and died, it would not be right to speak of him as a dead soul or dead person. But if he lives and dies in time, then it would be right to speak of him as a dead person, even one hundred years after he  died and his body disintegrated into shapeless dust. At least the Hebrews would speak biblically about him this way, but those believing in human immortality, those who refuse to admit that a person is a soul and when a person dies, in fact a soul dies, those would object to such thing.

Isaiah 7:14 foretells that Messiah was to be called “Immanuel”, yet Jesus was not so called. Why not?

That this prophecy was adequately fulfilled by Christ Jesus is made clear in Matthew’s Gospel. If it had not had its proper fulfillment then Matthew would not have had the grounds to call specific notice to it, as he did in chapter 1 verses 22, 23 (NW): “All this actually came about for that to be fulfilled which was spoken by Jehovah through his prophet, saying, ‘Look! the virgin will become pregnant and will give birth to a son, and they will call his name “Immanuel”,’ which means, when translated, ‘With us is God.’” The important thing is that this name had meaning, and Jesus fulfilled that meaning. He was Jehovah’s Representative, Jehovah’s Anointed One, the Christ or Messiah. In sending the Messiah to the Jews God showed that he was with them, not against them. He continued with the faithful Jewish remnant that accepted Jesus the Messiah, and he is with those who accept Christ the enthroned King at this time. Other names were foretold for the Messiah. For example, Isaiah 9:6 states concerning him: “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Yet all of these names were not used toward Jesus as personal names by which to call him. He lived up to the meaning of these names, and that is the sense in which they were prophetically given, to show his qualities and the good offices he would perform for the obedient ones. So with the name Immanuel. He measured up to its meaning and thus fulfilled the prophecy assigning it to the Messiah, even though Jesus and not Immanuel was used as his personal name, which also was very meaningful.—Matt. 1:21.  

Why should we read the Bible? Which translation should we choose?

PRACTICALLY all books grow old and out of date. Either they are revised and corrected or they are discarded as relics of the past. Thousands simply die with their authors. The one outstanding exception, of course, is the Bible. The world’s oldest book, yet it is still as fresh and true as when its first pages were written more than 3,460 years ago. No other book, in whole or in part, has been translated into a thousand languages and more. No other book has penetrated so many countries and influenced so many people. Upon the Bible many civil laws and judicial decisions are founded. However, the Bible has not always enjoyed such popularity; often its enemies have greatly outnumbered its friends. No story is packed with more horrors and tragedies than that which tells of the Bible’s fight to live. Truly, had the Author of this book, Jehovah God, not also been its Preserver, it would not have endured down to this twentieth century! And why was this Word of God preserved until now? The apostle Paul declares that it was written for our comfort and hope, and to serve as a warning to us upon whom the accomplished end of this system of things has arrived. (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17, NW) Therefore, in this most critical time, when all the “brilliant” leaders of this benighted old world are but fireflies in the darkness, how true the psalmist expresses the thoughts of God-fearing men today: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Ps. 119:105) Walking in this divine light leads up the highway to the new world, concerning which the Bible is bursting with descriptive promises. Just think of it, a paradise earth free from crimes, calamities, sicknesses, wars and death itself! At the great battle of Armageddon everything belonging to this old world, including its plans and promises, will topple and fall. Why not, therefore, put your hope and trust in something that will endure? Yes, God’s Word will survive this old world, and its principles and precepts will become theocratic law of the new world. So if you want to survive with the Bible and live in that glorious new world, you must begin now to study and follow its counsel. Do you have a Catholic Douay Bible? Read it! Do you have the Jewish Leeser translation? Read it! Do you have the King James Version? Read it! Or if you want a real thrill in understanding, get the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, in modern English! After reading and studying God’s ‘word of truth’ (John 17:17, NW), you too will catch up the proclamation first made by Isaiah, and repeated by the apostle Peter eight hundred years later: “The word spoken by Jehovah endures forever.”—Isa. 40:8; 1 Pet. 1:25, NW.  

Why did Jesus tell healed ones to tell no one of the miracles performed on them, and why did he tell his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ?

After two blind men had received sight from Jesus, he “sternly charged them, saying: ‘See that nobody gets to know it.’” (Matt. 9:30, NW) After cleansing a leper Jesus “gave him strict orders and at once sent him away, and said to him: ‘See you tell nobody a thing, but go show yourself to the priest and offer in behalf of your cleansing the things Moses directed, for the purpose of a witness to them.’” But the man spread abroad the account of the miracle “so that Jesus was no longer able to enter openly into a city” because of the throngs that hindered his movements. (Mark 1:40-45, NW) After curing a man that was deaf and afflicted with a speech impediment Jesus “charged them not to tell anyone”. (Mark 7:33-36, NW) Christ Jesus did this because he did not want to be publicly advertised in the streets and have the populace make their decision regarding him on the basis of such circulated reports. He wanted the people to see and hear for themselves and decide on the basis of their own personal experience with him. It was for this same reason that he charged his disciples not to advertise him as the Messiah. Instead of publicizing this in the streets and raising this issue for settlement in such public places, on the basis of the reports of the disciples, let each one investigate and make his own decision on the basis of the evidence. Hence it was that when Jesus asked his disciples who men said he was he found that some thought him Elijah, or John the Baptist, or Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets. Then he asked his disciples what they thought, and Peter expressed their belief, “You are the Christ.” “Then he sternly charged the disciples not to say to anybody that he was the Christ.” Let everyone make his own decision, just as this discussion with his disciples showed that they were doing, and coming to various conclusions. They had the Hebrew Scriptures and knew the prophecies concerning the Messiah, and they could see Jesus’ works and hear his words. Let them decide.—Matt. 16:13-20, NW. Thus when nettled Jews said irritably, “If you are the Christ, tell us outspokenly,” Jesus replied, “The works which I am doing in the name of my Father, these bear witness about me.” (John 10:24, 25, NW) It is true that Jesus did acknowledge to the Samaritan woman at the well that he was the Messiah, and she told the men of her city, and these Samaritan men came and heard Jesus. But note that their decision was based on what they heard Jesus say, and not on what the woman had told them: “They began to say to the woman: ‘We do not believe any longer on account of your talk; for we have heard for ourselves and we know that this man is for a certainty the savior of the world.’” (John 4:7-42, NW) Only after he was put under oath before the chief priests and Sanhedrin would he identify himself as the Messiah to them, but before he did even then he said, “That was for you to say.” It was for them to say whether he was the Messiah or not, on the basis of the evidence. The decision was for them to make, their responsibility. (Matt. 26:63, 64, NW) Similarly, when before Pilate and that official asked whether Jesus was a king, Jesus said, “It is for you to say that I am a king.” The decision was for Pilate to make.—John 18:37, NW. So Jesus did not want men to believe on him because others had talked them into it. He wanted them to decide for themselves whether his words and acts fulfilled the prophecies concerning the Messiah or not. He did not want any decision to be based on excited reports passed from mouth to mouth and enlarged upon, or on noisy advertising of him in the streets. He was not out for publicity of that kind, as the Pharisees were. (Matt. 6:2, 5) The Bible establishes this at Matthew 12:15-19 (NW): “He cured them all, but he strictly charged them not to make him manifest; that it might be fulfilled what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, who said: ‘Look! my servant whom I chose, my beloved, whom my soul approved! I will put my spirit upon him, and he will make clear to the nations what judgment is. He will not wrangle, nor cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the broad ways.’” (Isa. 42:2) So Jesus’ prohibition on the promiscuous advertising of his miracles and Messiahship was in fulfillment of prophecy.  

Is the parastas a Christian practice?

THE Serbian-Orthodox believers of Yugoslavia practice worship of the dead. On “All Souls’ Day” every family visits the cemetery with baskets full of eatables. A specially prepared sacrificial cake must not be missing. It is a cake prepared from pure wheat, milk, honey and cinnamon, and everyone coming to the grave, whether he knew the dead person or not, is offered a spoonful and eats it. This cake is offered at the so-called “Parastos celebration” (memorial to the dead), which is held in the home every year on the anniversary of the death of a member of the family. All relatives and friends are invited to it. When making a return call on a daughter of a deceased priest, a woman minister of Jehovah’s witnesses unsuspectingly came upon the family just as they were celebrating the Parastos ceremony. As she entered the room she suddenly found herself faced with a whole group of people, which included two students of theology of the Orthodox church. There the witness stood! The hostess handed her a spoon and held out the Parastos cake. It is the custom, you see, for a visitor to partake of the cake before being introduced. As she took hold of the spoon she asked if she could raise a question. Since so many were present, surely she would receive the right answer. “Of course you may ask a question,” the hostess replied. The witness proceeded: “Let us assume that your brother has been accused and imprisoned and you engaged the services of a lawyer to bring about his release. You pay this lawyer again and again for his work. Now, let us say, after two years, have you the right to ask the lawyer how far he has got toward the release of your brother?” “Yes, certainly!” came the reply. “And is the lawyer obligated to inform you as to his progress and what prospects there may be of your brother’s release?” “Of course!” they said. “All right, then,” said the witness as she turned to the lady of the house. “Your father died many years ago, and at least once a year, on Parastos day, you pay a lot of money for mass, for parastosse and the ceremonies at the grave. The priests say that your father may go to heaven. Have you ever asked the priest how far your father has got on his way? Surely he ought to know. It may be that your father is already there and there is no further need for masses and these ceremonies. Can anyone here answer my question?” Silence descended on the company. No one answered. The eyes of all centered on the two students of theology. But the men found themselves in an embarrassing situation. The witness laid down the spoon without having taken the sacrificial cake. Then one student broke the silence, saying: “It is an audacity to make such a comparison and to disturb and degrade this sublime ceremony to such a level.” “Why audacious?” asked a resolute-thinking Serbian woman. “These questions were really excellent and they fit the facts.” “Quite right,” said another. “You should be able to give expert answers to these questions. Why do you try to get out of the situation by resorting to insults?” Now an aunt spoke up: “I shall ask our pater these same questions at the very next opportunity. For twenty years now I have paid no end of money for mass and parastosse for my dead Jovan, and he must surely be where he belongs by now. Why should I still pinch and scrape to get these amounts together each year?” Turning to the witness, the woman asked: “What religion do you belong to?” “I am a Christian,” she replied simply. Then she showed what the Bible says about the soul, that it is mortal. She explained what death is and its cause and the hope of the dead, that is, a resurrection. All listened attentively. She closed by promising to call the next day. A Bible study is now being held in this home. The two aunts attend Bible lectures with the interested lady. The truth is setting many free from false religion. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.—John 8:32.  

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