Reviewing the February 2017 Watchtower Study Edition part 1

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11 thoughts on “Reviewing the February 2017 Watchtower Study Edition part 1

  1. Eastwardtohelel says:

    Well Michael, great job as usual. I’m working on a response to this, but it is going to take a second and I want to finish part 2 as well. There is a thought that crossed my mind while listening to you about the two class system they teach. It is interesting that these verses keep talking about making a whole out of many, but I will save that for later. When I hear the term being a friend to Jehovah I am intrigued where they are getting this. Every time we see scripture talk about someone being a “friend” to Jehovah, it is always in reference to the Sons of God themselves, i.e. Israel or the followers of God. Never is it in reference to a people who are not followers or some “fringe” group just outside of Israel. You are either a follower of God or you are not. No where in scripture is there a fence rider. Just to make my case, I believe these people (luke warm) and are spewed out(Rev 3:16). Furthermore I personally believe and interpret Romans 8:5-9 to teach that if the Spirit does not dwell in you you cannot please Jehovah. Here is why this is important. If I remember correctly from studying with the JWs is that to have the Spirit dwell in you is to be born again, and the ONLY people that are born again are the anointed class or the 144000. Here is my question. The great white crowd is not born again and does not posses the spirit, but how can they please god or be his friend when you can only please him when you posses the spirit? Something seems off here.

    So to reiterate, how and where do the great white crowd become friends of Jehovah when the only friends to Jehovah referenced in scripture are the very Sons of God themselves and no one else?Personally, I think it makes more sense that the anointed are chosen FROM the Sons of God to fill a specific role.More specifically to replace the council of God, but I will get into my later post in understanding what took place in the Old Testament and what had to be fixed with humanity to reclaim what was God’s.

    Help me out if I have missed something here and I are flawed in my thinking. Anyways, take care Michael and God bless you and the work you do.

    1. Mike Felker says:

      Eastward,

      Thanks for your comments! You made a lot of good points, and it would be interesting to see how JW’s would respond to that. Of course, all JW’s will say that holy spirit is necessary for their lives and are certainly guided by it. But as i’m sure you’d agree, the Bible doesn’t differentiate between the holy spirit’s activity for two classes of Christians.

      1. Eastwardtohelel says:

        Well, first I believe they will pull a plethora of verses going back and forth between the Holy Spirit, being filled with the spirit, or the spirit dwelling in you. If you are not very well read up it can be very overwhelming, and most just give up than go through all the verses and references to see how well it all goes together. One thing you hit on that I believe is key is “differentiate” and how do we do it.

        Before we even look at verses Im reminded of questions of logic when I look at the reasons for the two class system. I see this word games played all the time on Christian theology so I believe that it is good in reverse. First we hear about how the righteous will inherit the earth, but which ones and who goes where? Those on earth admitted into the Kingdom of God/Heaven and those admitted into heaven are BOTH righteous. Second just because you inherit something does not mean you have to live or dwell there. So who is going where? In Revelation both the great crowd and the 144000 are before the throne. The last I’ll finish with what I was hinting to in my earlier post that is both born again and the great crowd are called “friends”. Again where is the differentiation because the line sure seems to be blurred in my opinion.

        Last and I’ll wrap it up, is this whole born again business. Sadly this is a term that even most Christians barely even grasp the gravity of. If we stick to just the New Testament we can get a true sense of what was intended but still loose the importance of what is meant. One needs to follow the Old Testament and what happened to get a better understanding of what is meant. It might surprise JW’s and Christians that this was not a new term or a New Testament term. This was a term used during and before Christ time by the Hebrew people. When a proselyte fully converted to ancient or proto-Judaism, they were said to have been “born again”. This is still taught today even. A new convert to Judaism is considered just as Jew as a Jew with a pedigree going back a thousand years. This is because it is a spiritual adoption into Gods family. Nothing more, nothing less. This is exactly the language that is used in the New Testament as well, case closed.

        Well Im going to sign off for now. Take care and God bless.

  2. Eastwardtohelel says:

    (Admin. note, because of formatting when it comes references I am using (*) with the letter inside to represent references from within the text.)

    To delve into this subject a little deeper I would like to examine the reasoning that forms Jehovah’s Witnesses beliefs laid out in the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society’s (WTB&TS) publication Reasoning from the Scriptures (RftS). This may shed some extra light on why they believe what they do and where they are getting it from.

    On page 77 of RftS we come to a section about “Only persons who have been “born again,” thus becoming God’s sons, can share in the heavenly Kingdom” (WTB&TS). Further RftS says that John 1:12,13 teaches that it was the Jews who can only be born again. To illustrate this the reader is told “(As many as did receive him” does not mean all humans who have put faith in Christ. Notice who is being referred to, as indicated by verse 11 [“his own people,” the Jews]. The same privilege has been extended to others of mankind, but only to a little flock.”)” (WTB&TS,77)

    First John is not even talking to a Jewish crowd, it is a narrative to open his Gospel, and nowhere does it imply that only the Jews could be born again. As a matter of fact, grammatically all kinds of assumptions or interpretations could be drawn from the insert from RftS. Was it the supposed crowd, the Jewish reader, or any reader for that matter. Were there only Jews in the supposed crowd? What about proselytes and gentiles who put faith in him. I believe there is a little deception or very bad theology being presented here. John 1:11 does state “his own people”, but if we read John1:11 in its entirety we will see something completely different. John1:11 reads, “He came to his own home, but his own people did not accept him.” (NWT,1426). Then verse 12 continues, “However, to all who did receive him, he gave authority to become God’s children,(*e) because they were exercising faith in his name.(*f)” (NWT, 1426). This seems to imply at the very least that his own people, the Jews, did not receive him but there were others that did, Jews and Gentiles. Notice in John1:12 it says, “to all who did who did receive him,” (NWT,1426). Interestingly enough the WTB&TS still quote the 1984 version of the NWT, “However, as many as did receive him.” Yet the NWT 2013 version says, “to ALL”. (More than likely the WTB&TS has yet to simply update RftS, but still worth of notation.) John 1:12-13 doesn’t say to any Jew or to all Jews and I find it deeply disturbing that the WTB&TS use verse 11 in the manner that they do. In conclusion I ask, is the WTB&TS trying to reason with us by saying the ones who are going to be born again are “his own people” that rejected him(Yahshua)?

    For better context, we are going to look at the NWT’s own references and John chapter 1.
    In John chapter 1, we are led to believe that the speaker is talking to only the Jews when the author is narrating up to verse 15. Verse 12 seems to indicate that anyone could receive this authority, not just a Jew. If we back up to verse 7 we see that “the light” was meant so that “people of all sorts might believe through him.” (NWT,1426). So, the context in John Ch.1 1-14 talks about men, the world, peoples of all sorts and only in 11 do we see Yahshua’s people referenced, which would make verse 12 see a bit odd in contrast to the previous verse if it was only about the Jews since they were just referenced in a negative way. I want to return to RftS p. 77. When the WTB&TS quotes John 1:12,13, they add in, “The same privilege has been extended to others of mankind, but only to a “little flock.” (WTB&TS,77). Where does John 1:12-13 say this in anyway. It doesn’t. John 1:12 says “all who did receive him”, not the Jews and some other gentiles. This is just inserted and we the reader or listener are supposed to accept it. Let us test it though and see if the same standard the WTB&TS put on John 1:12-13 stands up to the little flock teaching.

    In Luke 12:32 we are told that the little flock are only those 144,000 that are born again. If we apply the same standard Reasoning from the Scriptures puts on John1:12-13 will we see what the little flock is? In RftS we are told to pay attention to who the audience is, so let us look at who the audience is in Luke 12:32. In Luke Ch. 12 Yahshua is talking to a Jewish crowd and his disciples. Where are the gentiles? How is it that John1:12-13 is said to only refer to Jews or Israel when there is no audience present, and the little flock are the others of mankind, but when we read Luke 12:32, Yahshua is only talking to a Jewish audience and that is somehow supposed to be gentiles or “the others” he is referring to. There is no mention or even context of two separate peoples. There is not even a differentiation between those being born again from the Jews and the “little flock” gentiles. It is not even in the context.

    Next I want to turn our attention RftS p. 77-78. On page 77 there is a section called “Can a person who is not “born again” be saved?” (WTB&TS, 77). In the second paragraph on p. 78 I find their reasoning very interesting. RftS states:
    – “After listing many pre-Christian persons of faith, Hebrews 11:39,40 says: “All these, although they had witness borne to them through their faith, did not get the fulfillment of the promise, as God foresaw something better for us, in order that they might not be made perfect apart from us.” (Who are here meant by “us”? Hebrews 3:1 shows that they are “partakers of the heavenly calling.” The pre-Christian persons who had faith then, must – have a hope for perfect life somewhere other than in heaven.)
    Now there is a lot to digest here, but we will start by reasoning, does did not get the fulfillment mean that they never will get it? This is a huge problem if one stops and thinks about it. When does God ever promise something that he will not deliver? He doesn’t, Father Yahweh never fails his people. To get a better understanding let’s go back a few verses to see what is going on. Hebrews 11:13-16:
    – “13 In faith all of these died, although they did not receive the fulfillment of the promises;(*a) but they saw them from a distance(*b) and welcomed them and publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land.14 For those who speak in such a way make it evident that they are earnestly seeking a place of their own. 15 And yet, if they had kept remembering the place from which they had departed,(*c) they would have had opportunity to return.16 But now they are reaching out for a better place, that is, – one belonging to heaven….”(NWT,1611)
    Verse 13 says they didn’t receive the fulfillment which means the promises were not complete. Nowhere does it say their promises were taken away. It goes on to say they saw them from afar off and said they were strangers in this land. How are they going to be strangers, when they going to be resurrected right back to Earth? Verse 14 says they would even return to that land if they kept dwelling on it. Now if we apply the same standard RftS applies to 1 Peter 1:3,4(as you will see in the next paragraph) does verse 16 mean they are going to heaven? Verse 19 we have Abraham reasoning that if he offers up his son, God will still resurrect him to the promises that they were seeing in verse 13. Why would you kill your son for a promise he would never see? Especially if that promise was meant for someone else, i.e. the future Christians. Also, where is the replacement or other promise that Abraham and the rest of the “pre-Christians now have to rely on? I submit that they are all one in the same, just viewed from a different point in time. I also want to bring up the glaring question of why did they not receive the promise and what was it replaced with? Does chapter 11 talk about heaven being the promise that is being taken away from

    Last I want to cover how the born again go to heaven. On page 77 from the “Only persons who have been “born again,” thus becoming God’s sons, can share in the heavenly kingdom” (WTB&TS, 77), 1 Peter 1:3,4 is quoted, and it is the last part that is used to say the born again go to heaven. 1 Peter 1:4 “to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance. It is reserved in the heavens for you.” (NWT, 1621). Does something being reserved in the heavens mean you or the born again are going there? Let us look at James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect present is from above, coming down from the Father of the celestial lights, …” (NWT, 1616). Does James 1:17 mean that all good gifts we get in this world literally fall from heaven above like Santa dropping gifts, or does it mean that it is willed from the Father in heaven. With this in mind 1 Peter 1:4 does not explicitly teach the born again are going to heaven. More likely this verse is saying that the born again’s faith of a better life is just that, reserved in a future plan awaiting to be given to them, the righteous.

    The key when examining any JW belief is follow the references and verses meant to support a particular belief and more times than not the verse(s) used are not even in the context or realm of what is being taught.

    1. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Reasoning from the Scriptures.
    Brooklyn: WTB&TS, 1985. Print
    2. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. Wallkill: WTB&TS, 2013. Print

  3. rotherham2 says:

    Hello Eastward, I would be glad to debate/discuss with you what you have presented, but could we narrow it down a bit? maybe try and isolate a topic or two to start with and then move on?

    Regards,
    Rotherham

  4. Eastwardtohelel says:

    Hiya Rotherham, well you are more than welcome to pick any of them that you want at any time, but since you asking I’ll start off and just go from there. There actually are only two points or topic that I am focusing on. One is what did these terms mean to the ancient Jew and second are the verses that are being used to support the WTB&TS claim on what “born again” means. For now we can just stick to the verses and we will start with my concern on John 1:11,12-13. I will repast that section for you to review.
    *****************************************************************************
    On page 77 of RftS we come to a section about “Only persons who have been “born again,” thus becoming God’s sons, can share in the heavenly Kingdom” (WTB&TS). Further RftS says that John 1:12,13 teaches that it was the Jews who can only be born again. To illustrate this the reader is told “(As many as did receive him” does not mean all humans who have put faith in Christ. Notice who is being referred to, as indicated by verse 11 [“his own people,” the Jews]. The same privilege has been extended to others of mankind, but only to a little flock.”)” (WTB&TS,77)

    First John is not even talking to a Jewish crowd, it is a narrative to open his Gospel, and nowhere does it imply that only the Jews could be born again. As a matter of fact, grammatically all kinds of assumptions or interpretations could be drawn from the insert from RftS. Was it the supposed crowd, the Jewish reader, or any reader for that matter. Were there only Jews in the supposed crowd? What about proselytes and gentiles who put faith in him. I believe there is a little deception or very bad theology being presented here. John 1:11 does state “his own people”, but if we read John1:11 in its entirety we will see something completely different. John1:11 reads, “He came to his own home, but his own people did not accept him.” (NWT,1426). Then verse 12 continues, “However, to all who did receive him, he gave authority to become God’s children,(*e) because they were exercising faith in his name.(*f)” (NWT, 1426). This seems to imply at the very least that his own people, the Jews, did not receive him but there were others that did, Jews and Gentiles. Notice in John1:12 it says, “to all who did who did receive him,” (NWT,1426). Interestingly enough the WTB&TS still quote the 1984 version of the NWT, “However, as many as did receive him.” Yet the NWT 2013 version says, “to ALL”. (More than likely the WTB&TS has yet to simply update RftS, but still worth of notation.) John 1:12-13 doesn’t say to any Jew or to all Jews and I find it deeply disturbing that the WTB&TS use verse 11 in the manner that they do. In conclusion I ask, is the WTB&TS trying to reason with us by saying the ones who are going to be born again are “his own people” that rejected him(Yahshua)?
    ***************************************************************************

    Here is my point summed up. Reasoning from the Scriptures uses verses 12-13 to prove there is a group of people who are going to be “born again” and then verse 11 is used to identify who the born again are. The problem is that the group in verse 11 are different than that of verses 12-13, diametrically opposed I would say. Then to make it worse or more confusing, RftS wraps up the explanation saying that the same privilege will be given to others(gentiles) with no scriptural support. If John 1:12-13 teaches a group will be born again and verse 11 tells you who(the Jews), where does the others slide into verses 12-13? Verses 12-13 would, in your belief, still be talking about the Jews that accepted Christ as opposed to those who didn’t. And if verses 12-13 are talking about Jews AND grafted in gentiles then you have just defeated to whole point of using verse 11 to tell who verses 12-13 are about.

    Last and more important to me is the way verse 11 is used by the WTB&TS to make their theological position. This is the same argument that hate groups, such as Hebrew Israelites, use to prove that Yahshua came ONLY to save the Jews and no one else. I know that is not what you guys preach or believe, but it is the same exact argument.

  5. rotherham2 says:

    Hello eastward,
    In reading through this and looking at the passage in question, I don’t think I see the problem you seem to see. Let me lay out the passage with some notes placed within to show you why I don’t see the problem. of course, you probably realize that there is far more to this teaching than what is stated in John, so regardless of where we end up on this passage there would still be a great deal to talk about. Anyway, here goes:

    John 1:11-. 11 He came to his own home, but his own people(THE ISRAELITE NATION AS A WHOLE) did not accept him. 12 However, to all(INDIVIDUAL ISRAELITES) who did receive him, he gave authority to become God’s children,+ because they were exercising faith in his name.+ 13 And they were born, not from blood or from a fleshly will or from man’s will, but from God. (“As many as did receive him” does not mean all humans who have put faith in Christ. Notice who is being referred to, as indicated by verse 11 [“his own people,” the Jews]. The same privilege has been extended to others of mankind, but only to a “little flock.”)
    ###########################################################

    There is nothing unnatural about reading it this way, unless you would take the position that NO JEWS AT ALL received him. Clearly that is not what the verse would be saying.Therefore, it seems entirley natural to read it as we see it. The “all who did receive him” naturally refers to the nearest reference, which is his people the Israelites. Obviously not the same ones who rejected him but from among his people, the Israelites. You yourself acknowledge this reference as in the context of the passage. So regardless of who the initial crowd or readers of this would be, the context clearly identifies who the áll who did receive him’ refers to, his own people. They were the ones given the authority, at least initially, to become God’s children. Like i said, I don’t see a problem here. Nor did it say that ONLY Jews can be born again. Rather, it states “The same privilege has been extended to others of mankind.” True, the Reasoning book did not immediately address that evidence, but there are numerous other references that do. There is nothing unnatural about reading it this way, unless you would take the position that NO JEWS AT ALL received him. Clearly that is not what the verse would be saying.

    *****************************************************************************
    On page 77 of RftS we come to a section about “Only persons who have been “born again,” thus becoming God’s sons, can share in the heavenly Kingdom” (WTB&TS). Further RftS says that John 1:12,13 teaches that it was the Jews who can only be born again. To illustrate this the reader is told “(As many as did receive him” does not mean all humans who have put faith in Christ. Notice who is being referred to, as indicated by verse 11 [“his own people,” the Jews]. The same privilege has been extended to others of mankind, but only to a little flock.”)” (WTB&TS,77)
    First John is not even talking to a Jewish crowd, it is a narrative to open his Gospel, and nowhere does it imply that only the Jews could be born again. As a matter of fact, grammatically all kinds of assumptions or interpretations could be drawn from the insert from RftS. Was it the supposed crowd, the Jewish reader, or any reader for that matter. Were there only Jews in the supposed crowd? What about proselytes and gentiles who put faith in him. I believe there is a little deception or very bad theology being presented here. John 1:11 does state “his own people”, but if we read John1:11 in its entirety we will see something completely different. John1:11 reads, “He came to his own home, but his own people did not accept him.” (NWT,1426). Then verse 12 continues, “However, to all who did receive him, he gave authority to become God’s children,(*e) because they were exercising faith in his name.(*f)” (NWT, 1426). This seems to imply at the very least that his own people, the Jews, did not receive him but there were others that did, Jews and Gentiles.
    ###############################################################
    Do you really think that this scripture is implying that no Jew accepted Christ? Does anyone believe that?! Its easily distinguishing between collectively as a nation and individually. You yourself are acknowledging that when you said that among those who DID receive were from among JEWS and gentiles.
    #########################################################

    Notice in John1:12 it says, “to all who did who did receive him,” (NWT,1426). Interestingly enough the WTB&TS still quote the 1984 version of the NWT, “However, as many as did receive him.” Yet the NWT 2013 version says, “to ALL”. (More than likely the WTB&TS has yet to simply update RftS, but still worth of notation.) John 1:12-13 doesn’t say to any Jew or to all Jews and I find it deeply disturbing that the WTB&TS use verse 11 in the manner that they do. In conclusion I ask, is the WTB&TS trying to reason with us by saying the ones who are going to be born again are “his own people” that rejected him(Yahshua)?
    ***************************************************************************
    ##################################################################
    Of course not, there is obviously a distinction between the Jews collectively and the individuals from among them who did receive Christ, otherwise we would be forced to the view that absolutely no one from among his people received him, which everyone knows would not be correct.

    Here is my point summed up. Reasoning from the Scriptures uses verses 12-13 to prove there is a group of people who are going to be “born again” and then verse 11 is used to identify who the born again are. The problem is that the group in verse 11 are different than that of verses 12-13, diametrically opposed I would say.
    ################################################################
    IF you say they are diametrically opposed then again, you would have to think that this verse teaches us that NO JEW accepted Christ, which is grave error.
    ########################################################
    Then to make it worse or more confusing, RftS wraps up the explanation saying that the same privilege will be given to others(gentiles) with no scriptural support.

    The scripture refrenced in theReasoning book refers to Gentiles and their new birth in heaven.
    1 Pet. 1:3, 4: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for according to his great mercy he gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance. It is reserved in the heavens for you.”

    Peter was clearly addressing gentiles according to the second chapter
    .”+ They are stumbling because they are disobedient to the word. To this very end they were appointed. 9 But you are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,+ a people for special possession,+ that you should declare abroad the excellencies”*+ of the One who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.+ 10 For you were once not a people, but now you are God’s people;+ once you had not been shown mercy, but now you have received mercy.+ v

    If John 1:12-13 teaches a group will be born again and verse 11 tells you who(the Jews), where does the others slide into verses 12-13? Verses 12-13 would, in your belief, still be talking about the Jews that accepted Christ as opposed to those who didn’t. And if verses 12-13 are talking about Jews AND grafted in gentiles then you have just defeated to whole point of using verse 11 to tell who verses 12-13 are about.
    #########################################################################
    There is no reason to think that because the Jews were initially referenced as becoming children that it wouldn’t include others. Those verses in John do not exist in a vacuum. They exist, like all verses, in a greater context, and that greater context addresses the Gentiles.

    Last and more important to me is the way verse 11 is used by the WTB&TS to make their theological position. This is the same argument that hate groups, such as Hebrew Israelites, use to prove that Yahshua came ONLY to save the Jews and no one else. I know that is not what you guys preach or believe, but it is the same exact argument.
    ######################################################################

    I Am not familiar with their line of reasoning so I can’t really adequately address what you are saying here.

    Regards,
    Rotherham

    1. Eastwardtohelel says:

      I am going to comment and show you why it is I disagree with your outlook on these verses, but I do have a question before we begin. Do you know what the term or idiom of “Born again” meant to an ancient Jew? It isn’t a new term that just pops up in the New Testament and I believe it will shed tremendous light on this subject by giving us “greater context” as to what it meant to these Jewish writers.

  6. rotherham2 says:

    Well, I found the following:
    Is this what you are in reference to?

    _____________________________________________________
    “Born again” is not a Christian term. It is a Jewish term!

    Yeshua told Nicodemus, a teacher in Israel, “Except a man be born of water and the Spirit (Spirit of Truth which is being Torah observant), he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

    To “be born of water” was a Jewish expression for physical birth.

    However, physical birth by itself is not sufficient to provide entrance into the Kingdom of God.

    Man must be born of the Spirit – “Spirit of Truth” which is a metaphor for Torah, being Torah observant.

    ________________________________________________
    Regards,
    Rotherham

    1. Eastwardtohelel says:

      So I am very intrigued right now. I keep wanting to comment on what you say but I’m just going to follow this and see where it ends. So correct me if I am wrong Rotherham, does the WTB&TS teach that “born again” only applies to those in the in the the New Covenant(the 144000) destined for the heavenly kingdom?

  7. rotherham2 says:

    We believe that is the scriptural understanding, all things considered.
    Regards, Rotherham
    WHAT I STATED PREVIOUSLY WAS SOMETHING
    I FOUND THAT AAPEARS TO STATE THE JEWISH POSITION, NOT MY VIEW

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