Jacob—Not A Thief.
Question (1975)—Did Jacob steal the birthright from his brother Esau, and was he therefore a thief?
Answer.—Many Bible teachers and others claim that Jacob was a thief. But the Bible in the New Testament (Heb. 12:16) tells us plainly that Esau “for one morsel of meat sold his birthright”; and in the Old Testament record (Gen. 25:29-34) it states clearly that he “sold his birthright unto Jacob” and bound the sale with an oath, for “Esau despised his birthright.”
Much light is thrown on the story of Jacob and Esau and the birthright by the knowledge that archeologists and historians have given us on the duty of a firstborn to fast and the afterborn to feast on the birthday anniversary of a notable ancestor, especially of one the bulk of whose wealth was to be transmitted to a firstborn descendant; and that for the firstborn to feast on such an ancestral birthday anniversary was a renunciation of the birthright, while any younger brother, fasting in his place, would thereby gain the birthright. Accordingly, Esau evidently asked Jacob on Abraham’s birthday anniversary to fast in his place, while Esau feasted in Jacob’s place, thus forfeiting the birthright!
Jacob knew of the great blessings of God’s Covenant made with his grandfather Abraham. He appreciated the Covenant greatly and discerned that his brother Esau did not appreciate it. So he bought it from his brother at the latter’s own estimation of its value.
Surely the circumstances and results of Esau’s and Jacob’s course on that day are perfectly clear in the light of this oriental custom. Esau’s refusing to fast on that day and his despising the birthright as of less value than the pottage, and Jacob’s willingness to give up his pottage and fast instead of Esau on that day, fit well into the usages connected with certain features of that custom. From this standpoint Jacob’s doubting Esau’s willingness to give up the very valuable birthright for such a poor return could be set aside by nothing short of Esau’s oath.
Their conduct on that day seems to imply something like the following conversation as having taken place between them: Jacob said: “You must be joking, Esau, in offering me the birthright for this mess of pottage! Do you really mean to give up the birthright for this pottage? If you do, I will gladly give it to you and fast in your place.”
To this Esau replied: “Of course I mean it; for I have no confidence in the Covenant promises.” Still doubting Esau’s sincerity, Jacob, as is the oriental custom in such cases even to this day, said: “Swear it and I will believe it.” This Esau did in unbelief, giving up the fast for the feast, and Jacob in faith gave up the feast for the fast.
No wonder God is set forth as saying (Rom. 9:13), “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated [loved less; see The New Creation, p. 172; compare Deut. 21:15-17]. No wonder that Esau’s unbelief in God’s Oath-bound Covenant made God hate him—disapprove and disesteem him; and no wonder that Jacob’s faith and desire for God’s favor and blessing made God love him—approve and esteem him. In the light of this oriental custom, Jacob stands vindicated and Esau condemned, just as the Scriptures set forth the entire matter. ’75-85; ’79-54
Jacob—Did He And Rebekah Do Wrong In Their Deception Of Isaac.
Question (1975)—Did Rebekah and Jacob do wrong in their deception of Isaac?
Answer.—It is not for us to defend Jacob and his mother in their misrepresentation of the facts—in the deception of Isaac. It is not for us to recommend any others to follow such a course. However, not a word of condemnation is given to Rebekah or to Jacob in the Scriptures in respect to this matter or to Jacob’s purchase of the birthright or his claiming it as rightfully his. No teacher in the name of the Lord, therefore, has the right to be wiser than that which is written in God’s Word, and to declare that Jacob was a thief.
Among the Arabs it is still considered proper in mercy to deceive the aged for the purpose of sparing them from sorrow. Rebekah and Jacob knew that if Isaac would learn that his firstborn son had so despised his birthright that he had sold it for a mess of pottage, it would cause him much heartache and sorrow. Hence they arranged by deception to spare him from dying of a broken heart.
Esau was dishonest in attempting to steal, without regard to his father’s feelings, the birthright that he had sold to Jacob, and that with an oath. He seems to have feared that the blessing of the firstborn would carry the bulk of Isaac’s estate to Jacob, for which he threatened to kill Jacob (Gen. 27:41, 42). Obviously it was the earthly things that Esau desired and not the Covenant blessing of God through Abraham. When Jacob fled for his life and left behind all the earthly inheritance in Esau’s hands, the latter seemed satisfied. And Jacob, too, was satisfied, because he got the portion, which he specially desired and prized above everything else.
When Jacob had questioned the advisability of the deception, his mother assumed full responsibility (vs. 12, 13), for she remembered the revelation that God had given her (Gen. 25:23), that ‘the elder shall serve the younger.” Thus, relying on the word of promise, and with full assurance of faith, she, at considerable risk, was willing to act in harmony with God’s revealed will that Jacob should receive the birthright with its accompanying blessing. And as their mother she knew the profane and unsuitable character of Esau—that he considered the higher blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant as of little value, whereas Jacob yearned for these blessings, for which he was willing to give up earthly advantages, hence she acted accordingly.
Rebekah and Jacob both knew that Esau had sold his birthright to Jacob, and that therefore Jacob was merely claiming the accompanying blessing, which was rightfully his. They knew also that Esau, in utter disregard of his agreement bound with an oath to Jacob, was dishonestly seeking to obtain the birthright blessing, which he had sold to Jacob with the birthright and to which no longer had a just claim. Furthermore, they knew that the irreligious Esau cared only for the property that he thought would go with the birthright blessing, as was later demonstrated.
God evidently approved of the course of Rebekah and Jacob and their acting by faith in Him, for shortly afterward God appeared to Jacob in a dream and confirmed that Covenant to him (Gen. 28:10-15).
The Apostle Paul informs us (Rom. 9:10-14; Heb. 12:16, 17) that in Esau and Jacob. God was working out a type. Esau, rejected from the higher favor—the birthright with its accompanying benefits—but obtaining a lower favor—Isaac’s property—types Fleshly Israel, rejected from the higher favor—the privilege of the Divine nature and Joint-heirship with Christ—but yet obtaining the lower blessing—the chief place among the nations on earth during the Millennium; and Jacob receiving the higher blessing—the birthright and its attendant blessings and losing the lower blessing—Isaac’s property—types Spiritual Israel, receiving the Divine nature and Joint-heirship with Christ, and losing the lower blessing—the chief place among the nations on earth during the Millennium.
Surely God was just in what He did in connection with the types—Esau and Jacob—even as He is just in what He has done and will do for their antitypes—Fleshly Israel and Spiritual Israel. ’75-86; ’79-55
Jairus’—Daughter Not Resurrected.
Question (1974)—Would it be proper to say that Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:35-43) was resurrected when Jesus awakened her from the sleep of death?
Answer.—Under the curse of Adamic death, all of Adam’s race are born in a dying condition (Rom. 5:12). “In Adam all die” (1 Cor. 15:22); mankind die gradually from the cradle to the grave. Jairus’ daughter therefore never had life in the full sense of the word; and she was not resurrected, not raised up to the perfect human life that Adam lost for her by his sin of disobedience. She was merely awakened to consciousness and returned to the condition of a dying life; and in due time she died again, as did Lazarus also, after Jesus awakened him from the sleep of death.
The real meaning of the resurrection, as a promise set forth in the Scriptures, has been very generally lost sight of, partly because our English word resurrection is used in a variety of ways. For instance, it is not uncommon to speak of “resurrecting” an article of clothing which had been for a long time laid aside; and when a graveyard is abandoned it is common to speak of “resurrecting” the remains of the dead bodies which had been buried therein for removal and re-burial.
Approaching more closely to the legitimate use of the word, many Christian people speak of the resurrection of Lazarus, the resurrection of the widow of Nain’s son, the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter, etc., and carry the same thought in their minds when they speak of the resurrection promises of the Scriptures, which are to be fulfilled during our Lord’s Second Presence, in the Resurrection Day, the Thousand-year Reign of Christ on earth. This grievous mistake has greatly beclouded the thoughts of many on this important subject.
It is not true that Jairus’ daughter and the others just mentioned were resurrected; they were merely awakened reanimated. There is a wide difference between a mere awakening and a full, complete resurrection out of death to perfection of life. To awaken from the sleep of death signifies merely to start again the machinery of life—resuscitation—and this is all that was done for Jairus’ daughter, the widow of Nain’s son and Lazarus. They were still under the sentence of death, and merely experienced a little prolongation of the present dying conditions. They were not lifted up, raised up out of death, into perfect life conditions.
The word “resurrection” is translated from the Greek word anastasis, which occurs in the New Testament forty-two times, and means to stand again, or to raise up again. It is never used concerning the mere revivifying or starting afresh the machinery of the life of the body. It means something far more important. It is used as the antithesis, or opposite, of death--the full recovery out of death.
To get a proper view of the meaning of anastasis we must have first of all a proper view of what constitutes life from the Divine standpoint. We must then see what constitutes dying and death; and with these two thoughts before our minds we may grasp the thought of resurrection, or raising up again out of the death state and the dying condition into the full perfection of life, from which we all in Adam fell.
Only two men ever possessed perfect life: first, Adam, before his transgression, before he brought upon himself the curse or sentence of death and its process of dying; and second, the man Christ Jesus. The moment the death sentence was pronounced against Adam his perfect life was forfeited, the dying process began, and he was in death, hence no longer in life. He kept sinking lower and lower into death, until finally he was completely dead, as he was legally dead in God’s sight from the moment of the sentence.
Adam’s posterity has never had perfect life; the spark which flickers for a few years is not recognized by God, in view of the fact that the death sentence rests upon all, and in view of the fact that those born into the world do not receive life in the full sense of that word, but merely a dying condition. From God’s standpoint, the world of mankind in general are legally dead—”dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1); and Jesus confirmed this thought when He said, “Let the dead bury their dead” (Matt. 8:22; Luke 9:60). God recognizes as having life (even reckonedly because of their faith) only those who by accepting Jesus as their Savior and Ruler have become united to the Son of God, the Redeemer of men, the Life-giver.
If this thought of what constitutes life and what constitutes dying is kept in mind, if it is remembered from what a glorious height and perfection of life man fell into the present condition of degradation and death, then, and then only, can the meaning of the word anastasis be rightly appreciated as signifying a standing again, a raising up again to the condition from which the fall took place to the condition of perfection in which father Adam was created. It is to this condition of perfection that God purposes to bring all who will of the world of mankind through Christ. The condition is that when brought to the knowledge of the Truth they shall accept Divine favor, and demonstrate their loyalty by obedience to the spirit of the Divine Law (1 Tim. 2:3-6; Isa. 11:9; Acts 3:19-23).
To have resurrected Jairus’ daughter would have meant that Jesus had lifted her completely out of death in every sense of the word, out of physical, mental, moral and religious degradation, up to the grand heights of perfection from which Adam fell. This was not done. Jesus merely awakened her from the sleep of death, leaving her upon the same plane of death on which she had been born, and had thus far lived in a dying state for twelve years. She will still have her opportunity of sharing in the general “resurrection by judgment” (John 5:29, A.S.V.), i.e., restitution during the Millennial Age—unless at some subsequent time before she died again she accepted the Gospel of the Lord Jesus and became one of His followers, a member of the Church, in which event she would, if faithful, have been accounted worthy of a part in the chief or first resurrection, to glory, honor and immortality, and have an inheritance in heaven (2 Pet. 1:4; Rev. 20:4, 6). ’74-6
Jealousy—Envy And Covetousness.
Question (1984)—Are jealousy, envy and covetousness ever used in a good sense in the Scriptures?
Answer.—Jealously in regard to persons may be defined as (1) suspicion of rivalry for, or of unfaithfulness by, someone or ones whose affections and loyalty one has or feels he or she has a right to claim for himself or herself, or (2) watchfulness in guarding, and a proper possessiveness in respect to the affections and/or loyalty of another or others whose affections and loyalty one has a right to claim for himself or herself. Jealousy may also be such an (1) extreme or (2) proper possessiveness in regard to one’s profession; special privileges, prerogatives, station in life, valuable things, etc.
Jealousy in sense (1) is the proverbial green-eyed monster, a suspicious, extreme possessiveness, which will, e.g., hardly let one’s spouse get out of sight without suspecting unfaithfulness. Its suspicion and distrust tend to shrivel and destroy love and happiness. On the other hand, jealousy in sense (2), a proper watchful possessiveness, in regard to a spouse, does those things, such as giving attention, time, appropriate gifts and compliments, companionship and conjugal love, that tend to and usually do keep the husbandly or wifely affections of the spouse for oneself alone.
Regarding (1) improper jealousy, the Bible says, “Jealousy is cruel as the grave [sheol]: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame” (Cant.) 8:6; Prov. 6:34; compare Sept. 5 Daily Heavenly Manna book comments).
But as to (2), proper jealousy, a watchful, proper possessiveness, the Scriptures refer frequently to Jehovah’s jealousy, for He desires our religious affections, devotion and loyalty to be for Himself alone. In Ex. 20:5; 34:14 we read, “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (see also Deut. 4:24; 5:9; 6:15; Josh. 24:19; Nah. 1:2; Zeph. 3:8; Zech. 1:14; 8:2). 2 Cor. 11:2 says, “For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”
Envy may be defined as a discontented or resentful awareness of, and desire for, one or more of another‘s advantages, possessions, etc. Unlike wrong jealousy, an improper possessiveness for that to which one has a right or supposed right, envy inordinately desires advantages, possessions, etc., that belong to another or others.
Envy is never regarded as a good quality in the Scriptures, but is one of the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21, 26), which will, if not overcome, keep one from inheriting a share in the Kingdom. Other Scriptures likewise counsel against envy (Prov. 3:31; 14:30; 23:17; 27:4; Rom. 1:29; 13:13; 1 Cor. 3:3; 2 Cor. 12:20; 1 Tim. 6:4; Titus 3:3; James 3:14-16; 4:5).
Some Biblical examples are Cain’s envying Abel (Gen. 4:4-8), Joseph’s brethren envying him (Gen. 37:3-11, 18-20; Acts 7:9). Miriam and Aaron envying Moses (Num. 12:10), Korah, Dathan and Abriam envying Moses (Num. 16:3; Psa. 106:16-18), Saul envying David (1 Sam. 18:8, 9, 29; 20:31), the princes of Babylon envying Daniel (Dan. 6:4), the priests envying Jesus (Matt. 27:18; Mark 15:10; John 11:47-54) and Jews envying the Apostle Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:45; 17:5).
Covetousness is in many respects like envy: covetousness may be defined as (a) an inordinate eager desire for obtaining and having possessions, advantages, etc., belonging to others; (b) in old English it meant to have the same eager desire, but without it being inordinate, sinful. In this good sense (b), the Apostle says in 1 Cor. 12:31(compare 14:39), “covet earnestly the best gifts.”
It is not wrong for us to desire earnestly possessions, advantages, etc., belonging to another or to others if they are willing to sell them or part with them otherwise. Bad covetousness comes in when one continues to eagerly desire things to which one has no right or which another or others are not really willing to part with.
In our day covetousness is used almost without exception in the bad sense (a). Many Scriptures exhort against covetousness (Ex. 18:21; 20:17; Deut. 5:21; Psa. 10:3; 119:36; Prov. 15:27; 21:26; 28:16; Eccles. 5:10, 11; Isa. 1:23; 56:11; 57:17; Jer. 6:13; 8:10; 22:17; 51:13; Ezek. 22:12, 13; 33:31; Mic. 2:2; 3:11; 7:3; Hab. 2:5-9; Matt. 6:24; Mark 7:22; Luke 12:15-21; 16:14; John 6:26; Acts 20:33; Rom. 1:29; 7:7; 13:9; 1 Cor. 5:10, 11; 6:10; 2 Cor. 9:5; Eph. 5:3, 5; Col. 3:5; 1 Thes. 2:5; 1 Tim. 3:3; 6:9-11; 2 Tim. 3:2; Heb. 13:5; James 4:2; 2 Pet. 2:3, 14; 1 John 2:15-17; Jude 11).
Some Biblical examples of covetousness in sense (a) are Eve, in coveting the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6), Balaam, in loving the wages of unrighteousness (2 Pet. 2:15; Num. 22), Achan, in taking the Jericho treasures (Jos. 7:21), Samuel’s sons, in taking brides (1 Sam. 8:3), David taking Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:2-5), Ahab, in coveting Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21:2-16), Gehazi, in taking a gift (2 Kings 5:20-27), Judas, in betraying Jesus (Matt. 26:15, 16; Mark 14:10, 11; Luke 22:3-6), Ananias, and Sapphira, in keeping back part of the land price promised (Acts 5:1-10) and Demas, in forsaking Paul (2 Tim. 4:10).
All of God’s people should surely seek to put off ungodly jealousy, envy and evil covetousness, as works of the flesh and the devil, which, if persisted in, will keep them from attaining everlasting life in God’s Kingdom. Let us put on instead the spirit of trust and unselfish love, which will help us to gain our inheritance in God’s Kingdom. ’84-22
Jehovah—And Jesus, Two Separate Beings.
Question (1972)—Some claim that Jesus is Jehovah, that they are the same person, or being, under two different names. Is this correct according to the Scriptures?
Answer.—No. Many Scriptures teach to the contrary, and show clearly that Jehovah and Jesus are two separate and distinct persons, or beings. Note, for instance, Psa. 110:1, which clearly demonstrates that Jesus is not Jehovah: “The Lord [the Tetragrammaton (JHVH, or YHWH), used here, refers to Jehovah] said unto my [David’s] Lord [Hebrew, adon, not Jehovah, but His Son], Sit thou at my [Jehovah’s] right hand, until I [Jehovah] make thine [Jesus’] enemies thy footstool.” Here they are clearly distinguished from each other, and our Lord Jesus is shown not to be Jehovah.
Note also Isa. 6:1, 3, 5, 8, 11, 12, which verses treat of our Lord Jesus and of Jehovah as separate and distinct beings. In vs. 1, 8 and 11, our Lord Jesus is referred to by the Hebrew designation Adonai, which is indicated to English readers as such, in the KJV, the RSV, etc., by it being translated by the title “Lord” written with only the initial letter capitalized. But in vs. 3, 5, 12, JHVH, or YHWH, i.e., Jehovah, is the Hebrew word, as indicated in the KJV, the RSV, etc., by its translation Lord written entirely in capitals. Both Jehovah and Jesus are in v. 8 indicated by the word “us” in the prehuman Jesus’ question, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” The fact that these two designations Adonai and JHVH are used in Isa. 6, the former to designate Jesus and the latter to designate Jehovah, clearly proves that Jesus is not Jehovah. Jesus is here shown to be Jehovah’s Vicegerent, not Jehovah Himself.
In many other places Jesus is clearly distinguished from Jehovah, and is thus manifestly proven not to be Jehovah. For example: Jesus is the Servant of Jehovah, not Jehovah Himself (Isa. 42:1, 6, 19; 52:13; 53:11). He is Jehovah’s Arm, Agent, not Jehovah Himself (Isa. 53:1). He is Jehovah’s Son, not Jehovah Himself (Psa. 89:27; 2:7, 12, compare with Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5). He is Jehovah’s Angel, not Jehovah Himself (Gen. 22:11, 15; Ex. 3:2; Num. 22:22-27, 31, 34, 35; Psa. 34:7). He is Jehovah’s Companion, not Jehovah Himself (Zech. 13:7; Prov. 8:30).
The above Scriptures, together with many others, clearly prove that the name Jehovah belongs exclusively to the Most High God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and should never be applied to Jesus, the Son of Jehovah. ’72-94; ’94-93
Jehovah’s Witnesses—Teach That Christ Did Not Die For Father Adam.
Question (1951)—Why do the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” deny that Christ died for Adam and the wicked of his race?
Answer.—It is not because of their having any Scriptural basis for such a denial, for the Scriptures do not deny, but rather confirm Christ’s ransom price as applicable for Adam and his entire race. They deny this Bible doctrine because it is denied by their “channel,” their theological headquarters. They have become amenable to this denial as an overflow of a number of errors, e.g., that all the clergy and principals of the flock (many of whom are not new creatures), and all who die in Armageddon go into the Second Death, their “Jonadabs” generating the restitution class in the Millennium, which in their estimation makes it unnecessary for all of Adam’s non-elect descendants to return from the tomb. This “new light” is in most striking opposition to the Ransom and grossly contradicts the three fundamental doctrines of salvation: (1) God’s love and provision for everybody for salvation; (2) Jesus’ death for everybody for salvation; and (3) the Spirit’s work for everybody for salvation. Numerous Scriptures prove these three propositions. Let us briefly look at the main ones on each of these three points:
(1) God’s love and provision for everybody for salvation. Thus, God so loved the world as to give His Son to save it (John 3:16, 17). He commends His love to the race by giving Christ to die for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6-8). His love for the world makes Him determine to save all men from the Adamic sentence, and bring them to an exact knowledge of the Truth (1 Tim. 2:4). He thus from His love is the Savior of all men from that sentence (1 Tim. 4:10). His love is the grace of God that “hath appeared, bringing salvation for all men” (Tit. 2:11; the literal translation is within the quotation marks). His love for all for salvation expressed itself in giving Christ to die for mankind, as we read in Tit. 3:4: The kindness and love of God, our Savior, toward man appeared. Certainly these and numerous other passages teach that God loves all men for salvation and provides for it.
(2) Now some passages that prove that Christ died for all men for salvation: Our Lord’s death for the whole sinner race is most graphically and prophetically described in Is. 53:4-12. He is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world [Adam’s sin, participated in by the entire race] (John 1:29). Jesus said that if He were lifted up from the earth He would favorably influence all men to Himself (John 12:32, 33). As Adam’s sin and disobedience brought sin and death to all men, so Christ’s obedience and righteousness will bring cancellation of that sin and death, to enable all to gain the right to life (Rom. 5:18, 19). Jesus’ ransom was laid down for all men, which makes Him the Mediator for all humans (1 Tim. 2:5, 6). He by God’s love, grace, tasted death for every man, and for this purpose had to be made Adam’s corresponding price (Heb. 2:8, 9). He is the satisfaction to God’s justice, not only for the Church’s, but also for the world’s sins (1 John 2:2).
(3) As a result of God’s love that gave Christ to be a ransom for all men, and of Christ’s death for all men, the Spirit’s work for salvation will in the Millennium extend to all the non-elect of Adam’s race without exception. Very many, indeed, are the Scriptures teaching this thought, of which we will cite a comparatively small number: The Christ, as the Seed of Abraham, in doing the Millennial Spirit’s work, will bless for salvation purposes all the families, kindreds and nations of the earth (Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18). At Christ’s Millennial asking, God will give Him the nations and the ends of the earth [all mankind] as His inheritance and possession (Ps. 2:8). All the ends of the earth, all the kindreds of the nations and all that go down to the dust [all the Adamically dead] shall turn to, worship and bow down before the Lord (Ps. 22:27-29). God made all nations, and these will millennially worship and glorify Him (Ps. 86:9). God will reveal His plan to all; and the whole world will see it (Ps. 98:2, 3). All nations will become parts of God’s Kingdom (Is. 2:2); for the knowledge of God shall be sea-deep and worldwide; and all nations will seek Christ (Is. 11:9, 10). The Kingdom will destroy every effect of the curse and make all glad, some only for a while (Is. 25:6-9; 65:20). All the non-elect as errant from the Divine Truth will see it clearly (Is. 29:18, 24). All blind eyes and deaf ears of understanding shall see and appreciate the Truth; the morally lame shall make rapid progress up the highway of holiness and the Lord’s ransomed (He gave Himself a ransom, a corresponding price, for Adam and the race in his loins, hence for all men, 1 Tim. 2:6) will return from the tomb for the joys of the Kingdom, and the sorrows of the curse will be wiped out (Is. 35:5, 6, 10). All flesh shall see [experience] the salvation from the death sentence that God will work (Is. 40:5; Luke 3:6). So deeply impressed will all the non-elect become that according to the Oath-bound Promise for a while all will be consecrated (Is. 45:22, 23), though some will a little later fall away (Rev. 20:7-9). As a result of God’s revealing the Christ to all the world, all will clearly perceive God’s work of salvation (Is. 52:10). Yea, all, from the least to the greatest, will know the Lord (Jer. 31:34); for God has prepared salvation as a joy to all the non-elect, even raising up fallen Israel again (Luke 2:10, 31-34), since Jesus as the true Light will teach the Truth to every human that came into the world (John 1:9), in the day when the crucified Jesus will favorably influence all men toward Himself (John 12:31, 32). In Phil. 2:10, 11, in harmony with Is. 45:22, 23; Rom. 14:11, we are told that every knee, including the knees of those who were in the death state (“under the earth”), will bow to Jesus, and every tongue, including the tongues of those who were in the death state, will confess Jesus as Lord. God gives some in this life, the rest in the next life, the testimony of His love for all, Christ’s death for all and the Spirit’s work for all (1 Tim. 2:5, 6). While now the Spirit’s work extends to the Elect only (Joel 2:29), in the Millennial Age it will extend to all the non-elect (Joel 2:28; Rev. 22:17); for then Christ will become the Lord, Ruler, of the dead (Rom. 14:9), including the people of Sodom, Gomorrah, the cities of the plains and the people of the two-tribed kingdom of the South and the ten-tribed kingdom of the North (Ezek. 16:53-63). Hence these three considerations: (1) God’s love, (2) Christ’s death and (3) the Spirit’s work, completely refute the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in their denial of the ransom price as applicable for Adam and his entire race. ’51-21; ’66-38; ’86-66
Jehovah’s Witnesses—And The Promises To The Jews.
Question (1979)—The book Thy Kingdom Come, chap. 8, and other Studies in the Scriptures teach that the regathering of Fleshly Israel here in the end of the Age is fulfilling important Bible prophecies. The leaders of the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” deny this teaching, claiming that the promises to the Jews are being fulfilled in the “J.W.’s.” What would you say to this?
Answer.—The “J.W.’s.” leaders state, e.g., “The first or miniature fulfillment of Jeremiah 32:37 applied to the Jewish remnant that returned from Babylon in 537 B.C. and the second or major fulfillment applies to the 'Israel of God’ made up of those Jews inwardly, spiritual Israelites, who come out from captivity to this Babylonish world. (Galatians 6:16) From A.D. 1919 on, these have been regathered into the theocratic organization of Jehovah God as his witnesses” (Let God be True, p. 215, par. 1). But in this the “J.W.’s” are obviously in serious error, as the Scriptures show. Note these few out of many:
“I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; . . . they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God” (Amos 9:14, 15). Contrary to the “J.W.” leaders’ claims, this promise obviously was not fulfilled in any sense in the return of Fleshly Israel to their homeland in 537 B.C., after the 70 years’ desolation of the land, for later Fleshly Israel was again “pulled up out of their land,” in the destruction of their national polity in A.D. 66-73. They were scattered among all nations. Accordingly, the fulfilment of Amos 9:14, 15 was not in any sense the return of the Jews after 537 B.C. The first fulfilment evidently is the present regathering to their homeland, from which they have not been pulled up despite the avowed efforts of their enemies to root them out, and from which land they will never be pulled up again. Amos 9:14, 15 clearly applies only to Fleshly Israel, not to spiritual Israel.
Jer. 16:14-16 foretells the regathering of the nation of Fleshly Israel “from the land of the north [Russia, etc.], and from all the lands whither he had driven them”; God says: “I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.” When? V. 18 says, “First I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double.” Their period of Divine favor as a nation was 1845 years, from the beginning of the nation at the death of Jacob, 1813 B.C., until A.D. 33, when our Lord cast them off from favor (Matt. 23:37-39).
Then began Fleshly Israel’s “double” of disfavor for 1845 years, ending in 1878, when the European Concert of Nations, under the leadership of Disraeli, a Jew, then Prime Minister of England, made it a matter of International Law that the Jews be given the right of settling in the Holy Land. Since then, the “set time” (Psa. 102:13-17) to begin to “favour her,” the evidences of God’s returning favor have multiplied, especially since Israel’s statehood began in 1948, in their victories over their enemies, and otherwise. The prophecies show that they would return in unbelief and later be converted as a nation (Zech. 12:10). Their “double” is mentioned also in Isa. 40:1, 2 and Zech. 9:12, where the turning point in A.D. 33 is shown to be at the time of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (v. 9; Matt. 21:1-11; 23:37, 38; Luke 19:29-44), when they were cast off from favor as a nation.
Other Old Testament Scriptures that treat of Fleshly Israel’s regathering to their homeland are Jer. 30:4-8, 18-22; 31:4-14, 21, 23-25, 27, 28, 35-40; 32:37-44; 33:7, 10, 11; Ezek. 36:1-15, 24-38; 37:1-28; Hos. 3:4, 5. (See our Jewish Hopes and Prospects booklet—a copy free on request.)
We will now consider some pertinent New Testament texts: In Acts 15:13-18 the Apostle James describes first the Gospel-Age selective work, God’s visiting the Gentiles” to take out of them a people for his name.” God assures us that “after this [Gospel-Age selective work] I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David”—Fleshly Israel is to be restored (see Berean comments). This in return is to be followed by bringing in the restitution class, “the residue [remainder, Diaglott] of men,” that they “might seek the Lord, and [even, Diaglott] all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called.”
In Rom. 11, the Apostle Paul also shows very clearly that Fleshly Israel’s restoration follows God’s Gospel-Age selective work. After in Rom. 9:31-33 and chapter 10 he had described Fleshly Israel’s unbelief and stumbling over Christ, he shows in 11:1-12 that God had not utterly cast them away, even though the great majority were blinded, unbelieving (v. 30). He shows that a remnant of Jews (“Israelites indeed”) did accept the Messiah and obtain the Gospel-Age High Calling, and to these were to be added consecrated Gentile Christian believers, grafted into spiritual Israel and the Abrahamic promise as wild olive branches, in place of Jewish natural branches that were broken off because of unbelief in and rejection of the Messiah (vs. 13-24). But Fleshly Israel’s blinded (hardened, margin) condition was not to last forever, but only “until the fulness of the Gentiles [i.e., the full number of the Gentile elect] be come in.” Afterward, “all Israel shall be saved”—not all saved eternally, but from their “blind-ness in part” and “ungodliness” (vs. 25, 26); and then the new covenant will be made with them (v. 27; Jer. 31:31-34).
Much more Scriptural evidence could be given, but the above should suffice to show that Thy Kingdom Come is truly correct in teaching that the regathering of Fleshly Israel here in the end of the Age is fulfilling important Bible prophecies and that the leaders of the “J.W.’s.” are in serious error in teaching that the promises of the regathering of the Jews are being fulfilled in their movement. ’79-15
Jehovah’s Witnesses—Does The Large Following Denote God’s Favor.
Question (1958)—A member of the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” group has pointed me to the large attendances at some of their assemblies (such as the large attendance at their recent international assembly at New York) as a proof that God is specially favoring them and approves their doctrines. What would you say to this?
Answer.—For a long time shallow religionists have used such “proofs.” However, the fact that a religious group can stage a large mass meeting, whether it be the Mohammedans, the “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” the Catholic Holy Name Society, or any other group, does not of itself prove that God’s favor is upon them or that He approves their doctrines. As history proves in innumerable instances, a multitude can be wrong almost as readily as one person can be wrong.
The Scriptures show that in many instances in the past those approved by God have been very few comparatively, and that they usually have not had a large following. Noah is a marked example. He preached for 120 years (Gen. 6:3) without getting any following. Jeremiah is another example. Elijah is still another. There were 850 prophets of Baal and the grooves (1 Kings 18:19), while Elijah stood alone (v. 22); yet he was unmistakably the only one approved of God.
A test that will determine whether any religious group’s doctrinal interpretations are approved by God is found in our Jan. issue, p. 6, viz., “Every Bible passage or doctrine must be interpreted harmoniously: (1) with itself, (2) with all other Scriptures, (3) with all other Scriptural doctrines, (4) with God’s character, (5) with the Ransom and Sin-Offerings, (6) with the purpose of God’s Plan and (7) with facts.”
In our Nos. 216 and 217 issues (later reprinted in a 36-page booklet entitled, The Teachings of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” Examined in the Light of the Scriptures—a copy will be supplied free on requested) we have examined many of the main teachings of the “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” and have shown which of these teachings agree with the Scriptures and which of them are contrary to the Scriptures and the Ransom. ’58-71
Jesus—Was A Perfect Man.
Question (1922)—In The Herald of March 15, 1921, p. 13, Hebrews 7:27 is used to prove that the Lord Jesus was perfect as a man. Does not this Scripture refer to the Lord Jesus as our High Priest in His Divine nature now glorified in Heaven, and not to His condition of humiliation in His human nature?
Answer.—It is true that our Lord as our High Priest in glory is a Divine Being, and as such is holy, with out evil, undefiled, distinct from sinners and exalted above all other Heavenly beings, His Father alone excepted (1 Cor. 15:27-29; Phil. 2:9-11; but the connection and the tenses of the verbs of this text do not harmonize with the thought that this text describes our Lord’s present condition as a Divine Being. Rather, they suggest the thought that He is here described as having been in a condition that had ceased before the Apostle Paul wrote these words. It will be noticed that St. Paul says, “Such a High Priest became us.” i.e., it was eminently proper that there should have been for us One as our High Priest who during the time of His sacrificing Himself for us (verse 27) was holy, harmless, undefiled, [having been, so the Greek] separate [d by His immaculate conception and birth] from sinners and made [at His anointing, Matt. 3:16; Acts 10:38] higher than the heavens “[the symbolic heavens, whose bright stars at that time were the Jewish under priests and whose brightest star was the Jewish high priest himself]. The Apostle’s thought, as the connection shows, is that our Lord as a Sacrificer as well as a Sacrifice was superior to the typical high priest, (1) in His relation to consecration—“Holy”—(2) in His relation to the people—“harmless”—(3) in His relation as the Adamic sin—“undefiled”—(4) in His relation to His conception and birth—“separate from sinners”—and (5) in His relation to other priests—“made higher than the heavens.” ’22-5
Jesus—”The Root And Offspring Of David.”
Question (1965)—In Rev. 22:16 Jesus calls Himself “the root and the offspring of David.” What is meant by this expression?
Answer.—The meaning of this expression is similar to Jesus’ being David’s Lord and his son. As to the flesh, Jesus was, through His mother, the son, the branch the offshoot or offspring of David (Acts 2:30; Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8). It was by the sacrifice of His undefiled human life and His resurrection that He became the “root” of David (Rev. 5:5) as well as his Lord: but the thought suggested by the word “root” differs somewhat from that furnished in the word “Lord.” The word “root” signifies the origin, the source of life, and the source of its sustenance and development, whereas the word “Lord” conveys the thought of ruler, owner, master, and controller.
In Isa. 11:1 we read that “there shall come forth a rod [as shoot] out of the stem [stump, or stock] of Jesse, and a branch [a spout, or tender twig] shall grow out of his roots.” Centuries after the proud cedar of the Davidic monarchy had withered and fallen, in Solomon’s line (Ezek. 17:10, 12, 22-24; 19:10-14), when Zedekiah was dethroned in 607 B. C., God caused a “Branch,” a tender twig, to spring up out of the decayed stem of Jesse, as a sapling struggling out of the dry ground (Isa, 53:2). David is often called “the son of Jesse,” and Jesus is here referred to similarly, because He was to be not only the Son of David, but also David Himself (Hosea 3:5). The name David means beloved, and Jesus above all others is Jehovah’s Beloved.
Jesse lived and died in obscurity; his family was of small account (1 Sam. 18:18), and it was evidently in a way of contempt and reproach that David was sometimes called “the son of Jesse” (1 Sam. 22:7). Similarly Jesus, who is here said to come out of the stem of Jesse, was of humble birth, was raised in Nazareth, which did not have a good reputation (John 1:46), and was evidently reproached as being a carpenter and the son of a carpenter (Matt. 13:55-58; Mark 6:3). Thus both the typical David and the antitypical David had certain similar experiences.
From Isa. 11:1 we see that David was the stem (stump, or stock) of Jesse; hence Jesse was his root, or source of life, according to natural generation. And out of this root came also the Branch the antitypical David, as respects His generation in the flesh. When and how, then, does Jesus become David’s root, his father, his source of life?
We answer: Surely: it was not before He “was made flesh”; for it was when He was made flesh that, as the man Jesus, He became related to Adam’s race through His mother Mary (Heb. 2:14-18). In that relation to the human race and to David He was “branch,” not “root.” He became the “root,” the source of life, sustenance and growth (John 1:4; 6:48; 14:6) to David and all mankind, by the same means and at the same time that He became David’s Lord: the means was His death as a ransom-price, by the merit of which He buys from Divine justice the forfeited right to life and the conjoined life-rights of Adam and all his race, including David’s; and the time was when He was raised from the dead, Adam’s Redeemer, the race’s Redeemer and hence David’s Redeemer.
It was not the prehuman Logos, nor yet the man Jesus that was David’s Lord and David’s Root; it was the risen Jesus. He was raised “for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). The first Adam was the original “root” out of which the whole human family has been produced. He was “of the earth, earthly.” But the second Adam is a spirit being—”a quickening [life-giving] spirit,” “the Lord from heaven” (1 Cor. 15:45, 47). He comes, at His Second Advent, to lift up mankind by processes of restitution (Acts 3:19-23), i.e., to restore to the human race the privileges and blessings lost through the first Adam, to give eternal life to all who earnestly desire it and eventually prove worthy of it (John 3:14-17; Rev. 20:7-9; 21:6; 22:17).
Thus by paying the first Adam’s debt (“The wages of sin is death”—Gen. 2:17; Ezek 18:4, 20; Rom. 6:23), Jesus became the Second Adam, to regenerate mankind (Matt. 19:28) and as their “everlasting Father” and everlasting Ruler, sitting “upon the throne of David” (Isa. 9:6, 7), to give them “everlasting life.” We thank God that by His all-wise, all-just, all-loving and all-powerful arrangement Jesus, who through the virgin Mary, but apart from a human father, was in the flesh the “offspring” of Adam, Abraham, Jesse, David, etc., is now the Second Adam, “the Lord from heaven,” the New Root, prepared to give new life, sustenance and growth to mankind—Adam, Abraham, Jesse, David and every other branch of the sin-blighted world who will accept it and prove worthy of it on the terms of the New Covenant (Rom. 15:12). The reign of righteousness and peace of the One “whose name is The BRANCH,” who “shall be a priest upon his throne,” will indeed be prosperous and glorious in its blessings (Zech. 6:12, 13). May His name ever be praised! ’65-94
Jesus—In John 5:16, 17 He Spake To Some Jews.
Question (1980)—Jesus said to some of the Jews (John 5:16, 17): “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). Why did He say to them, Ye think ye have eternal life”?
Answer.—Jesus’ words here were really more of a reproach to the Jews than a command or invitation, as we shall see. In the context, He referred to witnessing regarding Himself as the One sent by Jehovah—in v. 31 He referred to His own testimony; in v. 32 to that of “another” a true one; in v. 33 to that of John the Baptist, His forerunner, who also testified of Him; in v. 36 to a greater testimony than that of John—that of the works that He Himself did; and in v. 37 to that of the Father Himself. Then Jesus told those Jews that of course they had never heard the Father’s voice nor seen His form, but that this would not have mattered if only they would have had His Word truly abiding in their minds and hearts (v. 38).
Accordingly, Jesus told those Jews that they should search the Scriptures (the Old Testament), for through them, that is, by keeping the Law contained in them (which they believed they were doing), they thought that they would gain eternal life—”which if a man do, he shall even live in them” (Ezek. 20:11, 13, 21). Jesus knew that if they truly searched the Scriptures with open minds and humble hearts, they would see that it was impossible for them to keep the Law perfectly, that they were in need of a Savior. Thus, instead of being self-righteous and despising others (Luke 18:9), they would have allowed the Law to be a “schoolmaster” to teach and lead them to keep the spirit of the Law, as well as the letter of it, and to believe on Him as the Messiah, the One sent of God (Gal. 3:24, 25).
There are many prophecies that testify that Jesus is the Messiah (see the March 1979 BS, p. 19). Some of the main ones are Deut. 18:15-18; Psa. 22:1-18; 31:5; 69:21; Isa. 53; Dan. 9:24-27; Zech. 9:9; 12:10.
If the Jews to whom Jesus spoke would have considered carefully, with open, unprejudiced minds and hearts, these and other pertinent Scriptures, especially after Jesus’ death and resurrection, they would have recognized that they refer to Jesus, that He is the Messiah and that He could give them eternal life, which they mistakenly thought they could gain by keeping the Law.
Those Jews, as well as all other Jews and Gentiles, could by the Scriptures learn about and obtain by faith in Jesus as Savior what keeping the Law or other good works could never give them (Eph. 2:8-10), namely, eternal life (John 3:14-17, 36; 1 John 5:11-13). But as Jesus said to those Jews, “Ye [except for some—‘Israelites indeed’—John 1:11, 12, 47] will not come to me, that ye might have life” (v. 40; note also His words in v. 41-47). ’80-23
Jesus—”Knew From The Beginning Who . . . Should Betray Him” (John 6:64).
Question (1952)—”Jesus knew from the beginning who . . . should betray Him” (John 6:64. “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70). If Jesus knew from the beginning that Judas would betray Him, why did He choose him?
Answer.—John 6:64 has been mistranslated. When it is properly translated the difficulty that arises from the rendering of the A.V. vanishes. The following is what we understand to be the proper translation of v. 64: “But there are some of you who do not believe, for Jesus knew from the beginning that there are some who did not believe, and there is someone who would betray him.” The Greek word tis may be either the interrogative pronoun “who” or the indefinite pronoun “some-one.” Of the three occurrences of the word tis in this verse, the A.V. renders it twice as the interrogative “who” and once as the indefinite “some,” but we think that in this passage in all three cases it should be the indefinite pronoun “someone,” as indicated above in our translation. According to this translation, the passage simply tells us that our Lord knew that there would be people who would be unbelievers in Him, and that He also knew that someone was going to betray Him. The statement that He knew these things from the beginning has reference to the beginning of His ministry. When He was in the wilderness during the time of temptation, He undoubtedly came to understand that His mission was one in which He would be rejected by the bulk of His people, and that even one of His disciples would betray Him. The latter thought He probably learned from Ps. 41:9, which says, “Yea, mine own familiar friend in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” We would therefore answer the question as follows: While our Lord knew that many in Israel would not believe Him to be the Messiah, and would join in His condemnation, and while He knew that someone of those whom He chose as His disciples would betray Him, the passage does not warrant us to conclude that Jesus knew from the beginning which one of the disciples it would be. It is contrary to our Lord’s character to assume that He would have chosen one whom He knew to be unworthy of Apostleship to that office; so all along our Lord knew that one of the twelve would betray Him, but how soon He found out that it was Judas we do not know. He probably construed this from various selfish things that Judas did which manifested his disloyalty of heart—a disloyalty of heart that was not his when he was first chosen as a disciple; for he, like the others of the twelve, was an Israelite indeed in whom there was no guile when he was chosen. ’52-7
Jesus—Titles Of Jesus.
Question (1967)—What are some of the names, titles or designations used in the Scriptures to refer to Jesus? Are there many that refer to Him as a shepherd?
Answer.—The Scriptures use a great number of names, titles or designations to describe Jesus, His qualities and the various ways in which He acts for God and His people. Thus He is called God’s Logos (John 1:1), the Firstborn of every creature (Col. 1:15), the Angel of Jehovah (Psa. 34:7), His Anointed (Psa. 2:2; 45:7), His Servant (Isa. 42:1; 52:13), Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6), Son of the Highest (Luke 1:32), Savior (Luke 2:11), Immanuel (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23), Lamb of God (John 1:29), the Branch (Zech. 3:8; 6:12), Alpha and Omega (Rev. 21:6; 22:13), the Amen (Rev. 3:14), the Author and Finisher of our Faith (Heb. 12:2), the Second Man, the Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45-47), that Prophet (Acts 3:22, 23), the Captain of our Salvation (Heb. 2:10), Lord of lords, King of kings (Rev. 17:14; 19:16), Bridegroom (John 3:29), Advocate (1 John 2:1), Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), Shiloh (Gen. 49:10), Apostle and High Priest (Heb. 3:1) Morning Star (Rev. 22:16), Day Star (2 Pet. 1:19), Sun of Righteousness (Mal. 4:2), Chief Corner Stone (Eph. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:6), Faithful Witness (Rev. 1:5; 3:14), the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6), the Bread of Life (John 6:35), the Light of the World (John 8:12; 9:5), Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5), Lord of All (Acts 10:36), Lord of Glory (1 Cor. 2:8), etc. etc. (For further titles and explanations see Christ—Spirit—Covenants, Chapter V, especially pp. 324-360.)
Also, as already shown, a number of Scriptures refer to Jesus as a shepherd. Our year’s motto text refers to Him as that Great Shepherd (Heb. 13:20) and the Good Shepherd (John 10:14). In Gen. 49:24 He is in prophecy called “the shepherd, the stone of Israel.” As the Arm of Jehovah, Jesus will “feed his flock like a shepherd” (Isa. 40:10, 11); and as God’s Agent, Jesus does everything that is described of the shepherd in relationship to the flock as set forth in Psa. 23. God calls Cyrus, a type of Christ, His “shepherd” and His “anointed,” and then foretells some of the things that he would do, and that Christ as His Cyrus (the word means sun, typifying the Sun of Righteousness—Mal. 4:2) will accomplish on a far grander scale (Isa. 44:28—45:6).
In 1 Pet. 2:25 Jesus is called the Shepherd and Bishop (Overseer) of souls; as antitypical David (Beloved) Jesus “shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd” (Ezek. 34:23, 24; 37:24). In 1 Pet. 5:4 He is called the Chief Shepherd—the Apostles, prophets and pastors in the Church being undershepherds. In Zech. 13:7 He is spoken of as God’s Shepherd against whom the sword would arise (which occurred at His arrest in Gethsemane) and who would be smitten for the sheep (which occurred during the last 13 hours of His life). As the Good Shepherd He gave His life for the sheep (John 10:11). ’67-7
Jesus—Seeing Him—Seeing The Father.
Question (1972)—What did Jesus mean when in John 14:9 He said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father”?
Answer.—In view of the testimony of God’s Word and in harmony with reason and facts, Jesus could not here have meant that he and His Father are one and the same person. Such a thought would have been untruthful and absurd. Rather, the thought is that the Son, the character image of the Father (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:15), was a picture of the Father, and therefore Jesus could truly say that whoever had seen Him had seen the Father—in His character likeness, but of course not in His body. God’s mind, heart and will were fully represented in His only-begotten Son to those from among mankind who carefully observed Him when He was in the flesh and dwelt among men. He was “God manifest [Greek, rendered apparent] in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16).
In seeing and knowing Jesus intimately, Philip and the other Apostles were the ones who then could know the Father in the best, closest and most absolute sense. This was evidently Jesus’ thought when he spoke these words, to disabuse Philip of the thought of Jesus’ showing to him and the other disciples God’s body, which Philip had requested Him to do (John 14:8).
Likewise, we cannot see God’s body or shape (John 5:37); but we also can see, though in a somewhat different sense than the Apostles, how He appears in character, by contemplating Jesus’ character and its manifestations as set forth in the Scriptures—what He taught, how He acted and reacted in various situations, etc. ’72-94; ’94-93
Jesus—Riding On A Donkey.
Question (1981)—Matt. 21:5 (compare Zech. 9:9) states, “Tell ye the daughters of Sion, Behold thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass [donkey], and a colt the foal of an ass.” Vs. 6, 7 state that Jesus’ disciples “brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.” Did Jesus ride on one or two donkeys in His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and if on only one, which one?
Answer.—The parallel Gospel accounts in Mark 11:2-7 and in Luke 19:30-35 mention only the colt and the account in John 12:14, 15 states that “Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written [compare Zech. 9:9], Fear not, daughter of Sion: thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.” It is evident; therefore, that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on only the donkey’s colt, or foal.
The expression translated “an ass, and a colt” in the King James Version in Matt. 21:5 (and the corresponding expression in Zech. 9:9) is properly translated “an ass, even a colt,” in other translations (compare, e.g., The Interlinear Bible, The New American Standard Bible and the Emphatic Diaglott). The Greek word kai, used in the above-quoted expression from Matt. 21:5, and the Hebrew word ve, used in the corresponding expression in Zech. 9:9, both can be properly translated even as well as and.
Accordingly, if the other translation just mentioned is used in Matt. 21:5 and Zech. 9:9, the difficulty is solved, and Matt. 21:5 is in harmony with Mark 11:2-7; Luke 19:30-35; John 12:14, 15, in showing that Jesus rode only on the colt, or foal, of the donkey. Evidently, however, the donkey went along with its colt, according to Matt. 21:2, 7, though this is not stated in the parallel accounts. ’81-23
Jesus—Why He Rode On A Donkey.
Question (1981)—In Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, why did He ride on a donkey rather than on a horse?
Answer.—Jesus’ riding on a donkey, rather than on a horse, was in exact fulfilment of Zech. 9:9. Also, He is referred to prophetically as Shiloh (the great Peacemaker sent by God), “binding his foal unto the vine, and [even] his ass’s colt unto the choice vine [the Jewish nation as the elect people of God seem to be referred to here]”.
The eastern donkey was rather large, easily capable of carrying an adult. In Judges 5:9, 10, “the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people,” are referred to as “ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment.” The white donkey was regarded as the proper animal for rulers to ride.
Jair, one of the Judges in Israel, had “thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts” (Judges 10:4). Among gifts given to King David were “the asses for the king’s household to ride on” (2 Sam. 16:2). His sons were said to ride on mules (2 Sam. 13:29; 18:9). When he was arranging for Solomon to succeed him as king, he instructed Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah to “cause Solomon to ride upon mine own mule” (1 Kings 1:32, 33, 38).
It was also for this reason eminently proper that Jesus rode on the donkey into Jerusalem when He presented Himself to the nations as King. He was of the offspring of David, the royal line, and was to sit on the throne of David (Isa. 9:7; 11:1-10; Jer. 23:5; 33:15; Luke 1:32). But the Jewish nation rejected Him and so were cast off from God’s favor (John 1:11; Matt. 23:39) until here in the end of the Age (see our Jewish Hopes and Prospects booklet—a copy free on request).
Jesus here in the end of the Age presents Himself to nominal Christendom as King, soon to begin His Millennial Mediatorial Reign and to rule forever with His Church over restored mankind on the earth (Dan. 2:35, 44; 7:13, 14, 18, 22, 27; Rev. 11:15). But, sad to say, now also the great majority rejects Him in this Kingly aspect. Blessed are those who acclaim Him as King! ’81-23
Jesus—Resurrection The First.
Question (1981)—In Matt. 27:50-53 we read concerning the time of Jesus’ death that “the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” In view of the first six above-mentioned cases and this expression, how can it be said in the Scriptures (Acts 26:23) that Jesus was the first to be resurrected from the dead?
Answer.—Thinking Christians have experienced much difficulty in trying to harmonize this seeming contradiction. Regarding Matt. 27:50-53, certainly it is strange if an earthquake at the time of Jesus’ death opened the graves, but the bodies of the saints waited several days, until after His resurrection, before they came out. Because of this and other difficulties that present themselves in connection with the portion of Matt. 27:50-53 quoted above, because (1) none of the other Gospels give any record of such events and because (2) some of the items in these verses are lacking in the Siniatic MS., one of the oldest Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, there has been much questioning as to the authenticity of these verses (see BS No. 354—a copy free on request).
But be that as it may, of one thing we may be sure: No one could have been resurrected from the dead before Jesus was resurrected. He was “the firstborn from the dead,” “the first that should rise from the dead,” “the firstfruits of them that slept” (Col. 1:18; Acts 26:23; 1 Cor. 15:20).
Individuals, such as those mentioned in the answer to the previous questions, were miraculously awakened temporarily from the sleep of death, but they were not Resurrected; they were merely reanimated, soon to die again; after being awakened they were still under the death sentence, and merely experienced a prolongation of their dying existence, and then went down into the death state again. They were not given new bodies and raised up out of death and its curse to perfection of life, into a condition in which if they remained obedient to God they would never die again (Luke 20:35, 36; John 11:25, 26). Therefore they were not resurrected.
Luke 20:35 says that “they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world [those who will be awakened from the dead in the new world, “the world to come”—Heb. 2:5], and [additionally] the Resurrection [Greek, anastasis, the re-standing up to perfection of life as Adam had it in Eden] from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: neither can [will] they die any more: for they are equal [like unto] the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.”
In 1 Cor 15:37, 38 the Apostle Paul plainly shows that the bodies that go down unto death are not the resurrection bodies. He states, “That which thou sowest [in death], thou sowest not that body that shall be . . . but God giveth it [the person, in the resurrection] a [new] body as it hath pleased him.”
The most, therefore, that could be inferred from Matt. 27:50-53 would be that the old bodies of some saints (we are not told who they were) might have been temporarily reanimated, and then later have gone back into the tomb. Note that nothing whatever is said about their Resurrection.
The time for God’s people, except Jesus, to receive their new bodies in the resurrection, was not at Jesus’ First Advent; rather, this takes place during His Second Advent, at the end of the Gospel Age. As in the case of Lazarus (John 11:23, 24), they “shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day”—the day of Jesus’ Second Advent and Kingdom, in which the Apostle Paul and the rest of the Body of Christ receive their crowns of life (John 14:3; 1 Cor. 15:51-53; 1 Thes. 4:13-17; 2 Tim. 4:8) in the First Resurrection (Rev. 20:6).
The Body members, together with Jesus, are “the firstfruits” in the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:23; v. 20 mentions Jesus as the first of these firstfruits). They receive a better reward and resurrection than the Ancient Worthies (Heb. 11:39, 40; Matt. 11:11).
The Worthies are included among those who come forth “afterward,” i.e., “they that are Christ’s at his coming [Greek, Parousia; in other words, during Christ’s Thousand-year Presence, the day that God has appointed for the judgment of the world—Acts 17:31; 2 Pet. 3:8].” In due time the world of mankind in general, the non-elect, also will hear Jesus’ call and come forth from the death state “unto the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28, 29, ASV); and those who under trial prove meek and sheeplike in disposition will in due time be given everlasting life on earth (Matt. 5:5; 25:31-34). ’81-30
Jesus—Said To Jewish Nation That The Kingdom Would Be Taken From Them.
Question (1981)—Jesus said to the Jewish leaders, who were representatives of the Jewish nation, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matt. 21:43). What nation did Jesus mean?
Answer.—Jesus had just been setting forth the parable of the wicked husbandmen, who abused their stewardship, sadly mistreated the owner’s servants and finally slew his son. Therefore Jesus said the owner would “let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons” (v. 41). The Jewish leaders “perceived that he spake of them” as the wicked husbandmen (v. 45).
The fruit of the vineyard of this parable, which the Jewish nation under its leaders should have brought forth for the vineyard owner (representing God) but did not, were the good qualities, like mercy, faith, love, etc. (Matt. 23:23). The fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23) is what is meant by the Kingdom’s fruit and the fruit of the Vine of John 15:1-9—this Vine represents Jesus.
It is obvious that by the “nation” in Matt. 21:43 Jesus did not mean (as Anglo-Israelites, such as H. W. Armstrong, claim) the British nation, nor any other nation of “this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4), nor the so called “ten lost tribes of Israel, nor a conglomerate mass of nations called the Gentile church. (Ask for a copy of our Anglo-Israelism booklet for a clear refutation of this unscriptural theory.)
The heirship to the Kingdom was taken from “the house of Israel,” the Jews” (Matt. 15:6; John 4:22), as the Apostle Paul testifies (Rom. 11:7). The Apostle Peter definitely and positively points us to Spiritual Israel as the “nation” to which the chief favors of the Kingdom were transferred, he says, “Ye [new creatures in Christ—2 Cor. 5:17)] are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9; compare Ex. 19:5, 6).
This new nation, Spiritual Israel, is made up of “Israelites indeed,” Jewish members in the Body of Christ, branches in the tame olive tree (Rom. 11) that were not broken off--the best of the Jews—and Gentile members of the Body of Christ--the best of the Gentiles—who were grafted in place of broken-off Jewish branches, being taken from “every kindred, and tongue, and people, nation” (Acts 15:14; Rev. 5:9, 10) ’81-31
Jesus—Said When Fasting “Anoint Thine Head, And Wash Thy Face.”
Question (1982)—What is the significance of Jesus’ telling us that when we fast we should anoint our heads and wash our faces (Matt. 6:17)?
Answer.—Fasting under the Jewish dispensation typifies self-denial or sacrificing under the Christian dispensation. Those Jews who desired a reputation among men for special sanctity would fast often and advertise it by disfiguring their faces, usually with ashes, that they might appear to men to be very self-denying and devout. It was not the Pharisees’s fasting twice in the week, but his boasting of it, that Jesus condemned (Luke 18:12). The hypocrite always has a difficult part to act: when he, not having godly sorrow at heart, wishes to appear as a penitent, he is obliged to counterfeit penitence in the best way he can—by a gloomy, dejected appearance.
Against such a spirit our Lord cautions us. If you would present yourself, your time, means, efforts and all your talents in self-denial in God’s service, see that you present them to God and not to men to be seen of them; “not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Eph. 6:6, 7; Col. 3:22, 23).
The anointing of the head and the washing of the face, thus removing the ashes, were forbidden in the Jewish Canon on days of fasting and humiliation; and hypocrites availed themselves of this prohibition, that they might appear to men to fast. Jesus cautioned His disciples to avoid this outward show—they were not to pose before others as being very holy. Their self-denials for God were to be rendered unto Him, and not for the purpose of attracting to themselves the attention of men. We are not to go about with a sad countenance, by word, act and attitude telling others that we are carrying a very heavy cross, that it is almost crushing us, that we cannot stand it much longer. We are not to tell them that we are starved and pinched on every side, and ground down by the heel of oppression—that the Lord’s service is a hard service and His yoke a very heavy yoke. Such a course is not presenting our devotion to the Lord, but is parading our sacrificing before men, to seek to gain their approval, to gain their sympathy and perhaps also their pity.
Such a course will bring its reward—from men. Some will say, “What a pity! You poor thing! You must be serving a hard master; you are certainly foolish for doing it. Why don’t you act sensibly, quit fasting (sacrificing) and take all the comfort and pleasure you can get out of life? We see nothing to be gained by living in such a way.” And very soon their kindly sympathy will find expression in efforts to dissuade such paraders of their devotions from the course of fasting (their self-denials and cross-bearing for the Lord) and to persuade them to follow a more pleasant course. Those who, having put their hand to the plow, look back, are not fit for the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).
How careful, then, we should be to heed the Lord’s counsel—“When thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face, that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father, which seeth in secret”! Bear the cross cheerfully, with a heavy good will (2 Cor. 9:7); rejoice in the privilege of being counted worthy to share in the blessed work of proclaiming the glorious gospel of our blessed God at any sacrifice—at the sacrifice of time and money which might be otherwise employed in selfish gratification; at the sacrifice of reputation, ease, comfort, convenience, friends, health and finally of life itself. Our Lord “poured out his soul unto death” (Isa. 53:12), and we are privileged to follow in His steps (1 Pet. 2:21; 1 John 3:16). ’69-86; ’82-14; ’89-85
Jesus—Did He Experience Changes Of Nature.
Question (1957)—Since, therefore, it is evident from the Scriptures that Jesus has experienced changes of nature, and as God’s Agent has repeatedly changed from one kind of work to another, how are we to understand Heb. 13:8?
Answer.—We understand that it means that He is still the same person, the same great being, with the same identity, with His great love, deep sympathy, for His people—the changes of nature and work He has experienced have not altered Him in any manner or degree in these respects. During the “today,” viz., the Gospel Age (Heb. 3:13, 15; Rom. 8:36; 2 Cor. 6:2). He is the same in these respects as He was in His previous existence as the Logos, during the “yesterday,” viz., the Jewish Age, which is also called a day in the Scriptures (Isa. 65:2; Rom. 10:21); and He will continue to be the same in these respects “forever”—throughout future eternity. ’57-55; ’87-47
Jesus—“King Of Kings And Lord Of Lords.”
Question (1959)—How should we understand 1 Tim. 6:14-16? Is it the Father or the Son who is referred to as “the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light, which no man can approach unto”?
Answer.—We understand that the Apostle Paul here refers to Jesus, because of the following reasons:
(1) While immortality belongs exclusively to the Divine nature, we are to remember that the Apostle Paul declares that the entire Church was called to “glory and honour and immortality” (Rom. 2:7), and that the Apostle Peter says God gave them “exceeding great and precious promises,” that by these they might become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). This implies, therefore, that the Church, the Body of Christ, in its resurrected condition would have the Divine attribute of immortality or deathlessness. But, at the time the Apostle wrote, only our Lord Jesus had yet been made partaker of this quality. The Church, His Body, was not to be thus honored and glorified until their due time, in the First Resurrection, when they would be made like Him, sharing His Divine nature, His glory, honor and immortality.
(2) Our Lord Jesus already had been raised from the dead and possessed this Divine nature, and therefore possessed immortality, at the time of the Apostle’s writing. This is fully attested by the Scriptures, which assures us that “as the Father hath life in himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in himself” (John 5:26). This describes immortality, for no other condition of life is inherent life; all other conditions are derived or imparted life. Additionally, we have the assurance that all who have part in the First Resurrection are raised incorruptible and immortal (1 Cor. 15:52, 53) and hence have inherent life; and remember that Jesus’ resurrection was the beginning of the First Resurrection, and that it could have meant no less to Him, the Head, than it would signify to the members of His Body. He was the firstfruit of them that slept (1 Cor. 15:20), “the firstborn from the dead,” “the firstborn among many brethren” (Col. 1:18; Rom. 8:29). The Apostle Paul, in harmony with the above, expressed the desire that he might have a share in “his [Jesus’] resurrection,” “the resurrection,” the first resurrection (Phil. 3:10, 11; James 1:18).
(3) If, therefore, sharing in “his resurrection” brings His faithful Body members immortality, our Lord’s own resurrection can have been to no inferior condition. Hence to apply 1 Tim. 6:14-16 to the heavenly Father would not be consistent with the testimony of the Scriptures, which show that the heavenly Son possessed immortality at the time, as did also the heavenly Father.
(4) Designating our Lord Jesus as the only Potentate and as King and Lord does not imply any disregard or disrespect of the heavenly Father and His attributes, kingship, etc., for, as St. Paul elsewhere points out, when speaking in a similar strain about Christ’s Kingdom and the subjugation of all things under Him, “it is manifest that he is expected, which did put all things under him” (1 Cor. 15:27, 28).
(5) A very similar statement of the glory of our Lord Jesus’ Kingdom given to Him by the Father is that He “is the head of all principality and power” (Col. 2:10). The answer to this is the same—the Father is excepted. The Father’s government and authority is never contrasted with that of the Son; for the latter is at one with the former and is His representative.
(6) The correctness of the above application of 1 Tim. 6:14-16 is further attested by Jesus’ own application to Himself of the same titles—“King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords” (Rev. 17:14; 19:16).
(7) The Apostle’s entire discourse in the context is along the line of showing the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus, His humility and high exaltation, and how servants and all of us should likewise be humble, lowly and faithful to the Truth as servants of God, and consequently we will in due time be exalted and manifested to the world in the Kingdom. ’59-31
Jesus—Is The Date Of His Birth Dec. 25.
Question (1961)—Is Dec. 25 the date of Jesus’ birth? Do the Scriptures indicate that we should celebrate His birthday?
Answer.—“Christmas Day,” in celebration of our dear Redeemer’s birth, has for many centuries and in many lands been observed on Dec. 25, but it is now well known that this date is incorrect, and that His birth occurred about Oct. 1 (see The Time is at Hand, pp. 54-62; also Bible Standard No. 265—a copy free on request—it gives also the exact time of His death and resurrection). The Dec. 25 date more properly corresponds with the date of the annunciation to Mary, nine months before Jesus’ birth.
The Scriptures give us no instructions whatever about celebrating Jesus’ birthday, though they do tell us to commemorate His death (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24). However, since we have no pertinent Scriptural instruction, and since it is proper to think good thoughts and do good deeds on any day, we do not understand it to be improper, in harmony with general usage, for us to remember in a special way our dear Redeemer’s birth at the Dec. 25 season, providing it is done in the proper attitude of appreciation of the Heavenly Father and His only begotten Son.
We do not see anything in the Scriptures that forbids the practice, held for centuries by Christian believers in many lands, of making Christmas Day a joyful one, by the interchange of little tokens of love in the family and among friends, and by giving to the poor, in remembrance of God’s great gift of love to all mankind, our beloved Savior Jesus (John 3:16; 2 Cor. 9:15). Through Him all of God’s gifts are promised and will be bestowed (2 Cor. 1:19, 20; Eph. 4:8). The sad part of the Christmas season is to see it so terribly and disgracefully abused and commercialized by selfish and ungodly people. Many have more or less taken Christ and His spirit of unselfish giving out of Christmas (or Christ’s festival) and have made it a season of selfish gift-trading, worldly pleasure and revelry, and even debauchery. Thus Christmas has to them lost more or less of its true and proper significance. Also, many parents by wrong instruction or lack of proper instruction have, to the detriment of their children, allowed Santa Claus more or less to take the place in their children’s minds and hearts that should be occupied only by God and Christ (see Bible Standard No. 297—a copy free on request). ’61-93; ’68-94; ’92-95
Jesus—The Time Of His Crucifixion.
Question (1970)—Mark 15:25 indicates that Jesus was crucified in the third hour; but in John 19:14 we read: “And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he [Pilate] saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!” If Jesus’ trial before Pilate was going on in the sixth hour, how could He have been crucified in the third hour?
Answer.—Obviously Jesus’ trial before Pilate had to come before His crucifixion from Mat. 27:45, 46 and Luke 23:44 also, we see that Jesus had been crucified prior to the sixth hour and that there was darkness over all the land from the sixth to the ninth hour, with Jesus’ death on the cross coming at “about the ninth hour” (corresponding to about 3 p.m. our time). Apparently Matthew, Mark and Luke followed the Jewish custom of reckoning each 24-hour day as beginning at 6 p.m. and the hours of the day part of it as beginning at sunrise, whereas John followed the practice of the province in which he resided and for which particularly he was writing, namely, the Roman custom of reckoning each 24-hour as beginning at midnight. This is corroborated by the message of Pilate’s wife urging him to have nothing to do with condemning the just man Jesus. She stated, “For I have suffered many things this day [from midnight onward] in a dream because of him” (Matt. 27:19).
Accordingly, when the Apostle John says that it was “about the sixth hour,” he was pointing, not to the hour of the crucifixion, but to the time about three hours prior to the crucifixion and nine hours prior to Jesus’ death, when He was still on trial before Pilate. John notes specially that “it was the preparation of the passover” (John 19:31; comp. Luke 23:54). The term “the preparation” in the New Testament and in contemporary language and literature was commonly applied to the sixth day of the week (corresponding to our Friday—though it was from 6 p.m. Thru to 6 p.m. Fri.), because on that day preparation was made and meals provided for the seventh day, the Sabbath or rest day (corresponding to our Saturday—though it was from 6 p.m. Fri. to 6 p.m. Sat.). Thus Jesus and His Apostles ate the Passover lamb, and Jesus instituted the Memorial of His death, on Nisan 14 (Thursday evening—”in the same night in which he was betrayed”—1 Cor. 11:23); and He, the antitypical Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7), was crucified and died later on (at the time corresponding to about 3 p.m. our time), during the day part of this same Nisan 14, namely, on what we call Friday; but, coming before the Sabbath set in at 6 p.m., it was still on the sixth day of the week—”the preparation.”
The weekly Sabbath and the Paschal Sabbath in that year both fell on the same day—“for that sabbath day was an high day” (John 19:31; see our April 1958 issue for details). The day of preparation properly preceded both; accordingly, the Jewish leaders should have been specially active in purging out of their minds and hearts the old leaven of malice and wickedness, in preparation for this “high day.” But instead they were adding great additional defilement to themselves by their course, beginning at night with the apprehension of Jesus, the unjust trial before the Sanhedrin and related events, and continuing after morning came in their persecution of Jesus even unto death, with so much malice and fury. ’70-23; ’83-22
Jesus—Potions Offered To Him While On The Cross.
Question (1970)—Matt. 27:34 states that Jesus was offered “vinegar to drink mingled with gall”; but Mark 15:23 says it was “wine mingled with myrrh.” Which is correct? And did He accept any drink while on the cross?
Answer.—In translating Matt. 27:34 the ARV, Rotherham, etc., use the oldest and best MSS, which have the word wine, not vinegar. However, it evidently was a kind of sour wine commonly called vinegar; so either translation would be acceptable. It was offered to Jesus prior to His crucifixion. Psa. 69:21 prophesied that they would offer Messiah gall (a poisonous or strongly narcotic bitter) and vinegar. It was customary to give a cup of spiced wine mingled with strongly narcotic bitters (gall, myrrh, poppy, wormwood, etc.) to those condemned to crucifixion, to make them less sensible to the severe pain. This custom was based on Prov. 31:6, 7: “Give strong drink [Heb., shekar, inebriating drink] unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts [in bitter distress, RSV]. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”
After tasting the potion (possibly mingled with both gall and myrrh, Matthew mentioning the one and Mark the other), Jesus evidently detected that it was more than simple wine or vinegar and therefore would not drink it. He did not wish to become stupefied and thus to interfere with the sufferings that His Father had arranged for Him to endure and possibly to render Himself unable to say and do what was intended for Him to say and do on the cross.
The above explanation presupposes that Matt. 27:34 and Mark 15:23 refer to the same incident. However, this may not have been the case. There may have been altogether five occasions on which Jesus in connection with His crucifixion was offered something to drink:
(1) Mark 15:22, 23—As they “bring” (historic present tense, referring to past time) Him to Golgotha, they “were offering” (imperfect tense, i.e., action going on in past time) Him wine (Greek, oinos) mingled with myrrh; but He did not receive it.
(2) Matt. 27:33, 34—Having arrived at Golgotha, they gave Him vinegar, sour wine (Greek, oxos), to drink, mixed with gall (Greek, chole) which, after tasting, He would not drink.
(3) Luke 23:36—after He was crucified, the soldiers joined others in mocking Him. They echoed the words of the rulers (v. 35), but instead of saying “Christ,” they said “the king of the Jews” (v. 37). It was probably as they were engaged in their mid-day meal at the foot of the cross that they offered Jesus some of the vinegar, sour wine (Greek, oxos), served to them with their rations.
(4) Matt. 27:46-49; Mark 15:34-36—“About the ninth hour,” or more specifically, “at the ninth hour,” Jesus cried out with a loud voice, in the words of Psa. 22:1, which St. Matthew apparently translated directly from the original Hebrew, thus rendering it “Eli, Eli,” etc. But St. Mark, probably learning from the Apostle Peter the exact form of words used by Jesus, renders it “Eloi, Eloi,” etc. Some said He was calling for Elias. One of the soldiers (who had access to the vessel in which the acid wine used by them was kept) filled a sponge with this vinegar, sour wine (Greek, oxos), and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink.
(5) John 19:28-30—Finally, “Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled saith, I thirst.” While previously He had twice refused the stupefying potion (Matt. 27:34; Mark 15:23), He obviously did not now object to the simple vinegar, sour wine (Greek, oxos), for when it was offered to Him (probably by a javelin or reed) on a sponge bound fast (literally, placed about) by hyssop, He received it. He then said, “It is finished”; and bowing His head, He gave up the spirit, i.e., He breathed out His last breath, He let go his hold on life—He expired.
Thus it seems that there may have been five occasions on which Jesus in connection with His crucifixion was offered something to drink, and that these drinks were of three different kinds. ’70-23; ’83-23
Jesus—Preached To “The Spirits In Prison.”
Question (1975)—In 2 Pet. 3:19 we read that Jesus “went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” How and when did He do this?
Answer.—The “spirits” of this verse are those angels, spirit creatures, who became disobedient “in the days of Noah,” by materializing in human form and taking wives as they chose, and thereby producing giant hybrid offspring, the Nephilim (1 Pet. 3:20; Gen. 6:2-5). As a result of their disobedience, God imprisoned or restrained them from some of their former liberties and privileges. Jude 6 (see Diaglott) declares that “those angels who kept not their own principality, but left their own habitation [or normal condition], he has kept in perpetual chains [restraints], under thick darkness, for the judgment of the great day.”
In 1 Pet. 3:18 we read, “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened [made alive] by [in] the Spirit.” Then v. 19 states that it was by this, that is, by Jesus’ experiences in suffering, death and resurrection that “he went and preached to the spirits in prison.”
How could our Lord actively preach to those imprisoned spirits during the time He was dead, in the unconscious condition, in oblivion? It is not so stated. Rather, it was by His course of conduct that He preached; as we sometimes say, “Actions speak louder than words.” It was by Jesus’ ministry, death and resurrection that the preaching was done. As He went from step to step in His work, His course was preaching a good sermon to the fallen angels. (Preaching without words is done also, for instance, by the heavens and by Abel’s example—Psa. 19:1-4; Heb. 11:4.)
In Jesus these angels saw exemplified a very willing and loyal obedience to God, even unto death, and its glorious reward—resurrection to the Divine nature. The lesson from Jesus’ great test, as stated by the Apostles (Phil 2:9; 1 Pet. 3:22), is that Jesus is now highly exalted and has been given a name (title) above every name, that He has “gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God [the position of highest favor and authority], angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. “The angels knew Jesus before He left the glory of the heavenly condition and became a man. They saw Him obedient even unto death, and that His exhalation came as a reward for that obedience.
According to Liddell and Scott’s Greek Lexicon (compare Strong’s Concordance Greek Dictionary, No. 4198, and other authorities), the Greek word poreuomai—translated “went” in 1 Pet. 3:19—means literally, “to go,” hence figuratively, as respects conduct, “to walk, i.e., live”—in other words, a figurative going, or pursuing of a course in life. This same Greek word is used in this figurative sense in Luke 1:6; Acts 9:31; 14:16; 1 Pet. 4:3; 2 Pet. 2:10; 3:3; Jude 11, 16, 18.
Thus after stating in 1 Pet. 3:18 Jesus’ righteous course of obedience even unto death in doing God’s will, and its glorious reward, the Apostle specifies: “by which [in or by this example of suffering, death and resurrection] also to those spirits in prison, having gone, he preached” (see Greek-English text in Diaglott). Obviously it was Jesus’ noble example “by which” the preaching was done.
A footnote in the Diaglott states that “having gone and preached” is used pleonasitcally for “he preach-ed.” Pleonastic words are redundant, superfluous, more-than-necessary words, but they were often used as a mode of expression in the Greek language. And we so use them today. For instance, we may say, “Go ahead and tell me all about it,” or, “He went on and told his story.” The words “go ahead” and “went on” are obviously redundant, not necessary to the sense, but may be used, perhaps for emphasis.
Surely we are not to understand 1 Pet. 3:19 as contradicting the general testimony of the Scriptures, that “the dead know not any thing” (Eccles. 9:5, 10). We may be sure that Jesus gave no oral address while He was dead. But what a wonderful sermon His example preached to: the spirits in prison”] The lesson is one for all. God’s power is infinite, so is His love, His mercy, His goodness. Nevertheless, every wilful sin will have its punishment, a just recompense of reward, and only the willing and obedient will have the Divine favor and everlasting life. Let each apply the lesson to himself. (For more on this subject, please see BS No. 403—a copy free on request.) ’75-22
Jesus—Soul Not Left In Hell.
Question (1975)—Did Jesus go to hell when He died?
Answer.—When Jesus “poured out his soul [His life, His being—Gen. 2:7; ‘himself’—1 Tim. 2:6] unto death” (Isa. 53:12, 10), He did not merely appear to die, but He really died. He was in the unconscious condition of death—oblivion—until on the third day, when God raised Him up “from the dead” (Acts 10:40; Rom. 8:11).
The “hell” in which Jesus was during those three days was not gehenna, which symbolizes absolute and everlasting destruction—utter, complete and eternal annihilation; nor was it a place of eternal torment, such as the one invented by the heathen and made more hideous and God-dishonoring by the errors of the Dark Ages and their proponents. The “hell” in which Jesus was during parts of those three days while He was dead was hades, or sheol. Accordingly, we read of Him in Acts 2:27, 31 (compare Psa. 16:10): “Thou [Jehovah] wilt not leave my soul in hell [Greek, hades]”; so “His soul was not left in hell [hades].”
It would have been improper for the Apostle Peter (Acts 2:27, 31) to have used the word gehenna here, for gehenna, the valley of Hinnom, like “the lake of fire,” symbolizes “the second death”—eternal annihilation, which will be the final condition of “death and hell [hades]” when all the dead that are in them come back in the resurrection, for then death (1 Cor. 15:26; the Adamic dying process) and hell (hades, the Adamic death condition in the tomb) will have been completely destroyed forever—”cast into the lake of fire”—“the second death” (Rev. 20:13-15).
Also, all the wicked (Jesus, of course, was not such) “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8); for “all the wicked will God destroy” (Psa. 145:20; Isa. 1:28; 2 Thes. 1:9). There will never be a resurrection from Gehenna, the Valley of Hinnom, the Lake of Fire, the Second Death. The only hell from which the dead will be raised is hades (or sheol), the temporary death state of unconscious “sleep” (Dan. 12:2; 1 Cor. 15:22; 1 Thes. 4:14, 15). It was, therefore, as the Scriptures testify, hades, or sheol, in which Jesus’ unconscious soul rested in death until the third day, when He was raised “from the dead” (Rom. 8:11).
Those who teach that the wages of sin is not “death” but eternal life in torment unwittingly consign themselves to eternal torment (which in their ignorance they call “hell”), for Jesus never paid such a price for their salvation; hence according to their theory of eternal torment as the wages of sin they are hopelessly lost, without any Savior who ever paid that debt for their redemption, their deliverance from such a penalty for sin! Let us anoint our eyes of faith with the eyesalve of full consecration and submission of God’s will that we may see and in meekness accept the teachings of His Word on this and other subjects.
We thank God for the increasing light on the subject of “hell” as well as on other important subjects (Prov. 4:18; Dan. 12:4). For an examination of every Scripture in which the word “hell” occurs, see our 60-page booklet “The Hell of the Bible” (price, 25 cents); and for the explanation of the parable of “The Rich Man in Hell” see BS 371 (copy free on request). ’75-94
Jesus—Descent Into Hell.
Question (1963)—“The Apostles’ Creed” states that Jesus “was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose from the dead.” Do the Scriptures teach that Jesus went to hell?
Answer.—The prophecy in Psa. 16:10 stated, “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [sheol]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” On the day of Pentecost the Apostle Peter called attention to how this prophecy had been fulfilled; he stated that David “seeing this before spake [prophetically, in Psa. 16:10] of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell [hades; thus the Hebrew word sheol in Psa. 16:10, and the Greek word hades, used here, are shown to be equivalent terms], neither his flesh did see corruption” (Acts 2:31). Hence the Scriptures do teach that Jesus went to, or descended into, hell (sheol, or hades), as is taught also in “the Apostles’ Creed” (though there is no record of Apostles ever having written or authorized it). ’63-6; ’95-14
Jesus—His Soul Not Left In Hell (Hades).
Question (1975)—Since the Scriptures teach that the Hebrew word sheol and the Greek word hades, both often translated “hell,” mean the unconscious condition of the death state, oblivion, and since they teach also that Jesus went to sheol, or hades, would it be proper to say that Jesus’ soul at death went into unconsciousness, oblivion, until He was raised from the dead?
Answer.—We read in 1 Cor. 15:3, 4 that “Christ died for our sins,” that “he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” His soul (Himself—“made flesh”—Gen. 2:7; John 1:14; 6:51; 10:17, 18; Phil. 2:7-11; 1 Pet. 3:18) was made “an offering for sin,” and for 3 1/2 years, from Jordan (when He was begotten of the holy Spirit—Matt. 3:16) to Calvary, He “poured out his soul [his life] unto death” (Isa. 53:9-12; Matt. 26:38).
It was not until Jesus was dying on the cross that He said, “It is [Greek, has been] finished.” It was then that He “bowed his head, and gave up his spirit [Greek, pneuma, i.e., He expired—see ASV, Diaglott]” (John 19:30). In Matt. 27:50 the Greek text says that He yielded the breath, and in Luke 23:46, that He breathed out. Thus we have here three different ways of saying the same thing—that He expired, or died. His soul, His being, was then in the sleep of death, in sheol (Psa. 16:10), or hades (Acts 2:31), the unconscious condition of the death state, oblivion.
The penalty upon Adam and his race for his disobedience was not life in eternal torment or otherwise, but death, cessation of life (Gen. 2:17; Ezek. 18:4, 20; Rom. 5:12-19; 6:21, 23). To redeem the perfect man Adam (with the race in his loins) required the death of a perfect man an an equivalent, a ransom-price, and it was the perfect “man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom [Greek, anti-lutron, a corresponding price] for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:5, 6).
Jesus had to go, not into life in eternal torment or otherwise, but into death, cessation of life, into sheol, or hades, the unconscious condition of the death state, in order to redeem Adam and his race. If He had not done so, and if He had not been raised from the dead, we would still be under the condemnation of sin, without a ransom-price, without redemption, without any hope or possibly of a future life in a resurrection from the dead—no hope beyond the grave.
Thanks be to God, that in His great love He gave His only begotten Son to be our ransom-price and that Jesus willingly became our Ransomer!
Thanks be to God, that Jesus’ soul “was not left in hell [sheol, or hades],” the unconscious condition of the death state, but that He “was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father” (Rom. 6:4), in the glorious Divine nature, in “the brightness of his [the Father’s] glory, and the express image of his person”(Heb. 1:3, 4)!
Thanks be to God, that as a consequence of Jesus’ appearing in the presence of God for us (Heb. 9:24), we who were sinners of Adam’s race but now justified in God’s sight by faith, can obtain everlasting life as a gift-reward from Him through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 4:25; 6:23)! ’75-22
Jesus—Not In A Hell Of Torment.
Question (1963)—Is the hell that Jesus went to a place of eternal torment?
Answer.—If the penalty upon Adam and his race, “the wages of sin, is not “death,“ but eternal life in torture, as some have not yet been delivered from the blasphemous eternal-torment doctrine of the Dark Ages still teach, and if hell is a place or condition of eternal torment, as they also falsely teach, then the inevitable and only logical conclusion is either (1) that Jesus in paying the debt of Adam and his race and suffering for our sins, “the just for the unjust” (1 Pet. 3:18), is still suffering and will eternally suffer eternal torture in a burning hell, or (2) that the debt of eternal life in such a hell of eternal torment remains unpaid, that Jesus, accordingly, has not become our Savior from sin’s penalty, that we are all eternally lost and that we must all go into eternal torture.
Thank God that the Bible hell is not a place of eternal torment! “The soul that sinneth, it shall Die”; “the wages of sin is DEATH”; therefore “Christ DIED for our sins according to the scriptures”; “he poured out his soul unto DEATH”; He was “put to DEATH in the flesh, but quickened [made alive] in the spirit” (Ezek 18:4, 20; Rom. 6:23; 1 Cor. 15:3; Isa. 53:10, 12; 1 Pet. 3:18). The hell into which Jesus went was the Bible hell (sheol, hades), into which both good and bad go at death (Gen. 37:35; Job 14:13; 1 Kg. 2:6, 9). The Revised Version leaves the words sheol and hades untranslated; but the King James Version translates sheol and hades by the words hell or the grave, often showing them as equivalents in meaning (see e.g., the margin to Psa. 49:15; 55:15; 86:13 Isa. 14:9; Jonah 2:2; 1 Cor. 15:55; Rev. 20:13). The hell into which Jesus’ soul (Acts 2:34; Isa. 53:10, 12) went, and from which He was raised on the third day, was the condition of “sleep” (1 Cor. 15:20), oblivion, into which His followers who have died have gone also (John 11:11-14, 39-44; Acts 7:60; 1 Cor. 15:18; 1 Thes. 4:14). For further details, see our booklets, Where are the Dead? and Life and Immortality (copies free on request). ’63-7; ’95-15
Jesus—Is He Invisible.
Question (1961)—Is Jesus in His glorious resurrection body invisible to the natural sight of man, just as God is?
Answer.—Yes. Raised to the Divine nature, and given “a name which is above every name” (Phil 2:9), Jesus is like the Father, “being an effulgence of His glory, and an exact impress of His substance” (Heb. 1:3—Diaglott), hence invisible to all fleshly beings. But some may object, on the ground that He appeared to Saul of Tarsus on the way to Damascus, and that Saul, after his conversion, as the Apostle Paul, said that Christ was seen of him (1 Cor. 15:8). We should note, however, that Saul did not see our Lord’s glorified body, but merely a representation of it, the light that shone out of that body (Acts 9:3; 22:6, 9, 11; 26:13, 19) representing it to him. Later Saul as the Apostle Paul wrote of Jesus, and referred to Him as “dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see” and as being “the image of the invisible God” (1 Tim. 6:16; 1:17; Col. 1:15; Heb. 11:27). He could not truthfully have made these statements, if he had previously actually seen our Lord’s spirit body. What he actually saw on the way to Damascus was the glory-light that shines out of our Lord’s spirit body as one of its inseparable qualities, and it was so bright that it blinded his eyes before they could penetrate through it and see the body out of which it shone forth. Also, Jesus testified of His invisibility as a spirit being to human eyes in John 14:19: “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye [my Church, my heavenly Bride] shall see me” (Comp. 1 John 3:2). For a further discussion of Jesus’ invisibility as a spirit being to human eyes, and His appearance to Saul of Tarsus, please see Bible Standard Nos. 233 and 261. ’61-54; ’68-62
Jesus—James, “The Lord’s Brother,” An Apostle.
Question (1963)—Was James, “the Lord’s brother” (Gal. 1:19), one of the twelve Apostles?
Answer—Yes. This is manifest, not only (1) from the Apostle Paul’s direct statement in Gal. 1:17-19, but also (2) from this James’ relation to the Apostles Peter and John (Gal. 2:9), as with them constituting three of the pillars, (3) from his great influence and authority among the Apostles and other brethren (Acts 12:17; 15:13-22; 21:18-25; Gal. 2:9, 12—none of these Scriptures refers to the Apostle James, the brother of the Apostle John, both of whom were sons of Zebedee—Matt. 4:21—as that James had been put to death previously—Acts 12:2), and (4) from the identity of James and Cleophas, on the one hand, and the identity of this James, “the Lord’s brother” (first cousins are sometimes called brethren in Oriental countries even yet, as well as in the Bible), and James the Less (or Little), the son of Alphaeus, one of The Twelve, on the other hand.
According to John 19:25, Jesus’ mother had a sister, also called Mary (an Oriental happening that is not unheard of), who was the mother of Cleophas, i.e., James. A footnote to this verse in Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott (which we can supply at $2.00) explains that the Greek text does not state the relationship between Mary and Cleophas (Greek, Clopas, or Cleopas). (The King James Version inserts the word “wife” in italics, thus indicating that there is no corresponding word in the Greek text, which leaves the relationship undefined.) Cleophas was probably another name for this Apostle James, for in the other gospels this Mary is called the mother of James; and St. Paul tells us that Jesus after His resurrection was seen by James (1 Cor. 15:7)—this is not mentioned in the gospels or Acts, unless we suppose that the Cleophas who was one of the two who walked with Jesus to Emmaus was this Apostle James (Luke 24:18). This Mary, the mother of Cleophas, is also called “Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses” (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40: Luke 24:10).
The foregoing facts prove that this Apostle James was Jesus’ cousin, for which reason he is called “the Lord’s brother,” in harmony with Bible usage. Jude, the writer of the Epistle, calls himself James’ brother (Jude 1). But the other James, the Apostle John‘s brother, the son of Zebedee, was the only Apostle James other than James, the son of Alphaeus, whose brother was the Apostle Jude (Luke 6:15, 16; comp. Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Acts 1:13). Alphaeus, accordingly, was the husband of Mary the sister of Jesus’ mother. These facts prove that “James the Lord’s brother” was the Apostle James whose father was Alphaeus, and whose brother was Jude, sometimes written Judas (not Iscariot). Hence James, “the Lord’s brother” (i.e., cousin), the writer of the Epistle of James, and his brother Jude, the writer of the Epistle of Jude, were two of the twelve Apostles. ’63-31
Jesus—Second Coming A Personal One.
Question (1970)—Does Jesus come really and personally to the earth in His Second Advent, or does He remain in heaven and merely carry on a work here for the salvation of mankind?
Answer.—The Bible shows clearly that Jesus really comes to this earth in person at the time of His Second Advent. From many Scriptures to this effect we note the following:
(1) In John 14:2, 3 the contrast of His going away and coming again proves His Second Advent to be a real and personal one.
(2) In Acts 1:11 His coming again in like manner as He went proves the same thought.
(3) Acts 3:19-21 shows that He would be kept in heaven until the times of restitution of all things, thus implying that He leaves heaven for earth at that time.
(4) His descending from heaven (1 Thes. 4:16) proves His coming personally.
(5) 1 Thes. 4:17 testifies that the living saints meet Him in the air, which proves His personal return to the earth’s atmosphere.
(6) The parable of the nobleman (Luke 19:12-27), by its contrasting his going to a far country to receive a kingdom and his returning thereafter, demonstrates that our Lord’s return is as personal and real as was His leaving the earth for heaven.
(7) Phil. 3:20, 21 shows that it is from heaven (“from whence”) that the saints in harmony with the Scriptural teachings looked for Jesus to come for their deliverance; if He comes from heaven, His coming would obviously be personally.
The clear-cut contrasts of these seven passages, to which others might be added, show plainly that our Lord’s return in his Second Advent is real and personal. ’70-29
Jesus—Invisible To Men’s Physical Eyes.
Question (1970)—Is Jesus’ Second Coming visible to the physical eyes of men?
Answer.—According to the views of various creeds, our Lord is to return visibly to the physical eyes of men, riding upon a literal cloud, clothed in flaming fire, shining with literal light brighter than the sun, and blowing a literal trumpet loud enough to be heard all around the earth! Usually this view of the manner of His return is presented to frighten people into repentance. It is most absurd and is out of harmony with the Scriptures, reason and facts. It violates the proper principles of Bible interpretation; for it is drawn from a literal interpretation of figurative passages, such as parables, symbols and dark sayings, which according to Bible usage and the rules of language must, of course, be interpreted figuratively. Not only does it rest upon a false method of interpretation, but also upon logical analysis its absurdity becomes apparent.
For example, in view of the roundness of the earth, how could the people at the antipodes of the place of His arrival see Him coming? Even if, as has been suggested, He should after His coming remain stationary at a certain place in the sky during 24 hours for the rotation of the earth on its axis to make Him visible around the earth eastward and westward, the rotundity of the earth would nevertheless make Him invisible beyond a few hundred miles northward and southward. Clouds forming within the earth’s atmosphere, the rotundity of the earth, as well as its size would make Him invisible at no great distance. A literal trumpet, blowing loud enough to be heard all over the earth, would burst the eardrums of all within at least 12,000 miles of it. If the light from the glorified body of Jesus would appear to the physical eyes of men, they would be instantly blinded, as was Saul on the way to Damascus; but if they would see that body itself, they would instantly drop dead, as nobody can see Him and live (Ex. 33:20; Heb. 1:3; 1 Tim. 6:16). And if the literal universe were meant in the passages that speak of the heavens and earth passing from His face (Rev. 20:11, etc.), it would have passed away long ago, yes, the instant of its creation, for He faces all things. Thus proper methods of interpreting the Bible, as well as reason and facts, contradict the idea that our Lord Jesus in His Return appears to the physical sight of mankind in a visible manner.
A candid, reverent and careful study of the Scriptures reveals the fact that our Lord’s Return is to be invisible to men’s physical sight, but visible to their mental sight, their eyes of understanding.
The Bible directly teaches that Jesus will no more be seen by the physical eyes of human beings. “Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more” (John 14:19). This statement of our Lord is clearly to the point. While the connection and 1 John 3:2 show that the Lord’s Church will see Him when changed with Him, John 14:19 clearly teaches that no others of mankind will see Him. Of course Jesus here referred to Himself as being forever invisible to mankind in His glorified resurrection body. This is clearly shown to be the case by the language of St. Paul with reference to Him since He came to dwell with God in glory: “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom [in His glorified condition] no man hath seen, nor can see” (1 Tim. 6:16). Very clearly do these passages show that our Lord since His glorification has been and forever will be invisible to men’s physical sight. Hence at His return, He is invisible to men’s physical eyes. ’70-30
Jesus—What Kind Of Eyes Will See Him.
Question (1970)—How are we to understand Rev. 1:7, which says that every eye shall see Him?
Answer.—Rev. 1:7 reads: “Behold, he cometh with clouds [of trouble in the Great Tribulation] and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him.” If we would interpret the “clouds” of this passage literally we would make the passage teach nonsense, as we showed above; and if we would interpret the expression “every eye” in this passage as applying to physical eyes we would make it contradict 1 Tim. 6:16 and John 14:19. It goes without saying that reverence for God’s Word should withhold us from interpreting Scriptures contradictorily of one another.
How may we interpret this and similar passages and preserve the harmony of the Bible? We answer, evidently 1 Tim. 6:16 and John 14:19 are literal and refer to the literal sight; hence the eyes of Rev. 1:7 must be figurative and refer to our mental sight—our eyes of understanding. Evidently this verse, therefore, means that our Lord’s Second Presence is accompanied with clouds of trouble and that the eyes of understanding in all people, including even the Jews, will be opened to a proper knowledge of Him. In this sense of seeing, St. Paul says, “We [now] see Jesus” (Heb. 2:9). Certainly he does not mean that we see Him with our natural eyes, but rather with our eyes of understanding, our mental eyes.
Not only the reasonableness of such an interpretation, and the Scriptural usage in other passages, but also the figurative character of the book of Revelation warrants it. Our Lord gave it to John in signs or symbols. Therefore it would be proper to interpret the clouds, eye and seeing of Rev. 1:7 symbolically. The reference made in this passage to the Jews, who pierced Him, as seeing Him, clinches the matter; for Jesus told them on the Wednesday before His crucifixion, hence two days before the Jews last saw Him with their physical eyes, that they would no more see Him at His Second Advent they would hail Him with the acclamation, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matt. 23:39). This passage proves that the physical sight is not meant here, because they saw Him with their physical eyes two days after He uttered these words. Hence mental sight is here meant, and this shows those who pierced Him would see Him during His Second Advent, i.e., not with their physical, but with their mental eyes.
We further know this because Jesus two days before, i.e., on the day of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem four days before His death, had pronounced mental blindness upon them for their sins (Luke 19:42, 44); and St. Paul assures us that such blindness must continue with them until the full number of the Gentile Elect is won (Rom. 11:7-10, 25-33). Then, at the Second Advent, it is gradually removed and they come to see (under-stand) Jesus as their Divine Messiah and Deliverer. A passage very similar in sense and method of interpretation to Rev. 1:7 is Matt. 26:64. These passages from the standpoint above presented, harmonize with the clear statements of 1 Tim. 6:16 and John 14:19, and so viewed, prove that our Lord’s Return is invisible to men’s physical eyes, though discernible by their mental eyes. ’70-30
Jesus—Comes “In Like Manner” (Acts 1:11).
Question (1970)—What is meant by the statement in Acts 1:11: “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven”?
Answer.—This passage is usually explained as though it read, “as ye have seen him go into heaven, so shall ye see him come again.” Those who so interpret the passage explain it as though the point of comparison emphasized in the passage were His being seen going and His being seen coming again, whereas the passage says nothing whatever about His being seen coming again. Hence His being seen coming again cannot be a part of the point of comparison in this passage.
Clearly the point of comparison in this passage is between the manner of His going and the manner of His coming again, and not between His being seen going and His being seen coming again: “This same Jesus . . . shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven,” Hence this passage treats of the manner of our Lord’s Return. And from the manner in which He went we can learn certain things respecting the manner of His Return:
(1) He went secretly so far as the world was concerned, none but His disciples knowing of it at the time; so He comes again secretly (“as a thief in the night”) so far as the world is concerned, none but His faithful followers knowing of it in its first stages.
(2) He went away quietly and unostentatiously, without startling the world with a literal trumpet, riding on a literal cloud, shining with a natural dazzling light and blasting the universe into atoms; hence He returns quietly and unostentatiously, without startling the world with a literal trumpet, riding on a literal cloud, shining with a natural dazzling light and blasting the universe into atoms.
(3) He went away blessing those whom He left; hence He returns, blessing first His waiting Church and later the world of mankind.
(4) As respects His Divine body He was invisible to the physical eyes of human beings in His going away, though manifest to His disciples as going by suitable accompanying works; hence on returning His is invisible to the physical eyes of mankind, though He is manifested as present by suitable accompanying works—His works of gathering His elect in the Gospel-Age Harvest, gradually overthrowing Satan’s empire in the great Time of Trouble, returning favor to natural Israel, etc. ’70-31
Jesus--Comes “As A Thief.”
Question (1970)—What is meant by our Lord coming “as a thief”?
Answer.—It means that His return is to be thief-like in its manner (1 Thes. 5:1-3; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 16:15). When a thief comes to break into a house, he does not carry a bright light and blow a trumpet, shouting to the people, “Hello, you people! Wake up! I am coming to rob your houses!” Surely not! Neither, therefore, does our Lord do so at His return as a thief in the night. The thief in the night comes silently, stealthily, hiding in the dark, walking noiselessly with padded shoes or in stocking feet, picking locks and opening doors or windows with quiet deftness, thus concealing his presence from his unsuspecting victims. Our Lord comes in similar manner, unknown to the world. But as a thief’s presence in the house that is being robbed may by certain signs be made known to his accomplices who may be awaiting him in that particular house, so the Lord promised to make known, after His return, to His faithful watching saints, the fact of His return by certain signs and proofs (Matt. 24:3, 30-33). Please notice how in 1 Thes. 5:1-6 the Apostle tells us that the world would not be aware of the Lord’s return, because of its thief-like manner, but that His waking and watchful people would be aware of it. Of course, if the world would see His return with their physical eyes, they would be aware of it. Hence their not being aware of it proves that they will not see Him in His Second Advent, which therefore must be invisible to the physical sight.
For further information on the general subject of the Manner of our Lord’s Return and Appearing, please see The Time is at Hand, pages 103-172.—Price only $1.00. We will lend this book to those unable to pay for it. ’70-31
Jesus—“The Brethren Of The Lord.”
Question (1963)—Who are “the brethren of the Lord” referred to in 1 Cor. 9:5?
Answer.—They are the Apostles James and Jude, the writers of the Epistles of James and Jude. That “the brethren of the Lord” referred to in this verse are Apostles is evident from the fact that the “other apostles,” the other eleven Apostles as a whole, are first mentioned as having the power (Greek, exousia, authority) to be married, and then special ones of these eleven Apostles are singled out for special emphasis as among the most important of them, in proof of the point at issue—namely, that the Apostle Paul had the right to marry, as is manifest from the fact that one of the “other apostles,” Peter, under the name of Cephas, is expressly mentioned as one of these special ones.
Thus in this text St. Paul shows that he had the right to marry, just as the other eleven Apostles had. Then he particularizes, showing that the most influential ones among them, “the brethren of the Lord”—James and Jude—and Peter, all had this privilege. (In fact, we know that Peter was married—Matt. 8:14; Mark 1:30; Luke 4:38—in this he was very unlike the popes, who claim to be his successors, who claim it is wrong for them to marry, and who, contrary to the Apostolic teaching in the Scriptures—1 Tim. 4:3—even forbid their clergy to marry!)
This view of the matter would be clearer as being the Apostle’s thought in this connection, if the Greek word kai—having as it does the three meanings, “also,” “even” and “and”—were rendered by these three words in the order given, for the three occurrences of the word kai in this verse, thus: “Have we not a right to lead about a sister [a believer]—a wife [thus as one of God’s consecrated children marrying ‘only in the Lord’’—1 Cor. 7:39], as also the other Apostles [have], even the brothers of the Lord James and Jude], and Cephas [Peter]?” We have italicized the three renderings of the word kai. (See Also the Diaglott.)
The fact that St. Peter, one of the twelve, is here mentioned after all of the Apostles as a whole (except St. Paul) are spoken of as such, proves that the brethren of the Lord—James and Jude—were also Apostles, and also proves that St. Paul singles them and St. Peter out as the most prominent examples of the Apostles to be cited in proof of his proposition that he, an Apostle, had an equal right with the rest of the Apostles to marry, should he choose to do so, but which he evidently chose not to do (1 Cor. 7:7). Since Cephas is specified as one of the “other Apostles,” logically “the brethren of the Lord,” similarly used, as specifications in this same connection, would also be Apostles. ’63-31
Jesus—“Jesus Wept” (John 11:35) Shortest Verse.
Question (1965)—Does Biblical Numerics prove the genuineness of every sentence in the Bible? For instance, as a test case, how about “Jesus Wept” (John 11:35), the shortest verse in the Bible?
Answer.—Of course, we have not tested every verse in the Bible, nor do we have time to do so; Biblical Numerics is especially valuable when it comes to testing all of or part of any passage of Scripture which may reasonably be questioned as to its authenticity. Many Bible scholars have applied Biblical Numerics to various passages of Scripture and have done much toward the establishing and verification of the pure Bible texts. A prominent one among these scholars was the late Ivan Panin, who as a pioneer examined the Bible as a whole and in many of its parts, and whose work was extensive and very valuable. He made marvelous discoveries in this scientific field. The Greek text of John 11:35 contains three words. “Edakrusen ho Iesous,” which according to the Greek order is literally translated: “Wept the Jesus.” The numeric values of these words are respectively 785, 70 and 888, the sum of which is 1,743, which is evenly divisible by 7, for 1,743 divided by 7=249. Therefore, this sentence is genuine as it stands.
Also, in this text, as is often the case with other genuine texts, many additional evidences can readily be found. Thus, by factoring, we have 1,743=7 X 3 X 83; and 7 + 3 + 8 + 3 = 21, or 3 sevens. Also, by multiplying the figures in 1,743 we have 1 X 7 X 4 X 3 = 84, or 12 sevens; and 84 = 7 X 2 X 2 X 3, the sum of these factors being 14, or 2 sevens. The second word, ho, has a numeric value of 70, or 10 sevens; and 70= 7 X 2 X 5, the sum of these factors being 14, or 2 sevens. The sum of the numeric values of the first and third words is 1,673, which is 239 sevens. And if we multiply the figures in 1,673 we have 1 X 6 X 7 X 3 = 126, which is 18 sevens.
Thus we have many internal evidences from Biblical Numerics that this, though the shortest text in the Bible, in genuine. There are also external evidences, which involve the relationship of this verse to others verses, which we need not go into here. ’65-71
Jesus—Saying To Peter. Did The Cock Crow Once Or Twice.
Question (1966)—In Matt. 26:34 (comp. Luke 22:34; John 13:38) it is said that Jesus told Peter that before the cock would crow that night, Peter would deny Him three times; but in Mark 14:30 it is recorded that Jesus said, “In this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.” How many times did the cock crow in connection with Peter’s denial of our Lord? Are we to understand that Jesus made both of these statements?
Answer.—Jesus doubtless made both of these statements, each writer recording the statement that more especially impressed him. The expression, “before the cock crow,” is used in a technical sense and in a natural sense. In its technical sense it means 3:00 a.m. (Mark 13:35), because at that time in the Orient cocks habitually crow. Hence arose the custom of calling 3:00 a.m. “cock crowing.”
Jesus’ statement in Matt. 26:34 uses the expression in its technical sense. Accordingly, we may paraphrase it as follows: This very night, before 3:00 o’clock, thou shalt deny me three times. In Mark 14:30, 68, 72, the words are used in the natural sense, i.e., that night before the cock would crow two times Peter would deny Jesus three times. The second crowing here referred to was one that occurred at the usual time, 3:00 a.m.; and the first one occurred earlier, at an unusual time, before the general cockcrowing; for it is a fact of experience that exceptionally, especially near the time of the full moon, some cocks crow quite a while before cocks in general crow. In this case a cock crowed some time before 3:00 a.m., or before cockcrowing time. We understand that Jesus first used the expression of Matt. 26:34; and then after Peter vehemently denied His statement, He added by way of emphasis the statement that the threefold denial would be before two cockcrowings, an unusually early one and the usual one. ’66-23
Jesus—His Feet Upon The Mount Of Olives (Zech. 14:4).
Question (1968)—Does not Zech. 14:4 show that “in that day”—the Day of Jesus Second Advent—His feet shall stand upon the mount of Olives and that therefore He will be visible to men’s physical eyes?
Answer.—This verse has sometimes been mistakenly used to try to prove such a thought. But verse 3 shows that it is not Jesus’ feet but Jehovah’s feet that are referred to here. God says (Isa. 66:1), “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.” For many centuries mankind has roamed the earth, but no one has found Jehovah’s literal feet upon it. No person reasoning clearly on the subject would dispute that this language is symbolic. Zechariah’s prophecy refers to God’s re-establishment of His dominion in the earth. This dominion has long been comparatively abandoned to Satan, “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4; John 14:30; 18:36). We still pray, “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10), and this prayer will soon be answered.
God is now, in this Time of Trouble, pouring out His righteous indignation upon the nations of Satan’s empire; the earth is being devoured with the fire of His jealously, but soon the new order will be ushered in. Then His symbolic feet (favor and dominion) shall stand upon the symbolic Mount of Olives (the Kingdom, with its light, peace and Divine blessings), and He will “turn to the people a pure language [the pure message of Truth, uncontaminated with the many contradictory teachings of men], that they may all call upon the name of the Lord [Jehovah], to serve him with one consent”(Zech. 3:8, 9). For a further explanation of the symbology of Zechariah’s prophecy regarding Jehovah’s feet, the Mount of Olives, etc., please see The Battle of Armageddon, pages 649-656. ’68-62 (Sept.)
Jesus—Did God Really Forsake Jesus.
Question (1971)—Shortly before Jesus died on the cross, why did He pray, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34). Had God really forsaken Jesus?
Answer.—Jesus as a New Creature was never forsaken by the Heavenly Father, though near the very end, while Jesus was on the cross at Calvary, God did forsake Jesus’ humanity. The supreme agony of Jesus’ New Creature was experienced in Gethsemane (Luke 22:41-44), and the supreme agony of His humanity expressed in the above quotations, was experienced in one of His last moments on the cross, when He recognized that as a human being He had been forsaken by God! His cry of anguish occurred shortly before He died, and was uttered, not by His New Creature, but by His humanity, as Psa. 22:1-18 proves.
As Adam’s substitute, the ransom or corresponding price for him and the race that was in his loins when he sinned, “the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5, 6) had to suffer all the same kinds of things that Adam suffered for his sin. One of the things that Adam had to suffer for his sin was the feeling of abandonment by God. Therefore Jesus’ humanity as Adam’s substitute had to suffer this kind of feeling that Adam suffered. Jesus’ humanity did not taste of this form of the dregs in His cup of woe until shortly before He died. Up to shortly before His death, His humanity, hoping for deliverance, as we gather from Psa. 22, felt that God was with Him as a man; but at “about the ninth hour” (which ended at 3 p.m.), feeling Himself surely to be dying and almost dead as a human being, He saw that He was not getting human life for Himself as a reward of keeping the natural law and the Mosaic law. He therefore concluded that, as a human being, He was evidently abandoned by God, which was also true. This filled His human soul, which always before had basked in the sunlight of the Father’s smiling face, with the deepest woe that a perfect, sinless human being could feel. His brain, now that He was in the extremity of death, having almost no more life-principle to operate its thinking processes normally, could not understand why God would forsake Him. But, as often occurs with those who are dying, His little remaining vitality soon returned to His brain, and He recovered from His deep agony. ’71-22; ’97-22
Jesus—Spirit Deposited With The Father.
Question (1971)—What did Jesus mean when He said (Luke 23:46): “Father into thy hands I commend my spirit”?
Answer.—The Greek word pneuma, here translated “spirit,” like the corresponding Hebrew word ruach, has at least twelve different meanings, as used in the Bible. The root meaning of these words is invisible power, and it underlies all of the meanings, as follows: (1) Influence or power (Gen. 1:2; Judges 15:14; Job 33:4; Luke 1:35); (2) air (Gen. 7:22; Job 41:16); (3) wind (Gen. 8:1; Ex. 10:13, 19; 14:21; 15:10; John 3:8); (4) breath (Gen. 6:17; 7:15; Ezek. 37:5, 6, 8, 9; James 2:26, margin); (5) life-principle (Eccles. 3:19, 21; Rev. 11:11); (6) vitality, vigor or animation (Gen. 45:27; Judges 15:19; Acts 17:16); (7) the privilege to live (Num. 16:22; Eccl. 12:7; Luke 8:55); (8) the right to life (Psa. 31:5; Acts 7:59); (9) the disposition—the mind, heart and will (Ex. 35:21; Ezek. 36:26; Rom. 8:15; 1 Cor. 2:12; 2 Tim. 1:7); (10) the New Creature (Isa. 26:9; Rom. 8:13; Gal. 5:17); (11) a spirit being (Psa. 104:4; John 4:24; Heb. 1:7, 14); (12) doctrine, teaching (Isa. 29:24; 2 Thes. 2:2, 8; 1 John 4:1).
The Greek word that in Luke 23:46 is translated “commend” means to deposit, to commit or entrust something into another’s charge or care. Jesus’ prayer therefore obviously uses the word “spirit” in sense (8) mentioned above. It contains two thoughts: (1) that He deposited with the Father His right to life as a New Creature, for God to keep it safely until the time for His resurrection, when God would return it to Him, and (2) that He deposited His human right to life, for His use of it after His resurrection in the Divine nature, in an imputation for the Church during the Gospel Age, and for an application for the world in the Millennial Age. He made the deposit in the full assurance of faith that God would keep it for its intended uses. ’71-22; ’97-22
Jesus—His Advice To A Young Man, “Sell That Thou Hast, And Give To The Poor” Matt. 19:21.
Question (1971)—In Matt. 19:21 we read of Jesus advice to a young man: “Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” Should we go and literally do as the Master here advised?
Answer.—If that young man had assented to the Lord’s proposition, and had made further inquiry as to the particulars, it is our opinion that Jesus would have modified His statement to the extent of suggesting that the selling and giving to the poor be not done all at once, but gradually, as the necessities might seem to open up. In the language of the Apostle, “Let your moderation be known unto all men” (Phil 4:5). We are to use earthly things and earthly opportunities and temporalities with great moderation, self-denial, as the case may seem to make necessary.
We are to have mercy, compassion, sympathy, and love. Did not our Lord allow Mary to anoint His head and also His feet and were not these caresses and manifestations of love of an earthly sort? There are various items to intimate the Lord’s special love for Lazarus, Martha and Mary, James and John, and for His mother. And this would seem to give us ground for a similar course. But as Jesus did not allow those earthly loves to hinder Him from the Father’s service, so we, also, must be on the alert about the Father’s business. ’71-79
Jesus—“I, If I be lifted Up, Will Draw All Men” John. 12:32.
Question (1958)—What is meant by “lifted up” in our Lord’s expression, ”I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32)?
Answer.—The primary thought undoubtedly is our Lord’s crucifixion—His lifting up on the cross, as the great sin-offering on behalf of “the sins of the whole world” (John 12:33; 1 John 2:2). It is as a result or consequence of this sacrifice that all the blessings, which God has purposed and promised, shall eventually come to our race. Until the atonement for our sin had been made, nothing permanent could be done for man’s release; for the sentence upon him was a death sentence.
Our Lord’s lifting up was as the antitype of the brazen serpent which Moses lifted up in the wilderness (Num. 21:9; John 3:14, 15); by looking to it, the Israelites, bitten by the fiery serpents, were healed,—in type of how the world of mankind, bitten by sin, poisoned and dying, may have life through the exercise of faith in the Redeemer, based upon His great sacrifice—His lifting up as our ransom.
A secondary thought connected with this passage would be that our Lord’s obedience in laying down His life as our sin-offering led directly to His own exaltation to power and great glory; as the Apostle has stated it, “Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, . . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).
It is by reason of our Lord’s lifting up, in both of these senses that the blessing is to come to the world. His lifting up as the sin-offering provided our purchase-price; His lifting up in exaltation as the great Prophet, Priest and King, is equally necessary to the drawing of the world of mankind, and the resultant blessing upon all who yield to the drawing influence.
While considering this passage, it is well to have the proper thought in mind respecting the drawing. That our Lord is not drawing all men to Himself at the present time is evident to everyone: moreover, the Scriptures assure us that He is not drawing men at the present time: on the contrary, His own words are that during the present Age the Father does all the drawing: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). The drawing by the Son will not begin until after the drawing by the Father has accomplished its intended purpose. That purpose, as Scripturally expressed, is “to take out of them a people for his name” (Acts 15:14)—to gather out of the world an elect Church as a Bride for His Son, to bear the name of Christ, to be His Bride and Joint-heir, “members in particular of His Body.”
When the election of this Gospel Age shall have accomplished its purpose, and the elect shall all have been fully perfected, then will begin the time in which the Son will “draw all men,” the world of mankind, as the Father has been drawing the Church during this Age. In this work of drawing all men, the 144,000 will be associated with the Lord as His Bride and Joint-heir, to reign with Him on the earth (Rev. 14:1; 22:17; 5:10; 20:4, 6).
It has required this entire Gospel Age To lift up, first the Head, and afterward the members of His body, joint-sacrificers with Him. With the completion in death of the sufferings of the Christ, including all down to the last member of the Body, the entire Little Flock is through the power of the first resurrection lifted up in the secondary sense, of exaltation. And as soon as the Great Multitude is prepared to serve before the throne (Rev. 7:9-17), and the rest of the elect are fully perfected, then will begin the work of drawing the world—pointing all to the great sin offering at Calvary.
That our Lord meant by this expression, “lifted up,” more than His own crucifixion is evident from His words, “When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he” (John 8:28). The Jews do not yet know Christ as the Messiah: and this is an additional proof that His words include the lifting up, the figurative crucifying, all the members of His Body—the Church (Rom. 6:6, Gal. 2:20; 2 Tim. 2:11, 12).
The drawing does not mean, as some have erroneously supposed, a compulsory forcing of mankind. Some Universalists have used this passage as though it supported their contention; but rightly understood, it is quite to the contrary. It intimates that the Lord will exert a drawing and helpful influences upon all men, but nevertheless leave their own wills free to act; for He seeketh such to worship Him as worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
In proof that the word, “drawing,” as used in the Spiritual sense, does not signify compulsion note well the fact that the Father’s drawing during this Gospel Age has not been compulsory: it has consisted of enlightenment and help and opportunities which may be either accepted or resisted by all who experience the drawing. Thus we are distinctly told concerning this calling and drawing that “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14), because few make their calling and election sure by obedience to the terms of the call. So, too, it will be during the Millennial Age; the light, the opportunities, the general influence of that time, will be so favorable, that all shall come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4; Isa. 11:9) and to opportunities of harmony with God. And it shall come to pass that the soul who will not hear (obey) that Prophet, Priest and King, then in power, shall be destroyed from among His people—in the Second Death (Acts 3:23; Psa. 145:20; Rev. 21:8). ’58-21; ’63-53
Jesus—Said, “Touch Me Not.”
Question (1973)—Why did our Lord Jesus after His resurrection tell Mary Magdalene, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17)?
Answer.—Many, including even some Bible teachers, hold and teach the mistaken idea that if Mary had touched Jesus at that time, dire consequences would have followed. But we know definitely that such a teaching is incorrect and unscriptural. How? Because the Bible clearly states that on that very same day, the day of Jesus’ resurrection, and also later in the period before His ascension. His disciples did touch Him, without dire consequences.
In Matt. 28:9, 10 we read that when certain of the women were on the way to tell the other disciples that Jesus had risen and that He would meet them in Galilee, “Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet.” And in John 20, the same chapter from which Jesus’ statement to Mary is taken, He later told Thomas to touch Him, saying (v. 27), “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing.”
As to Jesus telling Mary to touch Him not, the book The Time is at Hand, p. 113, explains about it, as follows:
“Her first impulse was to embrace him, and to tarry in his presence. But Jesus gently informed her that there was a very important mission for her to perform now, in bearing witness to the fact of his resurrection, and that she should be in haste to carry the message and establish the faith of the other disciples, still in perplexity and uncertainty, saying, “Touch [Greek, haptomai, embrace] me not [do not tarry for further demonstration of your affection now]; for I am not yet ascended to my Father [I will be with you for a short time yet]: but go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God.’ (John 20:17.) Through the other women also he had sent them word that he would meet them in Galilee.” ’73-39
Jesus—The Joy That Was Set Before Him.
Question (1979)—In Heb. 12:2 we are told to look unto Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” What was the joy that was set before Him?
Answer.—Because Jesus “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,“ God “highly exalted him,” and gave Him “a name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:8, 9; Eph. 1:20, 21; Heb. 1:4-13).
But we may be sure that our Lord’s joy was not merely the anticipation of the highest place in the New Creation, far above all other creations, though this was doubtless a part of His joy. He Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). “God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7), and Jesus delighted in doing the Father’s will (Psa. 40:8; Heb. 10:7; John 4:34). He said, “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38).
According to the Scriptures, the joy that was set before Jesus and in which He found special delight consisted of several features: (1) doing the Father’s will, to His pleasement: (2) obtaining the high reward of the Divine nature and heirship of God, including vicegerency; (3) winning and exalting the Church; (4) blessing the world, especially Millennially with restitution; (5) exterminating, or extirpating, evil; (6) giving everlasting life to the obedient and working eternal annihilation to the incorrigible, and (7) amid all this and all subsequent activities glorifying God.
While Jesus was laying down His flesh for the life of the world (John 6:51), even at Calvary, He experienced in large measure the joy of serving, pleasing and glorifying the Heavenly Father (Matt. 3:17; 12:16-21; 17:5); but in general He looked forward to the other features of the joy set before Him in Happy anticipation. He experienced some of them in part before Calvary, others of them in part from His resurrection onward. He entered into one important phase of His joy in 1914, when He began in the world’s great Time of Trouble (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21) to overthrow Satan’s empire as a part of annihilating evil. He will enter into other features of His joy in His Mediatorial Millennial Reign, and into still others in the Little Season (Rev. 20:3, 7-9; 21:8) and thereafter (Eph. 2:7). All of the features of His joy are progressive; and in His post-Millennial works in the Ages to come He will glorify God eternally. ’79-22
Jesus—Personal Exaltation Not Jesus’ Motive.
Question (1979)—Did Jesus serve God because of desire for personal exaltation?
Answer.—Jesus did not have in the least degree the unholy ambition of Lucifer, who said in his heart, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isa. 14:13, 14). On the contrary, Jesus divested Himself of His prehuman nature and humbled Himself; “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” In obedience to God He suffered much, “and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” doing “all to the glory of God” (Phil. 2:7, 8; 1 Cor. 10:31). His chief desire was to honor His Father‘s name.
Notice how, near the end of His severe trials and persecutions, our Lord, with full loyalty and supreme devotion to His Father, prayed (John 12:28), “Father, glorify thy name.” The Father’s reply was meaningful: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
In many respects God had already brought glory to His name through His only begotten Son, starting with the works of creation (John 1:3; Col. 1:15-17). And in the wonderful works of salvation for the Church and the world, during the Gospel Age and the Millennial Age, and then in the further works of creation, etc., throughout endless Ages. He would glorify His name additionally, through His beloved Son; for of the increase of Jesus’ government and of peace there shall be no end (Isa. 9:7).
A little later, with characteristic modesty and supreme joy in doing the Father’s will, whatever the cost might be, Jesus did not refer to the great glory, honor and immortality promised to Him in the resurrection, and expected and appreciated by Him, but in beautiful simplicity and humility asked the Father merely that He be restored to His previous station. He was not a hireling (John 10:12), serving for personal reward or exaltation. He was glad to have the Father’s approval, and He esteemed it honor enough to have been chosen of the Father as His Agent to provide the Ransom-price for Adam and his race. His simple request was, “Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5). Obviously our Lord was not serving God from selfish motives. ’79-22
Jesus Christ—Human Body Not In Heaven.
Question (1960)—When Jesus ascended into heaven, was it with His human body, and does He still have that body of flesh with its spear-thrust wound and nail-prints?
Answer.—There are mainly two views prevalent among Christians on this subject. One is that Jesus arose from the dead in the same human body that He had during His life upon earth, and that this body of flesh, with its eyes, ears, nose, tongue, hands, feet, etc., is still his body in the heavenly or spiritual realms in harmony with this view, it is supposed that the Church, when “changed” (1 Cor. 15:51) in the resurrection, will nevertheless, in being made “like him” (1 John 3:2), also have their bodies of flesh back again. Accordingly, the Roman Catholics now claim that Mary, the mother of Jesus in His humanity, has been taken bodily into heaven!
The other view is that Jesus arose from the dead in a spirit body, which is not a fleshly body in any respect, that He was “put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18—A.R.V.); that God and the other spirit beings, who are resplendent in glory, cannot be seen by man’s physical eyes without injury to them (John 4:24; 1:18; Acts 9:3, 4, 8, 9; 22:11; 1 Tim. 6:16); that our risen Lord, being no longer a human being, but a glorious spirit being, appeared to His disciples, like angels had previously manifested themselves to other humans (see e.g., Gen. 16:7-13; 18; 19:1; Judges 6:11-22; 13:3-20), by hiding His spiritual glory, clothing Himself, as it were, with flesh and garments in order to be seen by their physical eyes; that He appeared to them, in various forms (Mark 16:12), to demonstrate to them that He was no longer dead, but alive.
We believe that the latter view is the correct one, for it is supported by the Scriptures. St. Paul tells us very plainly (1 Cor. 15:35-50) that the body that we sow in death is “not that body that shall be,” but that when the soul or person who has died (Gen. 2:7, 17; Ezek. 18:4, 20) is awakened from the sleep of death (Dan. 12:2; John 5:28, 29; 1 Thes. 4:13-18), “God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him”—some (the part of the seed of Abraham that becomes as “the stars of heaven,” i.e., spiritual—Gen. 22:16-18) will be given celestial (heavenly) bodies (like that of the “last Adam”—Jesus—who was made “a life-giving spirit”) and some (that part of Abraham’s seed that becomes as “the sand which is upon the sea shore,” i.e., earthly) will be given “bodies terrestrial [earthly] (like that of the first Adam, who was “of the earth, earthly”)—for those who “inherit the earth” (Psa. 37:9-11, 22, 29, 34, 38; Prov. 2:21, 22; Isa. 60:21; 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1-5; Num. 14:21; Hab. 2:14) will need earthly bodies, adapted to earthly conditions.
Referring to the Church, the Apostle states (v. 49): “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” Thus they will have spirit bodies of the Divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), for Jesus, who sits “on the right hand of the Majesty on high,” is since His resurrection “the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:3); hence, as in the case of God Himself, Jesus does not have a body of flesh. Likewise, when the Apostle John (1 John 3:2) said of the Church, “it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He [Jesus] shall appear [at His Second Advent, the time of the resurrection of the dead], we shall be like him; for we shall saw him as he is,” he was not speaking of a resurrection of the fleshly body, for then it would already have appeared what we shall be; rather, he was referring to the Church’s future spirit bodies—of the Divine nature—like unto Jesus’ glorious resurrection body, His spirit body. It had not been revealed to the Church what those spirit bodies would be.
Furthermore, the Apostle Paul states, “Flesh and blood [human nature (comp. Matt. 16:17; Gal. 1:16; Heb. 2:14), with its flesh, blood bones, etc., adapted to and essential for existence amid earthly conditions] cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption [the human body, consisting of corruptible substances, i.e., flesh, bones, etc.] inherit incorruption” (1 Cor. 15:50). Thus when Jesus appeared to His disciples in the closed room, having materialized a body of flesh, and clothing for it (His former clothing had been taken by the soldiers at the time of His crucifixion—Matt. 27:35), He told them plainly that “a spirit hath not flesh and bones”—corruptible substances (such as He had materialized in at that time)—which He had created for them to “handle” and “see” in order that they might be convinced that He was no longer dead, but alive (Luke 24:39).
And to convince them of His ascension into heaven, He again materialized a body of flesh for the purpose and retained it until “he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9-11). He will not come again in like form (in a materialized body of flesh), though He comes again in like manner—quietly, secretly, so far as the world is concerned, and unknown except to His faithful followers—“Behold, I come as a thief” (Rev. 16:15). Those who like to sing, “I shall know Him by the nail-prints in His hands.” should examine the Scriptures more carefully. We will be glad to hear from any of our readers who may have questions to ask or who desire further information on this important subject. ’60-39; ’73-39
Jesus Christ—“The Same Yesterday, And Today, And Forever” (Heb. 13:8).
Question (1957)—In Heb. 13:8 we read: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” Does this mean that Jesus Christ has been, is, and will eternally be exactly the same in every respect?
Answer—Such an interpretation of this text will at once be recognized by students of the Bible as surely incorrect, for, though in many essential aspects there has been absolutely no change in Jesus, in other respects we know He has undergone certain definite changes.
After the prehuman Jesus was brought forth as “the beginning of the creation of God” (Rev. 3:14), He, as the Word, or Logos, became God’s Agent in creation (John 1:3). This called for changes in His activities from time to time. For example, He had already been active in creating the heavens and various kinds of vegetation, lower animals, etc., on earth, when God said to Him, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” This denoted a change of work on the part of the prehuman Jesus; and there were many other changes of work on His part before He became flesh.
In due time, in harmony with God’s Plan, the Logos willingly divested Himself of His prehuman honor and nature and became flesh. “He was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor”; He “took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men”; “He took not on him the nature of angels”; He “was made a little lower than the angels”; “He also himself likewise took part of the same [flesh and blood]” (John 1:14; 2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:7; Heb. 2:9, 14, 16). These Scriptures show that Jesus experienced a great change of nature at the time He was made flesh. He who had been the mighty Logos, a spirit being, became a helpless little babe, a human being.
Other great changes came when He reached 30, the age of manhood under the Law Covenant. He then consecrated Himself to do the Father’s will (Psa. 40:8; Heb. 10:7), even unto death, was baptized by John at Jordan and was begotten of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:13-17). He began His ministry, which was very different from His former vocation as a carpenter.
As even greater change took place after His death, when He was born from the dead (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5) in the resurrection. He was “put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” “being made so much better than the angels”; “God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name” (1 Pet. 3:18—A.R.V.; Heb. 1:4; Phil. 2:9). He was changed from human to spirit nature, partaking of the Divine nature (John 5:26; 2 Pet. 1:4). When He appeared to His disciples after His resurrection it was evident that He was different. He appeared to them in a variety of different forms (Mark 16:12)—a gardener, a traveler, etc.—and they did not even recognize Him at first. Also, He appeared to Saul of Tarsus in His glorious spirit body. ’57-54; ’87-23
Jesus Christ—Meaning Of “Seek And Ye Shall Find” (Matt. 7:7).
Question (1966)—What did our Lord mean in Matt. 7:7 and Luke 11:9, when He said, “Seek and ye shall find”?
Answer.—Jesus here was illustrating an important principle. We usually find that for which we seek. Those who approach the Bible with an earnest and unbiased desire to find in it God’s message, will be guided by the Lord (John 8:31, 32; 16:13). As it is written, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6).
On the other hand, those who approach the Bible from the standpoint of cavil, unbelief, antagonism, are equally sure to find what they seek—flaws, contradictions, etc. God’s Word really has no flaws, inconsistencies or contradictions in it, for God does not contradict Himself, and His work is perfect. But those who are bent on finding fault may find seeming contradictions, etc., in the Bible, due to faulty translations or because of their own lack of understanding.
The same principle holds true as respects Truth literature. As those who so desire can pick flaws with the Bible and turn and twist its statements into unreason, so the same class can surely be successful in dealing similarly with the Truth literature—its Bible-study books, booklets, magazines and tracts. Some see nothing or very little that is profitable in them, so cast them aside or find fault with them or twist and pervert their statements, while others feast upon the Bible and such Bible helps and greatly rejoice in the Lord’s bountifully spread table of good spiritual things—the “meat in due season” for “the household of faith” (Luke 12:42; Gal. 6:10). ’66-86
Jesus Christ—Became A Human Being.
Question (1961)—Why was it necessary for Jesus, the Son of God, to become a human being?
Answer.—We read in John 1:14 (A.R.V.) that “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” Thus He who is termed “the beginning of the creation of God” (Rev. 3:14) was made flesh—became a human being. He left the glory that He had with the Father before the world was (John 17:5) “and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:7, 8); he “was made a little lower than the angels [a human being] for the suffering of death”—“that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:9).
The justice of God’s law is absolute: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth and a life for a life (Ex. 21:23-25). If there was to be any salvation for the human race, it was necessary that a perfect man should die for the perfect man Adam, who forfeited human life for himself and the race in his loins when he sinned (Rom. 5:17-19; 1 Cor. 15:22). Therefore the Son of God was carnated, “became flesh,” that He might become that ransom (corresponding price) which would redeem Adam and his race. He became a perfect man, as Adam was—hence a corresponding price; he was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:26). Joseph was not His father, else He would have been born in sin, helpless to give a ransom for Adam and his race (Psa. 49:7). God was His Father, and He was born of a virgin. Well may we thank God for the birth of Jesus as a human being—He who is our only hope of salvation (Acts 4:12)! ’61-94
Jesus Christ—Now A Spirit, Not Fleshly, Being.
Question (1983)—What Scriptures prove that Jesus since His resurrection is a spirit being and no longer in any sense human, fleshly?
Answer.—We call attention to four passages especially:
(1) 1 Cor. 15:45, proves this very clearly and conclusively: “The first Adam [Gen. 2:7] was made a living soul [a human being and a human body]; the last [Jesus, the Second (v. 47)] Adam was made a quickening [life-giving] spirit.” Therefore as the Adam of the Garden of Eden was made a human being, so the Adam of heaven [Jesus in His resurrection] was made a spirit being.
In v. 46 Paul expressly tells us that the Adam of the Garden of Eden was not a spirit, but a human being; and that the later Adam, our Lord, is a spirit being. The Apostle proves this by showing in v. 47 that the first Adam had a body made “of the earth,” of material, corruptible substances—flesh, bones, tendons, skin, blood, hair, etc. (1 Cor. 15:50)—while the Second Adam, our Lord, has a body “from heaven,” of spiritual substances.
In the Greek of v. 47 the expression translated “of the” in the phrase “of the earth” is the same as that translated “from” in the phrase “from heaven.” In both cases the substances from which the bodies were formed are meant. These three verses (1 Cor. 15:45-47) by their direct statements and by their contrasts of the two Adams, as well as their bodies and the substances from which they were made, prove that our Lord was raised from the dead a spirit being with a spirit body, and not in any sense a human being with a fleshly, human body.
(2) Our Lord Jesus is in 2 Cor. 3:17 again directly called a spirit: “Now the Lord is that spirit.”
(3) The Apostle Paul in 2 Cor. 5:16 writes: “Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now [and] henceforth know we him [so] no more.” He no more knew Christ as a human being, “according to the flesh,” though the disciples had once known Him as such before our Lord’s death. This verse therefore shows that Jesus was no more a human being when Paul used this language of Him, though previously He had been a human being. The reason for the change was that when our Lord was resurrected He was raised from the dead a spirit being, and not in any sense a fleshly, human being.
(4) 1 Pet. 3:18 is strongly to the point when it says of Jesus’ death and resurrection, “being put to death in the flesh, but made alive [not “in the flesh,” be it noted, but] in the spirit” (ASV). Let the reader particularly note the contrast as given in this verse between that in which He was put to death and that in which he was made alive. According to creedal theology, which teaches that our Lord was raised from the dead a human and not a spirit being, this verse should read, “Being put to death in the flesh, and made alive in the flesh.” But God, who cannot lie, declares the exact opposite, saying, “Being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” The article “the” is not found in the Greek before the words for flesh and spirit: “put to death in flesh, but made alive in spirit” is the literal rendering from the Greek. Therefore our Lord is now a spirit.
The four passages just quoted and briefly explained demonstrate that our Lord since his resurrection is no more in any sense a fleshly, human being but is a spirit being, and that, according to other passages (e.g., 2 Pet. 1:4), of the Divine nature, the highest of all spirit natures. ’83-30
Jesus Christ—Was He Resurrected With A Fleshly Body (John 2:19-21).
Question (1983)—Does not John 2:19-21 prove that Jesus’ fleshly body was to be His resurrection body?
Answer.—When He spoke of raising the temple of His body, He was referring to the antitypical Temple (1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:19-22), the Church, His Body (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:12-27; Eph. 1:23; 3:6; 4:4, 12, 16; 5:23, 30; Col. 1:18, 24). Jesus promised that even if enemies killed the Body members He would raise them up on the third day. According to Bible chronology (see The Time is at Hand), Jesus spoke in the 5th 1,000-year day from Adam’s fall in 4127 B. C. But on the 3rd 1,000-year from then, the 7th from Adam’s fall, in which we are now living, He raises the Body members up and they live and reign with Him (Rev. 20:4, 6). ’83-31
Jesus Christ—The Time Of His Glorification.
Question (1987)—In Col. 3:4 we read: “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory,” and in Rom. 8:17: “if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Do these texts prove that Jesus was not glorified at the time of His ascension into heaven, but rather that His glorification was to wait until His Church would all be with Him in glory?
Answer.—The inspired Apostle John settles the matter beyond all question when he states (John 7:39; see Diaglott, ASV) that “the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” But after Jesus had finished His sacrifice, had been raised from the dead by the Father’s power and had ascended up on high, there to appear in the presence of God on our behalf, the holy Spirit was poured out upon the Church, at Pentecost (Acts 2:33). It thus became a sure indication that prior to Pentecost our Lord had been glorified. Notice this point distinctly. If the holy Spirit was not given before Jesus’ ascension, because He was not yet glorified, it proves that when it was given, a little later, He had been glorified.
Note also the picture of His own glorification given to us by our Lord, through His servant John (Rev. 1:1), as recorded in Rev. 5. He “that sat on the throne” is Jehovah. The book”—scroll—in His right hand (in Divine power and keeping), written inside and outside (“within and on the backside”), represents the Divine Plan of the Ages. The things written on the outside are the surface things of God’s Word, which are easily seen and understood. But it is different with the things written inside. The scroll’s being “sealed with seven seals” represents the complete secrecy of the Divine purposes related inside that scroll. From before the foundation of the world it had been in the hand (power) of the great Eternal. He had given hints respecting His purposes and had caused these purposes to be symbolized in the Law and to some extent to be described by the Prophets.
But still His main purpose was a hidden mystery; for the Prophets did not understand the things which they wrote, nor could any understand them until God’s “due time” (1 Pet. 1:10-12; Eph. 1:9; Col. 1:26; Rom. 16:25-27).
In Rev. 5:2, the “strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice,” that asked the question, represents the Law Covenant; it found none anywhere (v. 3) during the Jewish Age worthy to become the Interpreter and Executor of God’s Plan; and the God-fearing of that and of this Age (pictured in John—E 5, p. 105) grieved greatly at the Law-proven sinfulness of the human family, and its inability to provide one worthy to become this Interpreter and Executor (v. 4).
But the joyous news finally came (v. 5): “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (comp. Isa. 11:1-16).
The Strong One among the leaders of God’s people prevailed—He not only fulfilled every demand of Justice in keeping perfectly its every precept and in meeting its sentence against Adam and his race, but also fulfilled every suggestion of Love in fully meeting every occasion of sacrifice.
The further unfolding of the panoramic vision leaves no doubt as to who is meant. Jesus our Lord is symbolized by a slain lamb restored to life, and to Him was given the wonderful scroll (vs. 6, 7).
Then (after His resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father) He was glorified and received a name above every name; then all the angels of God worshipped Him; then began a new song (v. 9), as follows: “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed [the oldest MS omits the word us; see ASV, Diaglott] to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation”; then the innumerable company of angels round about the throne to proclaim (v. 12), “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” Since ascension and His glorification, i.e., since Pentecost, the Lamb, as the Interpreter and Executor of God’s Plan as found in the Bible, has been breaking the seven seals during the seven stages of the Church’s history. He has broken the seventh seal here in the seventh, the Laodicean stage.
The evidence that our Lord at His ascension was glorified, and invested with honor, power, dominion and a share in the Father’s throne (glory, dignity, power) as His Vicegerent in the executing of His great Plan, is overwhelming. The glorification or installment into honor and power should not be confounded with the change of nature which occurred in our Lord’s resurrection, by which He was raised a spirit being of the highest order, the Divine nature. After He was “made flesh,” i.e., “in his humiliation,” He had a human body, but the body given Him in the resurrection to the Divine nature is His glorious body (John 1:14; Acts 8:33; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 1:3-5). This, however, has nothing whatever to do with the glory or majesty of office to which He was introduced when “he ascended up on high” (Eph. 4:8) and was received as a sharer of the Father’s throne. The latter glory and majesty is shortly to be made manifest to men (Isa. 11).
The promise in Col. 3:4 was that when Christ, in His Second Advent, shall appear, then the Church shall also appear with Him in glory, with glorious spirit bodies, of the Divine nature (1 Cor. 15:42-44; 2 Pet. 1:4). In Rom. 8:17 the word “together” does not mean simultaneously, at the same instant, but harmoniously, to share the same glory. The previous part of the verse proves this. It speaks of the Church being joint-heirs with Christ, “if indeed we suffer with, so that also we may be glorified with” (see Diaglott, literal translation; also NASB). The suffering with Him, or together, does not mean that the Church suffered at the same time, but rather that they shared the same kind of suffering, for the same cause of faithfulness to God; and similarly, their being glorified with Him, or together, is in the sense of their sharing the same glory with which our Lord has already been glorified. ’87-39
Jewish Nation—Servants Not Sons.
Question (1972)—In John 8:41, Jesus, speaking to certain Jews who sought to kill Him, said: “Ye do the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.” If the Jews were servants of God, not sons, how is it that they here spoke of God as their Father?
Answer.—The Jews were not in the habit of thinking of themselves as sons of God, but as His servants; for when Jesus said that God was His Father, they took up stones to stone Him to death, declaring that He was blaspheming (John 5:17, 18; 10:31-33). It is manifest, therefore, that they were not accustomed to speak of themselves as the sons of God, or they would not have felt bitter toward someone else for using the same expression.
In this case, however, Jesus had them in a kind of trap. He had said that they were doing the deeds of their father (the Devil—v. 44), and they wished to get away from that accusation. So they tried to justify themselves by claiming that they were the children of God, using this expression, “We have one Father, even God,” in the sense that they were not children of fornication—that they were lawfully born—and therefore were descended in a natural way from Father Adam, who was a son of God (Luke 3:38). Consequently they were claiming, along this line, that they also were the children of God—a false claim, however, for they had the spirit of the Adversary, and therefore would properly be considered as the Adversary’s children. He was responsible for the spirit they were manifesting. At that time there was no sons of God on the human plane, except Jesus Himself. Later the Gospel Church were called to become sons of God; for, “As many as received him, to them gave he the power [Greek, exousia, authority; the right, or, privilege—margin] to become the sons of God” (John 1:12). ’72-38
Jews—Belief On The Resurrection.
Question (1980)—What are the beliefs of the Jews about the resurrection of the dead?
Answer.—The inspired Old Testament writers firmly believed in the resurrection. Job expressed intense longing and a firm conviction that he would experience the resurrection awakening (Job 14:13-15; 19:25, 26, ASV).
David, speaking prophetically for the Messiah, expresses confidence in the soul coming forth from hell (sheol)—the unconscious conditions in the death state—in the resurrection awakening (Psa. 16:10, 11; compare Acts 2:29-34). He exclaims confidently, “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (Psa. 17:15).
Isaiah (26:19) manifests strong faith in the resurrection. Daniel (12:2) does also, stating, “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
Accordingly, the writers of the Bible believed that the only hope for a future life was through a resurrection of the dead. The immortality of the human soul is nowhere taught in the Old Testament. Rather, it plainly teaches the mortality of the human soul (see, e.g., Psa. 78:50; Ezek. 18:4, 20; Eccles. 9:5, 10).
It is thus evident that in the early days the Jews did not believe in the immortality of the human soul. The Jewish Encyclopedia (Vol. 6, pp. 564, col. 2, 565) says: “The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body is a matter of philosophical or theological speculation rather than of simple faith, and is accordingly nowhere expressly taught in Holy Scripture . . . The belief in the immortality of the soul came to the Jews from contact with Greek thought and chiefly through the philosophy of Plato, its principal exponent, who was led to it through Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries in which Babylonian and Egyptian views were strangely blended . . . The prevailing rabbinical conception of the future world is that of the world of resurrection.”
The belief in the resurrection is expressed in the Jewish liturgy, e.g., in the Morning Prayer Elohai Neshamah, in the Shemoneth ’Esreh and in the funeral services. Maimonides made it the last of his 13 articles of belief” “I firmly believe that there will take place a revival of the dead at a time which will please the Creator, blessed be His name.” Sanadia also declared belief in the resurrection to be fundamental.
In the Apostle Paul’s day, the Pharisees affirmed their belief in the resurrection, but the Sadducees claimed that there is no resurrection. Paul’s calling himself a Pharisee and of that lineage and saying that “of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question” had the effect of dividing between the Pharisees and Sadducees in the council of the Jews who were examining him, so that they could not agree to put him to death (Acts 23:6-10).
Many modern Jews stress the importance of living a good life in this present world and de-emphasize the concept of the Messiah, the resurrection and the world to come. (In this they are like the Modernists among professed Christians.)
But with these Jews who are still loyal to and believe in their covenant promises—which teach a resurrection of the dead—God is specially dealing. Unbelieving Jews are dealt with individually by God as are the unbelieving Gentiles. ’80-38
Jews—Belief In Angels Or Spirits.
Question (1980)—Acts 23:8 reads: “The Sadducees say there is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.” Some claim that this proves that there is a spirit, or soul, that at death leaves the body and is conscious independently of the body. What do you say to this?
Answer.—Some assume that three things are referred to in Acts 23:8: (1) the resurrection, (2) angel and (3) spirit. But the passage itself expressly says that only two things are referred to as the points at issue, namely, (1) the resurrection and (2) angel, or spirit, and that “the Pharisees confess both.”
Accordingly by “angel” and “spirit” one and the same thing is here meant. One may ask, why are the terms “angel” and “spirit” both used, if only one thing is meant by them? We answer that a spirit is not always meant by the Greek word aggelos, which means a messenger, whether human or spirit, and which is here translated “angel”; and for this reason the word “spirit” is here used to show that not a human, but a spirit messenger is meant. In other words, the word “spirit” is used in the sentence, not to refer to a third thing, but to limit and explain the meaning of the second thing mentioned in the beliefs of the Pharisees and in the unbeliefs of the Sadducees.
In English the word angel has a very specific meaning; for it refers exclusively in our language, when literally used, to an order of spirit beings; but this is not true of the Greek word aggelos from which our word angel is derived, and for which our word angel is often used in translating from the Greek. The following passages show that the Greek word aggelos may also mean a human messenger: Matt. 11:10; Luke 7:24; 9:52; Jas. 2:25. It is because the Greek word aggelos may mean either a human messenger or a spirit messenger, which in English we call an angel, that St. Luke writing in Greek explains that he is by the word aggelos referring in these verses to a spirit aggelos, not to a human aggelos.
We might also here remark that the Hebrew word for angel--malach—also is frequently used in the Old Testament to refer to human messengers, as the following examples prove: Gen. 32:3, 6; Num. 20:14; 21:21; 22:5; Josh. 6:17, 25; Judg. 6:35, 11:12-14, 17, 19. Indeed malach is translated messenger and ambassador almost as frequently as angel. These considerations show that Acts 23:6-9 does not refer to human beings at all as having in death an existence as spirit beings independent from their bodies. This passage refers to the resurrection and to angels as spirit beings only. It does not refer to the (supposed) spirits of human beings. ’80-39
Jews—Suffering Since 1878.
Question (1978)—Since (as mentioned in the first article in this issue) the “double” (Jer. 16:16) of Divine disfavor to the Jews ended in the Spring of 1878, why have they suffered so much since 1878, especially in the severe persecution under Hitler and others in the Holocaust?
Answer.—The main reason for the sufferings of the Jews since 1878 is that God has permitted “many hunters” (Jer. 16:16), persecutors (who have hunted them as hunters seek their prey), to do their atrocious work, beginning with the pogroms in Russia in 1881 and later in Galicia and Rumania and still continuing. But God has a purpose in having permitted the persecution—to cause Jews to return to their homeland, which comparatively few would do if there were no persecution.
God has used “many fishers” (Jer. 16:16)—those who use the attractive bait of Zionism—to draw the Jews into returning to their homeland. This drawing has been and is being done by many Jews and some Gentiles, including Christian Zionists (among whom we number ourselves).
As Jews, for violating the Law Covenant, Israel was put under the “seven times” punishment from Gentile nations (Lev. 16:18, 21, 24, 28). These “seven times,” or 2520 years (7 X 360 “each day for a year”; Ezek. 4:6), began in 607 B.C. and lasted until the end of the lease of power to the Gentile nations in 1914. Thus some of the Jews’ sufferings from 1878 to 1914 were because of their violations of the Law Covenant.
Also, since 1878, and especially since 1914, some of the Jews’ sufferings have been as humans—as distinct from Jews—such as they incur for human sins (as is true also of the Gentiles), while seeking to maintain and live under the present order of affairs.
Furthermore, many Jews (and Gentiles) have had sufferings as humans in the two phases of the World War and in subsequent wars, such as those on defending their homeland. ’78-47
Jews—Is There Any Scriptural Significance, Of Many Arabs And No Jews Killed In The Recent Earthquake.
Question (1927)—What Scriptural significance, if any, do you attach to the fact that no Jews were injured of killed, while hundreds of Arabs were killed and thousands of them injured, in the recent Palestinian earthquake?
Answer.—The many calamities of the past fifty years and more, including earthquakes, are the Scripturally prophesied accompaniments of our times as the time of the end. Therefore, the recent Palestinian earthquake may reasonably be accounted as being among such calamities. But the most singular feature connected with that earthquake is the fact indicated in the question—the absence of Jewish casualties and the presence of very many Arab casualties, despite the fact that they lived in many places side by side. We cannot regard the immunity of the Jews under such circumstances in any other light than that of a Divine miracle on their behalf and against their enemies, somewhat like that of the passing over of their firstborns in Egypt while the Egyptian firstborns were killed. For the Jew the Scriptural significance would seem to bespeak God’s returning favor, which was prophesied as due from 1878 onward, after their suffering a long time in His disfavor. (Is. 40:1, 2; Jer. 16:12-18; 31:22-40; Ezek. 36:17-28.) For the Arab the Scriptural significance would seem to bespeak God’s disapproval of their opposition to Israel’s coming into and remaining in the Land and His notice to them to leave the promised Land that it might become Israel’s alone. In many passages of the prophets the Lord has promised the Jews a return to the Land as their own. These promises have been entering gradually into fulfilment ever since 1878, when Disraeli, England’s great premier and a Christian Jew, prevailed on the Berlin Congress of Nations to grant the Jews the right of unhindered living in the Holy Land, whereas before none might legally go there for a longer period than three months. Since the Jews, as a result of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, have been returning in greater numbers, the Arabs, who greatly outnumber them in the Holy Land, have been evilly treating them with the purpose of driving them out again. The Arabs have been greatly dissatisfied with the British mandatual representative’s policy of protecting the Jews against their opposition. Nor has the fact that the Jews have been buying property from them deterred them from attempts to intimidate the Jews into leaving the Land. This, we think has led the Lord into taking a hand in the matter; and we, therefore, regard the miraculous sparing of the Jews, and afflicting of the Arabs, in the earthquake, as an expression of His favor to the former, encouraging them to remain and encouraging others of them to come, and as an expression of His disapproval of the Arabs’ misbehavior towards Israel, and as a notice to them to leave the Holy Land in order that His promise of the Land to Israel alone may be realized. ’27-45
Jews—Meaning Of Wave Of “Swastika” Incidents.
Question (1960)—Is there any Scriptural significance to the recent wave of “swastika” incidents in Europe and America, and from Scotland to Australia, in which the swastika emblem used by the Nazis, as well as other anti-Jewish inscriptions, have been marked on synagogues, other Jewish public buildings, etc.?
Answer.—As we have shown in the booklet, Jewish Hopes and Prospects, and in the Israel’s Return leaflet (both advertised on p. 24 of this issue), the Bible in a number of time and sign prophecies points out that now is the time for fleshly Israel to be regathered to their homeland.
Among such prophecies is Jer. 16:14-16, where God tells us that in regathering the Israelites from “ all the lands whither he had driven them” he would use many “fishers” and “hunters.” The “fishers” are those who use the attractive bait of Zionism to lure the Jews, as symbolic fish, to their homeland, and the “hunters” are those who persecute and ravish Israel, who pursue them as a hunter pursues his prey, and thus cause them to flee to their homeland. They have been “hunting” the Jews from every mountain (kingdom), from every hill (the less autocratic governments, viz., the republics and limited monarchies) and out of the holes of the rocks (the secret hiding places among the strongholds of human society, where they have found protection during their dispersion). This regathering of Israel into their homeland is preparatory to their turning to their Messiah (Zech. 12:10; Ezek. 39:27-29), and to His establishing His Kingdom there for the blessing of all the families of the earth (Gen. 12:3; 22:18; Gal. 3:8).
The recent widespread wave of anti-Semitic “swastika” incidents is evidently a part of the work of the “hunters” of Jer. 16:16. Since the close of the second phase of the World War in 1945 and until recently they have been comparatively inactive, but the present wave of “swastika” incidents indicates that they are still very much alive and may become much more so if conditions become favorable for them. No doubt the present incidents will cause some Jews to consider more seriously the matter of returning to their homeland, while they have good opportunity to go there.
The nation of Israel is rightly alarmed over this sudden widespread outbreak of anti-Semitic incidents in Christendom. Israel’s Knesset (parliament) recently voted to issue a “grave warning” to all nations on the dangers to humanity that stem from them. In furthering this measure Justice Minister Pinhas Rosen stated that history has demonstrated that these “loathsome phenomena” must be “radically extirpated by all possible means before they develop from isolated acts of hooliganism into disasters for an entire people and for the whole of humanity,” and he added that grounds for suspicion exist that an international organization—centered in Germany or elsewhere, but, at any rate, using the German language even in other countries—is active in carrying out these operations, and that while there may be no definite proof that such is the case, the co-ordination of the “swastika” incidents and other anti-Semitic acts in a number of countries strongly indicate it.
We are glad to see that many people in many different countries, including some in prominent positions, have publicly deplored and strongly protested against the recent anti-Semitic acts. No truly noble character could approve such acts, or practice persecution. Even though the Christian recognizes and deplores wrongdoing by Jews, even as he does by Gentiles, he cannot be anti-Semitic and practice persecution. The spirit of Christ is not the spirit of persecution.
God overrules even the wrath of man, such as the efforts of the ”hunters,” to make it praise Him by accomplishing certain of His purposes (Psa. 76:10). We rejoice to see God’s plan for Israel fulfilling (Luke 21:28, 31) and the Jews returning more and more to their promised land, for soon the reign of real, lasting peace will be ushered in, “and many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Mica. 4:2; Isa. 2:3). (For a further explanation regarding Israel’s return, etc., please see our Sept. 1959 issue—a copy free on request.) ’60-23
Jews—Do The Orthodox Jews Look For The Messiah.
Question (1961)—Do the Orthodox Jews look for Messiah to come for the blessing of Israel?
Answer.—Some Orthodox Jews have lost all hope in the coming of the Messiah, though there are still many who hold to the promises in the Law and the Prophets to the effect that Messiah, “even the messenger of the covenant,” in whom they delight, “shall come” (Mal. 3:1), and that “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance as the Lord hath said” (Joel 2:32). The Talmud and the Midrash set forth their expectations repeatedly and describe the days before Messiah’s coming very much like the descriptions given in the Old and New Testaments. E.g., in the Midrash on the Song of Solomon, R. Johanan said “At the expiration of the seventh year the scion of David will come . . . In the generation in which the scion of David will come . . . The God-fearing and the pious shall cease and truth shall be abandoned and the generation will be brazen-faced liked a dog . . .” (comp. Luke 18:8; 1 Tim. 4:1, 2; 2 Tim. 3:1-5). Many pages could be filled with quotations on Messiah’s coming. The Daily Prayer Book also expresses the Messianic hope. E.g., the Eighteen Benedictions of the Morning Service in the synagogue contain the prayer, “And to Jerusalem, the city, return in mercy, and dwell therein as thou hast spoken; rebuild it soon in our days as an everlasting building, and speedily set up therein the throne of David. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who rebuildest Jerusalem. Speedily cause the offspring of David, thy servant, to flourish, and lift up his glory by thy divine help because we wait for thy salvation all the day.” ’61-77
Joel 2:28—Applies To Millennial Age.
Question (1957)—When St. Peter in Acts 2:16-21 quoted from Joel 2:28-32, did he not thus apply the entire prophecy to the Gospel Age? And should not the term “all flesh” in Joel 2:28 accordingly be understood as referring to the Gentile brethren gathered out of all nations during the Gospel Age?
Answer.—The context indicates that St. Peter’s quotation of Joel 2:28-32 was not for the purpose of interpreting it, nor to show to what Age or Ages it applied, but to refute the accusation of drunkenness made by the Jews against him and his fellow Apostles (Acts 2:13). He denied that the phenomenon of their speaking in other languages (vs. 4-11) was drunkenness (v. 15), and asserted that it was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, not a sinful, but a Divinely approved thing, prophesied by Joel (v. 16). He then proceeded to quote the entire section of Joel’s prophecy treating of the outpouring of the Spirit, but made no interpretation or application of the passage further than to use it to prove that the Jews were witnesses, not of drunkenness, but of the outpouring of the Spirit.
If St. Peter’s purpose in making the quotation and his use of it are kept in mind, we will at once recognize that there is nothing in his use of it to limit its application to the Gospel Age. Similarly, if in the Millennial Age the outpouring of the Spirit would be misrepresented as drunkenness, the passage could with equal propriety be quoted to disprove the charge; but such a use of it would not limit its application to the Millennium. St. Peter did with this passage what in perfect propriety has been done with other passages—use them to refute an error or to prove a truth, without giving the full application of the passage. The comparatively few Gentile brethren gathered out during the Gospel Age would fall short of being “all flesh.” ’57-47; ’84-39
Joel 2:28—Sons, Daughters, Ancients, Youthfuls.
Question (1957)—In Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17, who are referred to by the expressions, “your sons and your daughters,” “your old men” and “your young men”?
Answer.—We understand that the word “your” in these expressions refers to The Christ, Head and Body, the Lamb and the Lamb’s Wife, who “in the regeneration [when the world will be regenerated, born again from the dead by restitution, resurrection process] when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory [during His Thousand-year Reign]” (Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:30), with His Bride at His side (Rev. 3:21), will as the Second Adam (Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:45-47) and the Second Eve (2 Cor. 11:2, 3) regenerate the human race, offering “whosoever will” the water of life freely (Rev. 22:17). Then The Christ’s restitution sons (the stronger, more developed ones—loyal believing, but not consecrated, Jews and Gentiles) and restitution daughters (the weaker, less developed ones—unbelieving Gentiles and unbelieving Jews) will prophesy—declare the Truth to others as they receive it as a result of their Pentecostal blessing. These sons and daughters are again referred to in Isa. 60:4, where the daughters are described as the Christ’s nursing babes, comparatively undeveloped and immature, not ready yet for strong meat, but needing the milk of the Word (comp. Heb. 5:12-14; 1 Pet. 2:2).
We understand the “old men” to represent the Ancient Worthies (from Abel to John the Baptist), many of whom are described in Heb. 11, where it is stated of them (v. 38): “of whom the world was not worthy.” They are called ancients, old men and elders (zekenium, Isa. 24:23; Psa. 107:32; Joel 2:28; presbyteroi, Heb. 11:2); they are referred to in Psa. 45:16: “Instead of thy [The Christ’s] fathers [they] shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes [chief ones] in all the earth.” Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, etc., did not have life, in the real sense of the word: they were all members of the death-condemned race. We are told in John 3:36 that “he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life.” Hence, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and all the prophets, and all the rest of the world, must receive everlasting life through a true and loyal faith in Christ, or not at all; for outside of Him is condemnation only. Hence it is true, that when in God’s due time they shall be awakened from death (John 5:28, 29), it will be by the great Life-giver, Jesus, who will be their Everlasting Father, or Life-giver (Isa. 9:6). During Christ’s Thousand-year Reign these Ancient Worthies will be His special representatives in God’s kingdom on earth (Luke 13:28), which, honor, though great, will not be equal to that of sharing the heavenly existence as parts of “the kingdom of heaven” class (Matt. 11:11).
We understand the “young men” (literally, youthfuls) to represent the Youthful Worthies, those who consecrate themselves to God and His service in the end of the Gospel Age after the High calling, “the heavenly calling” (Heb. 3:1), closes. They, like the Ancient Worthies, are not begotten of the Spirit, hence are not new creatures in the Body of Christ; but they will be associated with the Ancient Worthies in the earthly phase of the Kingdom, for in the larger sense Abraham’s seed is not only as the stars of the heaven, but also as the sand which is upon the sea shore (Gen. 22:17). They will be associated with the Ancient Worthies as “princes [not kings] who will rule in judgment”—truth and righteousness (Isa. 32:1). While after the outpouring of the Spirit for all flesh the Ancient Worthies will “dream dreams” (be given new and inspired deeper revelations as a part of “another book of life”—Rev. 20:12), the Youthful Worthies will then “see visions” (will be given inspired, less deep representations, clarifying and elaborating for themselves and the people the teachings of the Old and New Testaments, as well as of “another book of life”). Jacob’s prophetic dream at Bethel (Gen. 28:10-19) nicely illustrates the communication to come between the two phases of the Kingdom; and Christ identifies Himself as pictured in the ladder, the Mediator between God and man (John 1:51; 1 Tim. 2:5).
For a brief exposition of Joel 1 and 2, and further information and Scriptures on the classes described in Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17, including the Youthful Worthies, please see our book entitled, The Millennium, pp. 31-52, or our No. 188 issue (ask for a free copy). ’57-47; ’84-39
John 14:1-3—Please Explain.
Question (1987)—I have recently sustained a severe bereavement in the death of a loved one, and am much exercised regarding the future—where our loved ones will be and whether we may hope to know them beyond the grave. In this connection please consider John 14:1-3.
Answer.—The Scriptural citation referred to reads: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself.” All creation is the heavenly Father’s house, and upon different planes of being He has in it creatures made in His own likeness, called sons; and for each of these a provision has been made suited to their conditions, nature, etc. (1) The angelic sons of God have heavenly conditions provided for them. (2) When Adam was created an earthly son of God provision was made for him and his family of human sons. The fact that these human sons of God fell into sin and under sentence of death will not hinder the ultimate outworking of the Divine plan, to have a household of human sons, for God has provided a ransom for all, ultimately will grant eternal life to “all those who obey him,” when “they hear his voice.” The provision for these is the human nature in an earthly paradise.
Our Lord was not speaking to nor of the natural man when He used the words of this text; He was speaking to the New Creatures, begotten through the Word of Truth to heavenly promises. Thus far no provisions existed for a family of sons on the Divine plane: our Lord Jesus was the first born to this condition, and it is only through His merit and by His assisting grace that His Church can become meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. Our Lord’s departure was to this end—that He might not only present the ransom sacrifice on their behalf, but also that He might, as their Head, succor and help them to the eternal city, and might correct and discipline them, and thus prepare them for the new conditions, as well as by His sacrifice make possible their attainment to those new conditions, either in the Little Flock or in the Great Company. ’87-31
Judah—The Identity Of Judah And Israel.
Question (1978)—Many now are saying that Israel is not of the tribe of Judah, but a mongrel race usurping the rights of real Israel, and trespassers in the Holy Land. Can this be true?
Answer.—There is a remarkable prophecy, that we see being fulfilled by various religious groups, including the Anglo-Israelites (see our (Anglo-Israelism booklet), in their claims to be Israel. The Prophet said, “One shall say, I am the LORD’S; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel” (Isa. 44:5).
They have been misled into denouncing the real Jews as not being of the tribes of Israel. This course will finally bring upon them curses instead of blessings. God’s promise to the real fleshly seed of Abraham is, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee” (Gen. 12:3).
All we need to do is read the Bible and believe what it says, in order to settle this question. We are plainly told that during the final phase of “Jacob’s trouble,” in which remnants of nations surrounding Israel go up against Jerusalem and are destroyed, Jewish people from both “Israel” (the ten tribes) and “Judah” (the two tribes) will be there, for God promised to return them to their promised land from “all nations whither I have scattered them” (Jer. 30:1-11). After Jacob’s Trouble,” the Jewish people under the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34) will “serve the LORD their God, and David [their Beloved, their Messiah], their king, whom I [God] will raise up unto them” (v. 9; see also v. 10).
The Prophet Joel says: “ I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my lands” (Joel 3:1, 2).
Furthermore, the Prophet Zechariah says: “Be-hold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem” (Zech. 12:2). Then in Ezek. 38 and 39 the Prophet mentions repeatedly that it is “my people of Israel” in their land and at Jerusalem (Zech. 14:2) that various nations come against for plunder.
We have pity for all of these deceived people who will be fighting against Jerusalem. Of them the Prophet says: “Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth” (Zech. 14:12). ’78-15
Judgment Day—And The Millennium.
Question (1967)—What proofs have we that the Judgment Day and the Millennium are one and the same period?
Answer.—2 Tim. 4:1 is a Scripture that indicates clearly that the Judgment Day and the Millennium are one and the same period: “Jesus Christ, who shall judge [separate as the result of, and according to their use of, an opportunity to gain life (Matt. 25:32)] the quick [the living; new creatures as such and the fallen angels, none of whom have been death sentenced] and the dead [the death-condemned non-elect children of Adam, regardless of whether they are in the death process or in the death state] at [during] his appearing [epiphaneia; the period in which He separates the new creatures into the Little Flock and the Great Company, and the fallen angels into the repentant ones and the non-repentant ones] and [during] his kingdom [the Millennium, when He will separate all the non-elect humans—those who never entered the death state and those who will have been awakened out of it—to His right or to His left, according to whether they prove faithful or unfaithful under their Millennial opportunities of gaining life (Matt. 25:1-46].” Thus this passage demonstrates when the final trial for life will be granted to all the nonelect, i.e., during the Millennium. ’67-87
Question (1959)—What is meant by being justified, and by actual justification?
Answer.—To be justified implies either one of two thoughts: (a) to be declared or proven to be right; (b) to be made right. The Scriptures use this expression mainly in sense (b). From this standpoint, the primary thought in the word justification is (1) justice, or a standard of right; (2) that something is out of accord with that standard—not up to its requirements; and (3) the bringing of the person or thing that is deficient up to the proper or just standard. An illustration of this would be a pair of balances or scales; on the one side a weight would represent Justice; on the other side something representing human obedience would be found of equal weight, to balance Justice. This is more or less deficient in all, and the deficiency requires to be compensated for by having something added to it, in order to its justification or balancing.
Applying this illustration more particularly, we see Adam as originally created, perfect, in the image of God (Gen. 1:26, 27, 29)—in harmony with God and obedient to Him. This was his right, proper, just condition, in which he should have continued. But through sin he came under God’s sentence and was straightway rejected, as being no longer up to the Divine standard. Since then his posterity, “born in sin and shapen in iniquity,” have come forth to life on a still lower plane than that on which he, their father, was after he fell—still further from the standard required by Divine Justice. “There is not a just man upon the earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not,” “for all have sinned, and have come short of the glory of God” (Eccles. 7:20; Rom. 3:23). None of Adam’s race can measure up to the standard of perfection; therefore all by nature stand condemned before the bar of Divine Justice—all need justification before God, if they are ever to come back into covenant relationship and fellowship with Him in everlasting life. None of them could by any means make up the deficiency for, or give a ransom for his brother (Psa. 49:7), because none of them has any surplus of merit or weight or virtue to apply to another—in fact, none has enough of them even for himself. God in His great love (John 3:16, 17) sent His Son into the world—“the Word was made flesh” (John 1:14)—that He, being “holy harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:27), might as the man Christ Jesus gave Himself as a ransom-price, a corresponding price (1 Tim. 2:6), for Adam and the entire race in his loins when he sinned, that He might be the propitiation [satisfaction—that which makes up the deficiencies before Divine Justice] for our [the Church’s] sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). He said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven . . . and the bread that I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).
Because of Jesus’ obedience unto death in doing the Father’s will, God highly exalted Him (Phil. 2:8, 9) to His own right hand in heaven (Heb. 1:5). Additionally, however, Jesus by His obedience under the Law, which stated that “the man which doeth those things shall live by them” (Lev. 18:5; Rom. 10:5), gained the right to life as a human being, with all of its conjoined life-rights. This human right to life and life-rights, not being needed by our Lord in His heavenly condition, are to be used by Him on behalf of all mankind, for justifying or making them right, in “the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21), which, according to this passage, follow Jesus’ Second Coming.
When, during those times of restitution, the period of Christ’s Millennial reign of righteousness on earth, Satan is fully bound that he can deceive the nations no more, God will pour out His Spirit for all flesh (Joel 2:28); then “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isa. 40:5); then the Seed of Abraham will bless all the families of the earth with a knowledge of the Truth and with an opportunity for restitution to the image of God as represented in father Adam—and fortified by the experiences of the fall and of the recovery from it.
This restitution work of bringing back mankind to perfection will be the work of actual justification--actually making them right or perfect. Actual justification will start when the earthly phase of the Kingdom is set up, and will progress step by step until “every man” (Heb. 2:9) will have the fullest opportunity for return to all that was lost through father Adam—with added experiences that will be helpful. Thank God for that period of actual justification—actual making right—actual bringing of the willing and obedient of the race from imperfection to perfection—physically, mentally, morally and religiously. ’59-14
Question (1959)—What is meant by being justified by faith?
Answer.—It means being made right with God through faith. Prior to the actual justification of whosoever will of mankind, God selects, or elects, a faith class, those who are willing to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7), to trust Him even where they cannot trace Him. Thus “Abraham believed God, and it [his faith] was accounted to him for righteousness” (Gal. 3:6). Others in Old Testament times, the rest of the Ancient Worthies (note e.g., Heb. 11), also had their faith counted to them for righteousness. However, Abraham and the rest of the Ancient Worthies could not attain the condition of full, complete justification—they could not become sons of God (John 1:12), because Jesus had not yet come and provided the merit of His ransom-sacrifice to make it possible—though through their faith they were brought into a condition of friendship with God (Jas. 2:25).
God agrees that those who during the Gospel Age, though “children of wrath, even as others” (Eph. 2:3), hear the message of His grace and mercy through Christ, and come so into accord with the wisdom from above that they will confess their wrong condition, and, believing the Lord’s message, will surrender themselves to Him, repenting of sin, and so far as possible make restitution for their wrong—these, instead of returning to actual human perfection, He will reckon as having their blemishes covered with Christ’s merit, imputed to them. In dealing with them He will reckon them, though still actually imperfect, as being just or right, justifying them through their faith. Thus, they will have a full, complete justification by faith. This reckoned justification, or justification by faith, holds good so long as the faith continues and is backed up by endeavors to do God’s will. If faith and obedience cease, the justification ceases to be imputed. “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1).
Thus the consecrated faith class of the Gospel Age enjoys fellowship with God through Christ and His merit imputed to them for their justification before God; and thus they can work out their own salvation with fear and trembling and make their calling and election sure (Phil 2:12; 2 Pet. 1:10) to a higher salvation and resurrection and greater opportunities than will be offered to mankind in general (Heb. 3:1; Rev. 20:6; Eph. 1:18, 19; 2:4-8). As the seed of Abraham and: “heirs [with Christ] according to the promise” (Gal. 3:16, 29), they are to bless all the nations of the earth-the non-elect, the non-faith class, in giving them a Millennial opportunity for salvation and helping the willing and obedient in their restitution to perfection in the paradise to be formed on earth.
Those Gospel-Age believers in Jesus who have not consecrated, who have not surrendered themselves fully to doing God’s will instead of their own will, do not have this full, complete justification by faith that the consecrated have received. Rather, their justification, like that of the Ancient Worthies, is a tentative justification. If they do not use it for the purpose for which it was given to them--i.e., that they like the Worthies might go on to consecration—they will eventually lose it—they will receive this grace of God in vain (2 Cor. 6:2). ’59-15
Justification—Millennial By Faith.
Question (1975)—Will any of the Gentiles be justified by faith in Christ during the Millennial Age?
Answer.—We understand that justification by faith in Christ applies to the present Age and to our salvation—-the elect’s salvation—which is called “salvation by faith” in contradistinction to the salvation that was offered to the Jews in their Age, the salvation by works, under the Law Covenant, and also in contrast with the salvation through the Messiah that will be offered to the Jews and to the world in the next Age, which will be a salvation by works under the New (Law) Covenant.
In other words, this Gospel Age is the only Age in which faith in Christ takes the place of perfection. It is true, of course, that no Jew could have been justified before God by keeping the Law Covenant unless he had believed in God; and it is equally true that no one will be justified under the New Covenant arrangement except he believe in God and Christ and is in harmony with the arrangements that will then be open to all. However, this will not make it a faith-salvation, a salvation by faith, but a salvation by works—the works of the Law.
The works of the Law were unable to save the Jews during the Jewish dispensation because they could not keep the Law, and because there was no arrangement made through an efficient mediator to lift them up out of their degradation, but this arrangement has been made future for all Israel and all who will come in under this arrangement in the Millennial Age. They will be restitution (Acts 3:19-21) be enabled to perform the works. They will be helped through Christ out of their degradation.
So we read Rev. 20:12, 13 that the sea will give up her dead, the grave will give up the dead that are in it, and they shall all stand before the great white throne during the Millennial Age, and shall be judged out of the things written in the books; according to their works shall they then be judged. The distinctive statement made regarding us now is that it is not according to our works that we are judged, but according to our faith.
So, then, there will be faith and works in the Millennial Age, and there are faith and works in this Gospel Age; but the faith of the Millennial Age will be less meritorious in proportion because everything will be very plain and easy to believe, and hence it will not be the faith that will be specially rewarded then, but the works. In this Age faith takes the most important place (1 John 5:4), and we are not rewarded according to our works mainly, but according to our faith, which, however, “without works is dead” (James 2:20, 26).
Faith and works apply to both Ages, but in the one Age it is the faith that is rewarded, and in the other the works will be rewarded. In the one, faith is the standard or test of whether one is worthy or unworthy and in the other works will be the standard or test of whether one is worthy or unworthy of eternal life.
Gal. 3:8 seems very particularly to show that the reference is to the Gentiles who are justified through faith in? Christ and not by works; therefore, we understand that his text applies to the Gospel Age in the sense that God foresaw that during this Gospel Age He would justify certain of the Gentiles through faith in Christ just as He intended also to justify some of the Jews through faith in Christ. The Gentiles never were under the Law of works, but are accepted under the Gospel arrangements, by faith in Christ as Savior. ’75-62
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