An appeal to Jehovah’s Witnesses

To answer this question, Jesus said, “‘Break down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ Therefore the Jews said: ‘This temple was built in forty-six years and will you raise it up in three days? But he was talking about the temple of his body. When, though, he was raised up from the dead, his disciples called to mind that he used to say this; and they believed the Scripture and the saying that Jesus said.’” (John 2:19-22 NWT 1984 Edition)

Despite this simple statement by Jesus himself, that the ‘temple of his body’ would be raised, the Watchtower Society insists that Jesus’ body was not raised from the dead. Instead, they say he was raised as an ‘invisible spirit creature’. 

This passage presents a serious problem for the Watchtower Society as is evidenced in the fact that it is very difficult to find an explanation for John 2:19-22 in all the volumes of their published literature. In addition to this, when asked, ‘What happened to the dead body of Jesus?’, they reply that ‘they do not know.’ It has been suggested by the Watchtower Organization that ‘possibly his body was dissolved into gases’ or ‘preserved as a grand memorial’ of Jesus’ loving sacrifice.

The Watchtower derides the idea that Jesus’ body could have been raised, as is demonstrated in the following quotes, published in the W.T. 73 6/1, pg. 350:

“Could you believe that Jesus Christ, the majestic King of the new world, made higher than all other creatures, would remain in a body of flesh? He would be inferior to a spirit, and far too limited to accomplish the marvelous things required of such a king, among them the destroying of the mighty spirit person, Satan the Devil.”

“A human body requires earthly elements for its continued existence. It is made for the earth and must subsist upon the things produced from the earth.”

However, is this a fair representation of resurrection to immortality? If a body is resurrected from the dead – do the Scriptures say that it remains mortal? We will examine this in more depth.

King David’s Prophecy

King David prophesied of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, in the Psalms. Psalm 16:9 says, “Therefore my heart does rejoice…Also, my flesh [‘basar’ – ‘flesh, by extension body’] will reside in security. For you will not leave my soul in Sheol. You will not allow your loyal one to see the pit.” (NWT 1984 Edition)

“So my heart rejoices, my whole being is joyful. And I reside in security. For you will not leave me in the Grave. You will not allow your loyal one to see the pit.” (NWT 2013 Edition)

We know that this Psalm is an actual prophecy about Jesus Christ, as the Apostle Peter quotes this passage in Acts 2:25-27, saying, “On this account my heart became cheerful and my tongue rejoiced greatly. Moreover even my flesh will reside in hope; because you will not leave my soul in Hades neither will you allow your loyal one to see corruption.” (NWT 1984 Edition)

“On this account my heart became cheerful and my tongue rejoiced greatly. And I will reside in hope; because you will not leave me in the Grave, nor will you allow your loyal one to see corruption.” (NWT 2013 Edition)

Both David and the Apostle Peter plainly state that the reason why Jesus’ flesh could ‘reside in hope’. Peter says, “because you will not leave me in the Grave.” David says, “For you will not leave me in the Grave.”

This prophecy is so clear, even the Watchtower admits that David believed and predicted a bodily resurrection of Jesus. 

A Spiritual Body?

Believing that Jesus was resurrected bodily, does not negate that he was ‘put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.’ 1 Peter 3:18. It does not contradict 1 Corinthians 15:44, “It is sown a physical body; it is raised up a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one.” Because as it says in 1 Corinthians 15:53, “For this which is corruptible must PUT ON incorruption, and this which is mortal must PUT ON immortality.”

1 Corinthians 15 is presented by the Watchtower as absolute proof that this is describing a resurrection whereby the actual body is not raised, but remains dead. They say that the individual is raised as an ‘invisible spirit creature’ based on certain statements made by the Apostle Paul in verses 40, 44 and 50: “And there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies; but the glory of the heavenly bodies is one sort, and that of the earthly bodies is a different sort… It is sown a physical body; it is raised up a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one… But I tell you this, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, nor does corruption inherit incorruption.”

Yet, the Apostle Paul has based his arguments in 1 Corinthians 15 upon the inspired words of two Hebrew prophets, Isaiah and Hosea, both of which are cross-referenced in the NWT. After finishing his description, the Apostle Paul makes this statement in verse 54, “But when this which is corruptible puts on incorruption and this which is mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: ‘Death is swallowed up forever.’”

Isaiah’s Prophecy

What is this ‘saying’, that was written, which Paul refers to here? It is this direct quote from Isaiah 25:8, which the Watchtower acknowledges in their own cross-reference. Isaiah 25:8 reads, “He will swallow up death forever, and the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will wipe away the tears from all faces….” 

Paul himself, in quoting Isaiah 25:8, says that the resurrection that will take place is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. When Isaiah penned these words, was he foretelling a non-bodily resurrection from the dead? There is no doubt that when Isaiah says, “He will swallow up death forever”, he himself believed that those who were privileged to experience resurrection to immortality would no longer face death. Isaiah’s prophecy continues on to the next chapter, where he says in Isaiah 26:19, “Your dead will live. My corpses will rise up. Awake and shout joyfully, you residents in the dust! For your dew is as the dew of the morning, and the earth will let those powerless in death come to life.” Isaiah is describing bodily resurrection where ‘death is swallowed up forever’, precisely what Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 15. 

Isaiah 26:19 demonstrates that a ‘corpse’ will rise up and be changed. The ‘corpse’ will ‘PUT on immortality’ as it says in 1 Corinthians 15:53. This is language describing an actual change to the body, not the disposal of the body. Paul says the same thing in Romans 8:11, “If, now, the spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will ALSO make YOUR MORTAL BODIES alive through his spirit that resides in you.”

What Happens to Mortal Bodies?

What is the outcome, according to Paul, of the ‘mortal bodies’ of the believers in Rome? Are they disposed of, or changed? Romans 8:11 clearly says that your mortal bodies will be made alive.

Notice how the Watchtower translates verse 23 of Romans 8. “Not only that… while we are earnestly waiting for adoption as sons, the release from our bodies by ransom.” (NWT 2013)

Such a translation conveys the idea that the adopted sons will be separated from the body as ‘invisible spirit creatures’. This would put Romans 8:11, quoted above, in opposition to verse 23, and thus these verses would contradict one another. 

In the Watchtower’s own Kingdom Interlinear, the word-for-word Greek reads, “the release by ransom OF the body”, which doesn’t contradict Romans 8:11. Indeed, when granted immortality, the body is ‘released’ from the bondage of sin that it now experiences. The fact the Watchtower finds it necessary in Romans 8:23 to choose the word ‘from’, as opposed to ‘of’, demonstrates they sense the weakness of their argument.

Other translations appropriately translate verse 23, in support of verse 11, as follows:

“as we wait for our bodies to be set free” Jerusalem Bible

“we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” NRSV

“we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” KJV

“the redemption of our bodies” NIV

“the redemption of our body” NKJV

As we’ve seen, Paul quotes Isaiah 25:8, “then the saying that is written will take place: Death is swallowed up forever,” as the basis of his treatise concerning resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. Isaiah then goes on to predict a bodily resurrection in Isaiah 26:19. Paul assures us in Romans 8:11, that “the one who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will ALSO make your mortal bodies alive through his spirit…” So why would this same Apostle say something completely different in Romans 8:23? 

The majority of other Bible translations support the prophecy of Isaiah, by saying the the ‘body’ will be ‘redeemed’, not ‘disposed of’ – as the NWT attempts to convey in its unique translation of this passage.

Why was Jesus Not Recognized in Luke 24?

Yet, the Watchtower will say that Jesus was not recognized by his disciples after he was raised. This, they will say, is proof that he was not raised bodily. Instead, the Watchtower claims that Jesus appeared, or ‘materialized’ in different bodies, simply to show that he was alive. An oft-cited example, is Luke 24:15-16, “Now as they were conversing and discussing these things, Jesus himself approached and began walking with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” (NWT 2013)

In verse 16 of this chapter we are told why they did not recognize him – “but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” We are not told that they didn’t recognize him because he was in a different body. Yet, if Jesus had ‘materialized’ in the same body would this not have been the best proof of his resurrection? The fact that the disciples’ eyes were ‘kept’ from recognizing him, shows that God had a reason for doing this. 

So, we see that 1 Corinthians 15 is in perfect harmony with John 2:19-22, Romans 8:11, 23, Psalm 16:9-10, and Isaiah 26:19. The language of 1 Corinthians 15:50 describes a change to the body, not the disposal of the body. Both David and Isaiah were inspired prophets. The Watchtower admits that they both believed in a bodily resurrection. They knew nothing of a so-called ‘heavenly resurrection’ as described by the Watchtower society. Were these inspired prophets of the Old Testament in error? 

Further demonstrating that the resurrected Jesus is not an ‘invisible spirit creature’ that ‘sacrificed his perfect human life’ are the prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures concerning his identity. 

He is the seed of Abraham –  Genesis 13:15 and Galatians 3:16

He is the offspring of David –  2 Samuel 7:12 and Acts 2:30

He is the lion of the tribe of Judah – Genesis 49:9-10; Revelation 5:5

After his resurrection, Jesus’ identity did not change. How for example is an ‘invisible spirit creature’ – namely, Michael the Archangel, a descendant of Abraham? Or of the tribe of Judah? Or the offspring of David?

Nowhere in the New Testament, do the Christian writers change the identity of Jesus their Messiah. What has changed – is his nature. Romans 6:9: “For we know that Christ , now that he has been raised up from the dead, dies no more; death is no longer master over him.” Jesus’ body has been clothed with immortality. He now partakes of God’s nature.

We appeal to all Jehovah’s witnesses to examine the arguments presented here and especially the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:5-6:  “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus. Who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all…” At the very end of Revelation the identity of Jesus is still the same as it has always has been.  In chapter 22:16, the immortal Jesus says of himself, “I, Jesus, sent my angel to bear witness to you about these things for the congregations. I am the root and the offspring of David and the bright morning star.” 

We welcome all comments and questions,

Norm Smith

After attending the Kingdom Hall for about two years I was baptized by the Jehovah’s Witnesses on July 9, 1983. I was convinced, as most Witnesses are, that I was part of the only true religion on earth. I was in the antitypical “ark” of Noah, Jehovah’s visible Organization on earth. I believed that my membership in this organization was the only way to be saved.

I was very happy to be of the “great crowd of other sheep” because I had no desire to “go to heaven” – the destiny of the “144,000.” I looked forward to life on Paradise Earth. I was single, 25 years old, wanting to marry and have a family, which led me to seeing the first inconsistency in Watchtower teaching. Being part of the “great crowd” my destiny was to receive “human perfection” on earth. This is the hope of all who are of the “other sheep.” But what if I died or I was killed? Of course, I would be resurrected to human perfection, but I could not marry! This would mean that I and all those who are raised to “earthly life” would have to remain celibate forever while all those who lived through Armageddon and did not die, could marry, and if already married, could remain married and have children. I was perplexed as to why this was the case, since all who received earthly life would be in the exact same physical condition. I remember thinking, “Lazarus was raised from the dead and there was nothing to stop him from carrying on his normal functions. If he wasn’t already married, Jesus certainly never told him he could not marry.” I found this especially puzzling since we were told that all the resurrections in the Bible “pictured the earthly resurrection!”

Looking back, I can now see that the Witness’ teaching had forced them into a corner. Let me explain: the “other sheep” do not receive immortality as do the “144,000.” They will continue as flesh and blood humans who attain human perfection. The Watchtower cannot apply Jesus’ words in Luke 20:34-36 to the 144,000 because they do not believe the angels are immortal. Luke 20:34-36 says, “The children of this system of things marry and are given in marriage, but those who have been counted worthy of gaining that system of things and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. In fact, neither can they die anymore, for they are God’s children by being children of the resurrection.” Applying Luke 20 to the 144,000 would then require the Watchtower to teach that the angels are immortal. This they could not do – so their only choice was to apply it to the “other sheep,” but in doing so, they created this contradiction. I was heartbroken. I did not want to be celibate while many of my family and friends would be enjoying family life in human perfection. Weren’t Adam and Eve told to “be fruitful and become many and fill the earth”? I did not question the Scripture; it was the application that did not make sense. My constant prayer was that I would not be killed or die of some disease before Armageddon.

Despite this, I did not question the validity of the Watchtower. I was confident that it was some mistake and that a correct understanding would come in the future. Where else could I go? All the churches that I knew about, taught the immortality of the soul, and going to heaven at death, or burning in “hellfire” – all teachings that I could never accept.

The next thing that puzzled me was what Jesus states about his apostles in Luke 22:28-30, “However, you are the ones who have stuck with me in my trials; and I make a covenant with you, just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom, and sit on thrones to judge the 12 tribes of Israel.” Such a promise to me, clearly contradicted what the Watchtower organization was teaching:

•The nation of Israel no longer plays any role in God’s plan.

•Among Jehovah’s Witnesses only the literal number of 144,000 are designated as spiritual Israel.

•The great crowd of other sheep are not spiritual Jews, they are Gentiles who attach themselves to the 144,000. Zechariah 8:23 is used to support this view.

•In the Kingdom, the 144,000 – “spiritual Israel” – will rule over the “great crowd” – people of the “nations” (Zech. 8:23) as kings and priests.

After reading the Luke 22 passage above, I sought out the Watchtower position on the identity of the “twelve tribes of Israel” in Luke 22:30. To my surprise, they actually were teaching that these 12 tribes of Israel are the “nations” of Zechariah 8:23 – the “great crowd” of “other sheep”! In Watchtower theology, the “other sheep” are not spiritual Jews. Luke 22 forces them to teach two contradictory teachings at the same time because they have to identify the 12 tribes apart from Spiritual Israel, because the Apostles will be judging them! Once natural Israel is eliminated from their understanding as having a part in God’s plan, they have no choice but to state that it is the other sheep who then become the 12 tribes of Israel in Luke 22. They are actually teaching two opposite teachings simultaneously – because they say that the other sheep are not spiritual Israel or Jews of any kind, but in Luke 22 they say these 12 tribes are the other sheep!

Although I was very puzzled, I still did not question or doubt the validity of the organization because in my mind there was nowhere else to go. I was still convinced that I was “in the truth” and the Watchtower Society were devoted servants of God and that in time through their intense study of the word in Brooklyn, they would clear up the inconsistencies that I saw.

I continued actively in the “door to door service.” One day I was asked to explain Matthew 8:11, “But I tell you that many from east and west will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of the heavens;” As soon as I read it, I could hardly speak. I had never noticed this passage before. At the time I was convinced that there were “two classes” of believers. The 144,000 would go to heaven and receive the “heavenly kingdom” while all the rest would remain on earth. “All the rest” included Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I could not escape the clear words of Jesus himself that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would be in the “kingdom of the heavens.” I told the man that I would come back with an explanation.

When I researched the Watchtower understanding of this passage, it was so unbelievable that I was too embarrassed to give the man the explanation. I felt it couldn’t possibly be true. The explanation given was that Abraham is “symbolic of Jehovah God,” Isaac is “symbolic of Jesus Christ,” and Jacob is “symbolic of the 144,000.” Additionally, what proved to me that this explanation was incorrect is the parallel statement in Luke 13:28 where Jesus adds “all the prophets” to his statement about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Who did all the prophets “symbolize”?

From then on, I started to read other translations of the Bible, as well as reading the Bible without the Watchtower Publications to guide me. My existing belief, at that point, was that all the faithful men and women in the Old Testament had the earthly hope and that they didn’t even know that there was such a thing as the “heavenly hope.” I was stunned when I read Hebrews 11:16 in the King James Version. Since most Witnesses have the KJV, it’s quite normal to see a Witness read this version. In referring to the faithful believers in the Old Testament, including Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham, the passage reads, “But now they desire a better country, that is an heavenly…” How is that possible? I wondered. How could all these men and women of faith “desire” a “heavenly” country if this was not yet “revealed to them”? I turned immediately to my New World Translation which reads, “But now they are reaching out for a better [place], that is one belonging to heaven…”

This discovery in Hebrews 11 was very devastating, as every Bible I could find, read “heavenly” or “celestial” in this passage. The most devastating of all was the Watchtower’s own Kingdom Interlinear. The word-for-word English beneath the Greek reads, “Now but of better(one) they are reaching out for, this is of heavenly one…” I wondered why they would paraphrase the Greek word to read “one belonging to heaven” in Hebrews 11:16 and translate it as “heavenly” in the very next chapter -12:22?

I questioned the inconsistency. Was it possible that the Watchtower could not have their members read a verse that so thoroughly contradicted their fundamental beliefs?

For the very first time, I was deeply troubled. In fact, I was shattered, for my mental safety-net was gone. The man I had been talking to in my door-to-door service did not believe in the immortality of the soul, going to heaven when you die, hellfire or the trinity. He believed that the Kingdom of God would be on earth, all of which I believed and still believe to be Bible truths.

The living nightmare began. I was now married to a Witness, I had a stepson, and I had persuaded my mother to become a Witness. My brother in-law was a Witness and my two nephews were Witnesses. I knew what leaving meant – total shunning from family and friends.

As each year passed, the nightmare deepened as I continued to see more and more from reading the Bible on my own and realizing that my belief-structure was probably wrong. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I confided in my doctor who put me on antidepressants. I could not confide in any Witnesses because they would have immediately gone to the Elders and told them I was doubting. I wanted the freedom to sort this out myself.

I eventually sent a lengthy letter to the Brooklyn headquarters. In the letter I pleaded for help. I told them that I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and had been put on medications by my doctor. I did not mention the letter to anyone in my family or to anyone at my Kingdom Hall. About two months later a Witness Elder from my congregation phoned and told me that he had been asked to deal with my issues. Brooklyn had contacted the Elders as opposed to addressing my letter personally.

The Elder came to my house and pointed out all the “good works” the “organization was doing that no other organization was doing. To him this was “proof that Jehovah’s Witnesses had the Truth.” To put things in perspective I asked him to read Matthew 6:1-4, “Take care not to practice your righteousness in front of men to be noticed by them; otherwise you will have no reward with your Father who is in the heavens. So when you make gifts of mercy, do not blow a trumpet ahead of you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be glorified by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.” I also asked him to read Matthew 23:15, “…you travel over sea and dry land to make one proselyte…” After he read these two passages he was very upset with me. I pointed out to him that I was not trying to be disrespectful but the fact of the matter is that no one should boast. Secondly, all the preaching in the world does not make us right, as the inspired Word clearly says. Traveling over sea and dry land to make one proselyte is not proof that we have the Truth! I also pointed out to him that the contents of my letter was what I hoped to be discussing. He refused.

Over 30 years later I still remember word-for-word what he told me. “If you cannot see that the Watchtower Organization has the truth,” he said, “there is nothing more I can do for you and if you even attempt to approach the other Elders over this matter there will be trouble.” He then picked up his briefcase, stood up and walked out the door. My wife looked at me and said, “Your attitude stinks.”

I was broken. Only those who have experienced a similar situation regardless of the particular religion they belong to, can understand. I asked for a fish and was handed a serpent. I asked for a loaf and was handed a stone. (Matthew 7:9-10)

I suppressed my doubts for a few more years and said nothing to anyone. Eventually, we moved to another province “where the need was great” hoping that the Watchtower would receive “new light” and that everything would be ok. One evening speaking from the platform I happened to quote Romans 2:21, “Do you, however, the one teaching someone else, not teach yourself?…” How could I possibly go “door to door” and tell others to question the teachings of their church and act upon that questioning, when I was unwilling to do the same?

This time there was no turning back. I still had the hope that the Watchtower was right but I was not going to allow men to be masters of my faith. How ironic it was that I concluded that this was the reality – God was not the master of my faith but men. I was not the only Witness in this position.

This new harsh reality was brought home in an agonizing way when a young Witness friend of mine committed suicide by jumping into the Atlantic Ocean. I had played table tennis together with this young man in my basement. He was a very handsome, God-fearing, clean-cut fellow. He was just 23 years old. All the times we had played together neither of us could trust the other enough to confide our doubts. I had no excuse. I had become a Witness as an adult. No one had forced me to join. Rodney, on the other hand, was raised a Witness. His whole family were Witnesses; his entire circle of friends were Witnesses. For Witness youth there is no way out. Even if you do not get baptized and leave, you are still shunned as a “disapproved associate.” Rodney was not a rebellious young man; he was a “regular pioneer” putting in 90 hours per month. He had nowhere to turn but the Atlantic Ocean. When he killed himself the thoughts expressed among the congregation were that he was “selfish” and “couldn’t face the difficulties of being a true Christian.” I found out later from neighbours that Rodney had actually confided in some of his school friends about his religious doubts. I found it ironic that he could not go to his own Brothers and Sisters when he was experiencing such traumatic difficulties in his life.

I began to wonder what place do Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30 have for “Jehovah’s visible Organization”? The “faithful and discreet slave class?” The “anointed remnant?” “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you…”

For Witnesses “there is no way to leave” without experiencing the harsh consequences of doing so. The “reason” is irrelevant. If you leave to become a criminal or leave to pursue a path that you feel is a path of true righteousness, the treatment you experience is the same.

Rodney’s suicide will haunt me all the days of my life. What if we both had had the freedom to confide in one another? He might still be alive today.

In April 1991, I left the Watchtower religion. On April 28th I was baptized into Christ. My wife divorced me and my stepson hasn’t spoken to me in 27 years. My mother read the Bible from cover to cover without the Watchtower publications and three years later she left the Organization and was baptized into Christ. The ordeal almost killed her. She was 83 years old. On June 18, 2017, she fell asleep at 100 years of age awaiting the resurrection.

I know that there are thousands of Witnesses, young and old, that are living the nightmare that I lived. I also know that there is tremendous guilt for those who do not have the courage to do a thorough research out of fear that their suspicions will be confirmed. For those who do realize that the Watchtower Society is not “Jehovah’s visible Organization” there is a lot of guilt for not leaving. For many, they think that suicide is the only way out. Who knows how many are so confused that they do not know what to believe? Too many so-called “counter-cult-ministries” run by Ex-Witnesses are more concerned with propounding their own doctrines as opposed to helping Witnesses and Ex-Witnesses to think for themselves.

For the first time in my life I had actual faith. I had a firm belief that God and Christ would actually guide me. Is it frightening at first? Yes! Most importantly, it is a true promise from God and Christ that they will help you to find your way. “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you; for everyone asking receives, and everyone seeking finds, and to everyone knocking, it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7) The very passages that I assured others with, now assures me, “Indeed, a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” (Matthew 10:36) “… Do not forsake me and or leave me, my God of Salvation. Even if my own father and mother abandon me, Jehovah himself will take me in.” Psalm 27:9,10.

It’s one thing to be able to quote a Scripture, it’s another to be able to live it.

In the 27 years since I’ve left the Watchtower Organization I have found freedom like never before. I can actually have discussions with those of my own congregation and disagree without fear that I’ll be cast out for doubting or questioning. It gives me so much joy to take out my Bible and read it for myself – whole chapters – all the way through. I feel so much relief that I no longer need to tally up my ‘good deeds’ in a monthly time card. My nagging questions are finally answered. I believe that I have found the Truth and the freedom to keep researching whenever necessary. In the end I am only concerned with whether or not I believe and teach the Truth according to God. It’s God’s Truth that I want to believe and teach to others – not the teachings of men.

If anyone wishes to speak with me I would be delighted to do so.

Norman Smith

Was Jesus born with the same nature that Adam enjoyed before the fall?

First and foremost, our only motivation for investigating Watchtower teachings is due to the deep measure of love and respect we have towards Jehovah’s Witnesses. We admire their zeal and dedication to our Heavenly Father. However,  we are compelled to encourage them to personally examine their unique beliefs carefully with the Bible. We will use the New World Translation in our investigations, as it is generally an accurate translation and familiar to those to whom we make this appeal.

The “Ransom Sacrifice”

The Watchtower teaching about the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ states that Jesus had to be like Adam in the following way: “He had a perfect mind and a perfect body. He would never get sick, would never grow old, and would never die.” The Watchtower goes on to say, “The ransom that had to be paid was another perfect life. This is why it is called a ‘corresponding ransom.’ (1 Timothy 2:6) The ransom had to have the same value as the life that Adam lost.” What Can the Bible Teach Us? Pages 53 & 54.

The Watchtower claims that Jesus’ ‘perfect mind’ and his ‘perfect body’ was “maintained pure through tests of integrity, with which to repurchase mankind, emancipate them. Hebrews 2:14,15.” Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 2, page 736. According to their teaching, Jesus’ perfect life was thus ‘maintained’ and upon his death, he sacrificed this ‘perfect human life,’ returning to heaven as the invisible spirit creature – Michael the Archangel. On page 142, of You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, we read, “Christ gave up his body as a sacrifice. He could never take it back and become a man again.”

In the Watchtower’s view, Jesus could not be raised bodily from the grave because that would make void his sacrifice. He would be taking back the ‘price paid.’ They say that what Jesus ‘sacrificed’ is gone forever – his perfect human life.’ This is the single biggest argument presented by Jehovah’s Witnesses in arguing against a bodily resurrection. In their view, Jesus couldn’t take his body back because he ‘sacrificed it.’

Was Jesus Mortal?

The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus was sinless, in that he “…had done no wrong and there was no deception in his mouth,” Isaiah 53:9. He committed no sin, nor was deception found in his mouth,” 1 Peter 2 :22.  It is clear from the Scriptures that Jesus never sinned.

However, the Watchtower goes beyond the simple teaching that Jesus never sinned, to state that Jesus had a “perfect body and would never have died.” To say that Jesus would never have died, overlooks Biblical passages that state otherwise. Paul, the apostle, says emphatically; “For we know that Christ, now that he has been raised up from the dead, dies no more; death is no longer MASTER over him.” (Romans 6:9)

In what way was DEATH, Christ’s Master?

Jesus himself made a clear statement about his ‘life,’ saying, “No man takes it away from me, but I surrender it on my own initiative.” John 10:18.

How then was death, Christ’s Master? The answer to this is seen in the statement of Peter in Acts 13:34, “And the fact He resurrected him from the dead never to RETURN to corruption…” Can anyone ‘return’ to a place or state they have never been? Once Jesus was raised from the dead and given immortality, death was no longer his Master. Jesus then, will never ‘return to corruption.’ Peter’s words in Acts 13, indicate that Jesus will never again be subject to the mortal, dying nature that all humans possess.

‘Likeness of Sinful Flesh’

That Jesus was born with our nature is seen in Romans 8:3, “…God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh…” If God sent His Son in the ‘likeness of sinful flesh,’ how can this possibly correspond to Adam’s ‘perfect flesh?’ If indeed the Watchtower’s teachings are correct on this matter, the Bible should say that Jesus was sent in the likeness of ‘perfect flesh’ due to the ‘corresponding’ nature of the ‘ransom.’

Instead, Galatians 4:4 tells us that Jesus was ‘born of a woman,’ which would imply that Jesus was born with a ‘mortal body.’ Job 14:1-2 says, “Man born of woman, is short lived and filled with trouble… who can produce someone clean from someone unclean? No one can!”

That Jesus shared our mortal nature is further demonstrated by Paul as he continues in Romans 8:11, “If now, the spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised up Christ from the dead will ALSO make your mortal bodies alive through his spirit that resides in you.”

The NWT correctly keeps the word ‘ALSO’ in their translation of Romans 8:11, even though this passage makes the connection between Jesus’ ‘body’ and the ‘mortal bodies’ of the believers in Rome.  Paul is referring back to what he said in verse 3 of the same chapter. God sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.’ Jesus did not just look like sinful flesh – physically he was identical to us. To maintain that Jesus had a ‘perfect body’ is without Scriptural proof, and proven untrue by clear Bible statements.

For example, “Consequently, he had to become like his brothers in all respects, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest…” (Hebrews 2:17). Do Christ’s brothers have a ‘perfect mind and perfect body’? We have already seen from Romans 8:3 that Christ was sent “in the likeness of sinful flesh.” Further confirmation of this is seen in Hebrews 2:14, “Therefore, since the young children are sharers of blood and flesh, he also similarly shared in the same things...”

‘Made Perfect’

As stated earlier, Watchtower belief is that Christ’s ‘perfect life’ was “maintained pure through tests of integrity…” Insight of the Scriptures, pg. 736.  Is this what the Bible teaches?

Hebrews 4:15 tells us, “For we have a high priest not one who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who has been tested [tempted] in all respects like ourselves, but without sin.” The same Greek word used here for ‘tested’ is rendered by the NWT as ‘tempted’ in Matthew 4:1. How was a man who had a ‘perfect mind, perfect body, and someone who would ‘never get sick or die’, tempted ‘like we are in all respects’?

A ‘corresponding’ ransom, as defined by the Watchtower, would demand that Jesus be ‘tempted in all points’ like ‘PERFECT ADAM’, not imperfect us.  We are not able to find any Bible passages that even hint at the idea that Jesus’ ‘perfect human body’ was ‘maintained’ by his faithfulness.

The Watchtower points out that the terms ‘immortal soul’ and ‘trinity’ are not Scriptural language, indicating that these teachings are un-biblical. The terms ‘perfect human body’ and perfect human life’ are also never used in Scripture to describe Jesus.

We do read though, of how Jesus was made perfect in Hebrews 2:10, “For it was fitting for the one for whose sake all things are, and through whom all things are, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Chief Agent of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

The Hebrews 2:10 passage is clear. Jesus’ ‘perfection’ was through a process, demonstrating that there was a time when he was not ‘perfect’. His perfection was a moral perfection obtained through trial, not a perfection ‘maintained’ from birth.

Once this perfection was ‘obtained’ through suffering, Jesus was then able to offer a ‘perfect sacrifice.’ Jesus ‘overcame’ the very nature we all bear (John 16:33). Dying sinless, God raised him from the dead “no more to return to corruption” (Acts 13:34), and now death is no longer his ‘Master.’ (Romans 6:9)

Jesus Sacrificed his ‘Life’

If, as the the Watchtower claims, Jesus sacrificed his ‘perfect human life’ and could never take his body back, due to it being ‘sacrificed,’ then surely Jesus would have given such an explanation. However, consider the way in which Jesus described his sacrifice:

Jesus said, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:15)

“This is why the Father loves me, because I surrender my life so that I may receive it again.” (John 10:17)

To surrender one’s life is surely the same as to sacrifice one’s life.

Hebrews 9:26 clearly states that Jesus came “to do away with sin through the sacrifice of himself.”

If we use the Watchtower’s reasoning, that a sacrifice can never be regained, then this would require that Jesus remain dead because he sacrificed himself. Yet, we all are in agreement that Jesus was resurrected and lives at God’s right hand in heaven. Therefore, if the sacrifice of himself, and his life, could be regained through resurrection, so could his body.

In a future article, we will investigate whether Jesus was raised an invisible spirit creature or whether he was raised bodily and given immortality.

If anyone wishes to speak with me I would be delighted to do so.

Norman Smith

We only have one objective for investigating this very important Watchtower teaching – and that is to reach out in a caring way to many sincere, devoted believers, who love the Truth and deserve every opportunity to find it.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that a literal 144,000 believers will go to heaven and become immortal to rule over the other unnumbered class who are considered the ‘subjects’ of the Kingdom Age. These subjects, according to the Watchtower, live on earth and do not receive immortality but eventually over time, attain to ‘human perfection.’ This belief is based on a handful of passages that we will consider in this investigation, such as John 10:16; Luke 12:32; Matthew 11:11; Revelation 7:1-10.

The Watchtower freely admits that this teaching of the 144,000 is not taught anywhere in the Hebrew Scriptures. Jehovah’s Witnesses say this teaching was first realised by Jesus’ disciples at Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. The disciples were still expecting Jesus to reign on earth in Acts chapter 1:6. Therefore anyone who died prior to Pentecost would have no idea of what is termed the ‘Heavenly Hope.’ Up until the Pentecost of Acts 2, the hope of every believer was to live on earth forever.

The official position many years ago was that the calling of this ‘little flock of 144,000’ began at Pentecost and ended in 1935 – which is when the full number had been chosen. The only way for someone else to be part of the 144,000 would be if one of the chosen became unfaithful and then someone else would have to take their place.

In the 1950’s the Watchtower taught that there was about 12,000 of the 144,000 left. We are now in the year 2019. No doubt changes to this number have been made to accommodate this unexpected passage of time.

Special Terms Applying Only to the 144,000

In Watchtower theology only the 144,000 have these scriptural terms applied to them:

  • born again,
  • born of God,
  • born from above,
  • spiritual Israel,
  • anointed,
  • born of the spirit,
  • and Christ is only a mediator for the 144,000.

The Watchtower teaches that only the 144,000 are ‘Abraham’s seed’ (Galatians 3:29 – ‘heirs with reference to a promise’). Only the 144,000 have this ‘heavenly hope’ and prior to Pentecost in Acts 2, it was an unknown belief for anyone except for Christ. Therefore, the ‘new covenant’ is only for the 144,000, which is why they are the only Witnesses who can partake of the bread and wine.

Can this complex teaching withstand a series of Biblical passages that would indicate otherwise? Additionally, are the passages used to support this teaching clear enough to teach it in the first place?

We will consider the actual number 144,000 last, because it stands as a literal number on the basis of two things:

  • Is 144,000 supported as a literal number by the rest of Scripture?
  • Is a literal 144,000 supported by the description recorded in the book of Revelation itself?

Hebrews 11:6 – the ‘Heavenly’ Homeland

There are several Scriptures which demonstrate there are not two separate classes of believers. Hebrews 11:16, describes the hope of many faithful men and women who died prior to Pentecost in Acts 2. According to Watchtower teaching, the O.T. faithful had no idea that there would be a ‘Heavenly Kingdom’ as they lived before the revelation of the ‘Heavenly Hope’ at Pentecost.

Here are the various ways Hebrews 11:16 is translated:

“…but in fact they were longing for a better homeland, their heavenly homeland…” Jerusalem Bible

“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one…” NRSV

“But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland…” NLT

“But now they desire a better country, that is an heavenly…” KJV

“Instead they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one…” NIV

These versions make it very clear that all the faithful prior to Pentecost were hoping for a ‘heavenly’ country or homeland.

This same passage in the Watchtower’s NWT reads,

“But now they are reaching out for a better place, that is, one belonging to heaven.”

The NWT is the only Bible translation that chooses to paraphrase the Greek word ‘epouranious’ as ‘one belonging to heaven’ – as opposed to simply translating it as ‘heavenly.’ Why would they do so, especially in light of the introduction to the 1984 Large Print Edition of the NWT? This introduction says,

Paraphrases of the Scriptures are not offered. Rather, an effort has been made to give as literal a translation as possible where the modern-English idiom allows and where a literal rendition does not, by any awkwardness, hide the thought… Uniformity of rendering has been maintained by assigning one meaning to each major word and by holding to that meaning as far as the context permits.”(Page 7, paragraph 3 and 4)

Is there a reason to ‘hide the thought’ in Hebrews 11:16?

The thought is certainly not hidden in the Watchtower’s Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures. The word-for-word English found under the Greek text for Hebrews 11:16 reads, “now but of better (one) they are reaching out for, this is of heavenly (one)…”

In the very next chapter – Hebrews 12:22 – the NWT translates the same word ‘epouranious’ as ‘heavenly.’ “But you have approached Mount Zion and a city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem.

The author of “Truth in Translation,” Jason David BeDuhn, speaks very highly of the NWT saying it is the most reliable of the nine Bible translations he compared. BeDuhn is a competent Scholar and his conclusions are generally accepted. However, BeDuhn also concluded that all the translations he examined were bias toward their theological views, with the NWT being less inconsistent than the other eight. For BeDuhn, “inconsistency in translation is often an indicator of bias,” (Pg 108).

As seen in Hebrews 11:16, the NWT has been inconsistent in translating this verse. Due to their unique ‘Two Class’ belief, a literal translation would be very confusing to their members.

MATTHEW 8:11 – the O.T. Faithful in the ‘Kingdom of the Heavens’

The next passage, is Matthew 8:11, which reads, “But I tell you that many from east and west will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of the heavens.

For the Watchtower it is not possible that Abraham and Isaac and Jacob will be in the ‘Kingdom of the heavens’ as they believe the patriarchs have an ‘Earthly Hope.’ Thus Jesus’ statement here, presents for them a major problem. The Watchtower explanation of Matthew 8:11 is that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are ‘symbolic’ of ‘Jehovah God, Jesus Christ and the 144,000.’ Yet the parallel statement in Luke 13:28, 29, referenced in the NWT margin, adds ‘all the prophets’. “There is where your weeping and the gnashing of your teeth will be, when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown outside. Furthermore, people will come from east and west…”

The Watchtower’s own cross-reference to Luke 13:28, 29 shows that they accept it as a parallel statement. If Matthew 8:11 is symbolic – then Luke 13:28 must be as well. So then, ‘all the prophets’ must be symbolic. Who does the prophet Jeremiah symbolise? Or Ezekiel? Or Elisha? This becomes quite complicated and is not explained in Watchtower writings. However, if Luke 13:28 is literal, then it proves Matthew’s account to be literal as well.

Reading Matthew 8:11 and Luke 13:28 literally, we have the simple, clear teaching that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets will be together in the heavenly Kingdom, with all other believers – one hope – one class.

One class of believers is very clearly endorsed in the book of Galatians. Paul makes this statement in Galatians 3:29, “Moreover, if you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s offspring, heirs with reference to a promise.Yet, according to Watchtower teaching, the Christians in Galatia are going to heaven to be part of the ‘Heavenly Kingdom’, of which only the literal number of 144,000 will partake. These 144,000 have been chosen ‘from Pentecost and onward.’ They believe that NO ONE prior to Pentecost in Acts 2 has the ‘hope’ of ‘going to heaven.’ All the faithful who died prior to this event, receive what they term ‘the Earthly Hope’, thus separating believers into two ‘classes’ with two separate ‘hopes’ – the Heavenly Hope and the Earthly Hope.

GALATIANS 4:28 – Children of the Promise

Notice Paul’s words to the Galatian believers in Galatians 4:28. “Now you, brothers, are children of the promise the same as Isaac was.”

According to Paul, Isaac receives the same promise as the believers in Galatia. Isaac is not separated into another class who receives a hope different from the Galatian believers.

Consider also Paul’s words in Galatians 3:9, “So those who adhere to faith are being blessed together with Abraham, who had faith.” The Gentile Galatians are viewed as Abraham’s seed due to their faith. They are blessed WITH Abraham, not as a separate class with a different destiny. It doesn’t make sense that Abraham’s descendants would receive a greater promise than their father.

Notice the consistency of the three passages we have considered in Galatians 4 and Hebrews 11, with Jesus’ words in Matthew 8:11. These passages are very clear; there are not two classes of believers and there is only one hope. However, in all fairness, let’s take a look at the most oft-quoted passages the Watchtower uses in support of their teaching. We’ll begin with John 10:16.

JOHN 10:16 – The Other Sheep

“And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those too I must bring in, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that since Jesus references ‘other sheep’ there must be two classes of believers, with two separate hopes.

However, when Jesus spoke about these ‘other sheep’, the Gentiles had not yet been included into the Jewish fold. In Ephesians 2:15-16, Paul talks about the inclusion of the Gentiles and the union of the two groups INTO ONE. “By means of his flesh he abolished the enmity, the Law of commandments consisting in decrees, in order to make the two groups in union with himself into one new man and to make peace, and to reconcile fully both peoples in one body to God through the torture stake, because he had killed off the enmity by means of himself.” This is a perfect explanation for John 10:16 because it accurately describes what Jesus said – they will become ‘one flock.’

The Watchtower teaching is contradictory within itself. Within the organisation there are still TWO CLASSES – they have not been made into one. That is why only the 144,000 partake of bread and wine. Yet, Jesus said they would all become ‘ONE FLOCK,” one shepherd.’ If Jesus’ words are taken verbatim as he said, all Jehovah’s Witnesses would partake of the bread and wine. Instead we see that the ‘other sheep’ which Jesus referenced, are simply the Gentiles, who are now included in the one flock.

LUKE 12:32 – The ‘Little Flock’

In Luke 12:32, Jesus assured his disciples, “Have no fear, little flock, for your Father has approved of giving you the Kingdom.”

The emphasis that the Watchtower places here is on the term, ‘little flock,’ in contrast to the “great crowd’ in Revelation 7:9. The inference is that the ‘little flock’ is fewer in number than the ‘great crowd.’ It would appear from these terms that the Watchtower has a relatively sound argument. But context and an overall knowledge of Scripture has to be the final arbitrator in understanding each statement.

The overall teaching of Scripture is that very few will be saved, in contrast to the many who are not. For example, in Israel as a nation, very few were faithful in comparison to the unfaithful. Jesus himself, talked about two roads – one leading to life and one to destruction. The one leading to life had very few that found it, the one leading to destruction had many. (Matthew 7:13-14). When taken in context, the ‘little flock’ of Luke 12 is consistent with the overall teaching of Scripture, that very few find the road to eternal life.

However, depending on the context, a different emphasis may be used. Context is vital. We can see this from Acts 6:7 where we read, “and a GREAT CROWD of priests began to be obedient to the faith.” (NWT 1984 Large-Print Edition) How many priests were converted? Was a ‘great crowd’ considered hundreds of priests, or hundreds of thousands?

It is very interesting that the 2013 Revised Edition of the NWT translates this verse as ‘large crowd’ as opposed to ‘great crowd.’ This is done despite the fact that the Greek word in Acts 6:7 and Revelation 7:9 is the same (‘polus’). It is doubtful that the Watchtower would have changed this word, creating inconsistency, had they not been sufficiently challenged on this very point. The term ‘great crowd’ is one of the most common terms in Witness vocabulary.

Once again the Watchtower has gone against their own policy – “an effort has been made to give as literal a translation as possible where the modern-English idiom allows and where a literal rendition does not, by any awkwardness, hide the thought… Uniformity of rendering has been maintained by assigning one meaning to each major word and by holding to that meaning as far as the context permits.” (NWT 1984 Large-Print Edition, page 7, paragraph 3 and 4) The change to ‘large crowd’ from ‘great crowd’ only confirms that this is one of the most challenged doctrines within the organisation, enough so as to warrant a resort to inconsistency.

Luke 12:32 then provides no proof that there are two classes, based upon the terms ‘little flock’ and ‘great crowd.’ If it did, were there more than 144,000 priests who converted in Acts 6:7?

MATTHEW 11:11 – A Lesser Person

Matthew 11:11 reads, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women, there has not been raised up anyone greater than John the Baptist, but a lesser person in the Kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is.”

Watchtower teaching is that only those with the ‘Heavenly Hope’ receive immortality in the ‘Kingdom of the heavens’, while those with the ‘Earthly Hope’ remain on earth and receive ‘human perfection’- a state which they liken to Adam and Eve before the fall – very good – but not immortal. Therefore, they say, those who receive immortality are ‘greater’ than those who remain on earth. Matthew 11:11 then, for Jehovah’s Witnesses, is a contrast between the two ‘hopes.’ Matthew 11:11 certainly does teach a contrast, but what is the contrast between? Is it between two different ‘hopes’ of believers, or between our mortal life now compared to immortal life in the world to come?

Luke 20:34-36 describes the superior state of immortality, saying, “The children of this system of things marry and are given in marriage, but those who have been counted worthy of gaining that system of things and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. In fact, neither can they die anymore, for they are like the angels, and they are God’s children by being children of the resurrection.

Jesus himself was “made a little lower than angels…” Hebrews 2:7. This all changed of course when he was raised from the dead and given immortality.

The question then, is what is the contrast, described in Matthew 11:11, in regards to John the Baptist? Is it a contrast between an alleged ‘earthly hope’ and a ‘heavenly hope’, or is it a contrast between life in our present age and life in the future when the ‘Kingdom of the heavens’ is established as described by Christ in Luke 20:34-36?

Jesus states that “among those born of women,” there are none that are “greater than John.” Was it necessary for Jesus to state that John was born of a woman? We know from Job, the outcome of everyone that is born from woman:

“Man, born of a woman, is short-lived and filled with trouble. He comes up like a blossom and then withers away;Job 14:1-2

Regardless of who we are, we are all in need of redemption – just as John the Baptist was. Jesus’ statement about John was referring to his present state. “But a lesser person in the Kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is.This statement is in the PRESENT TENSE. The ‘Kingdom of the heavens’ was still future at this time – even the Watchtower wouldn’t claim it was established until 1914. If the Watchtower’s understanding of this verse is correct, then that would be indicated by the tenses in the Scripture. Jesus would have referred to John in the future tense, saying, “But a lesser person in the Kingdom of the heavens is greater than HE WILL BE.”

Matthew 11:11, then, is a contrast Jesus is making between the superior state of those enjoying the future hope of immortality, as opposed to the mortal state that we all share in this life – however great we may be.

ROMANS 8:16 – to be ‘Born Again’

So what is the Biblical criteria to be one of the 144,000? Within Watchtower theology only the 144,000 know that they are of the Heavenly class. It is often stated that if you have to question if you are one of the Heavenly Class, then you are not one of them. For the Watchtower, the criteria is a personal ‘experience’. The standard passage quoted to support this view, is Romans 8:16, “The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children.” This statement is taken to show that there is a direct communication from God to the individual.

Has the Watchtower accurately presented the Biblical criteria for someone to be part of this Heavenly class? The criteria that God has revealed is seen in 1 John 5:1:

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born from God, and everyone who loves the one who caused to be born loves him who has been born from that one.”

The criteria according to John is ‘belief’ and not an experience. It’s available for ‘everyone.’ To demonstrate that it is truly for ‘everyone’ consider Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus.

The exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus is in John 3:1-10. In verse 3, Jesus says to Nicodemus, “Most truly I say to you, unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Nicodemus had no idea of what Jesus is speaking about – but how could he, if the ‘heavenly hope’ had not yet been revealed? Despite this, Jesus goes on to rebuke Nicodemus, saying, “Are you a teacher of Israel and yet do not know these things?”

Why would Jesus rebuke anyone for something that is impossible for them to know? This exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus contradicts any idea that there was a future revelation with regard to those who are born again, because this exchange took place about 3 years before the Pentecost of Acts 2. If it wasn’t until Pentecost that the new ‘revelation’ was given to them, then why would Jesus have rebuked Nicodemus 3 years earlier, for not understanding what it meant to be ‘born again’?

What is the ‘born again’ experience that is spoken of in the Scriptures? It is the experience that we read about in 1 John 5:1, Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born from God.That Nicodemus could be rightfully rebuked by Jesus is seen in Acts 2:29-31, “Men, brothers, it is permissible to speak with freeness of speech to you about the family head David, that he died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath that he would seat one of his offspring on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he forsaken in the Grave nor did his flesh see corruption.”

Very simply, David believed in the coming Messiah and even predicted his death and resurrection. David predicted this through the Holy Spirit. He was a man after God’s own heart, born of the spirit. The criteria of ‘belief’ is clearly provided in the Hebrew Scriptures itself.

Consider another example, Moses, who chose “to be mistreated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin, because he considered the reproach of THE CHRIST to be riches greater than the treasures of Egypt…” (Hebrews 11:24-26)

In John 8:56, Jesus states, “Abraham your father rejoiced greatly at the prospect of seeing my day, and he saw it and rejoiced.” With the eye of faith, Abraham looked forward to the coming of Messiah because the ‘good news’ was preached to him (Galatians 3:8-9). His faith or belief was such, that he could be termed “the father of us all.” (Romans 4:16)

Jeremiah, the prophet, speaking to wayward Israel, in Jeremiah 4:4, “Circumcise yourselves to Jehovah, and remove the foreskins of your hearts, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that my wrath may not blaze up like a fire and burn with no one to extinguish it, because of your evil deeds.” Jeremiah is telling them that they have to be spiritually-minded, instead of minding the flesh… the same concept as in Romans chapter 8, where the Watchtower has plucked verse 16 out of context. Paul’s whole argument in Romans 8 is about our conduct:

Verse 5-7, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit, on the things of the spirit. For setting the mind on the flesh means death, but setting the mind on the spirit means life and peace; because setting the mind on the flesh means enmity with God, for it is not in subjection to the law of God, nor, in fact, can it be.”

“For if you LIVE according to the flesh you are sure to die; but if you put the practices of the body to death by the spirit, you will live.” (Romans 8:13)

Romans 8:16, then, is not about an ‘experience.’ It has everything to do with an individual putting aside his fleshly desires in order for his thinking to correspond with the thinking of God. “Therefore, become imitators of God, as beloved children, and go on walking in love, just as the Christ also loved us and gave himself for us… ” (Ephesians 5:1) The subject matter in Ephesians 5:1-6 is very similar to Romans 8.

Therefore, to be ‘born from above’ or ‘born of the spirit’ is nothing more than to allow God’s Word to transform us to be spiritually-minded, as opposed to ‘fleshly-minded.’ Every true believer is required to become spiritually-minded. As Jesus explained to Nicodemus, in John 3:6, “What has been born from the flesh is flesh, and what has been born from the spirit is spirit.” We are all born from flesh naturally. To have any hope of changing from the natural way of thinking, we must be born of the spirit. Jesus also tells Nicodemus in John 3:16, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only–begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”

Salvation for anyone, regardless of the time-period in which they lived is based upon their exercising faith in the Messiah, whether they looked forward in faith as Abraham, David, Moses, etc, or whether they lived in Jesus’ own day, or whether like today, we look back in belief through the Biblical record.

REVELATION 7:1-9 – The 144,000

Is 144,000 a literal number? Thus far, Scripture has provided no evidence that there are two classes of believers, one ruling over the other. Can it be demonstrated from Revelation itself, that the number 144,000 is not a literal number, but symbolic?

The whole nature of Revelation is one of symbolism. If the 144,000 was a literal number, then the 12 tribes of Israel referred to in chapter 7 would have to be literal as well. How can we take the number 144,000 as literal when every other aspect of this description from verse one to verse eight, is symbolic?

The fact that Revelation 7:1-8 describes John hearing the number 144,000 and then after that, John sees a ‘great crowd,’ does not necessarily mean that they are two separate groups of people, but viewed from a different perspective. The symbolic 144,000 are more likely the ‘great crowd’ – which no man can literally number.

For example, the Watchtower themselves teach that the 24 elders in Revelation 4:4, are representative of the 144,000. The 24 elders they do not take as a literal number at all. So, in like manner, the 144,000 could very well represent the ‘great crowd’ out of all tribes, peoples and nations. (Revelation 5:9-10)

This very point can be seen in the description of the ‘great crowd’ of verse 9, who come from ‘all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.’ This exact description is given of the 144,000 in Revelation 5:9-10. “And they sing a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, for you were slaughtered and with your blood you bought people for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.”

The Watchtower teaches that this group in Revelation 5, is the 144,000 because they are made ‘to be a kingdom.’ According to the Watchtower’s beliefs, the 144,000 in Revelation 5, comes from ‘every tribe and tongue and people and nation’, which is exactly where the ‘great crowd’ of Revelation 7:9 is drawn from.

In Galatians 6:15-16, the Gentiles are referred to as the “Israel of God”:

“For neither is circumcision anything nor is uncircumcision, but a new creation is. As for all those who walk orderly by this rule of conduct, peace and mercy be upon them, yes, upon the Israel of God.”

There is far more evidence to suggest that the 144,000 is a symbolic number to represent the vast number of all believers from every ‘tribe and tongue and people and nation’ and all those from ‘east and west’ who ‘will come and recline with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens.’ (Matthew 8:11)

Abraham’s Offspring

It can be demonstrated from the Bible and by using the Watchtower’s own beliefs, that it is impossible for the 144,000 to be a literal number.

According to Watchtower teaching, ‘Abraham’s offspring’ in Galatians 3:29 is the 144,000. They become Abraham’s ‘offspring’ by virtue of their ‘belonging to Christ’ (vs. 29). In Galatians 3:16 we read that the primary seed or offspring of Abraham is Christ – “‘and to your offspring,’ in the sense of one, who is Christ.”

Gentile believers become Abraham’s seed by being ‘baptised into Christ’ (vs. 27). The key point here is that Paul is not providing some new revelation but quoting from Genesis. Galatians 3:16 is a quote from Genesis 13:15 which is actually cross-referenced in the NWT Bible. Notice a detail provided in Genesis 13:16, about Abraham’s seed – a detail which cannot be explained by the Watchtower. “And I will make your offspring like the dust particles of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust particles of the earth, then your offspring could be counted.”

Anyone can count to 144,000. The seed of Genesis 13:16 cannot be counted, thus corresponding to the ‘great crowd’ ‘which no man can number’ of Revelation 7:9, and demonstrating that 144,000 is a symbolic number.

If anyone wishes to speak with me I would be delighted to do so.

Norman Smith