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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Millions Now Living Will Never Die


Contributing to disciple-making work in those days was a new preaching activity—the “Millions Campaign.” It featured distribution of the 128-page book Millions Now Living Will Never Die, placed with the people on a contribution of 25c a copy. The book was used in conjunction with a public-speaking program that began on September 25, 1920, and that centered around a lecture (originally entitled “The World Has Ended—Millions Now Living May Never Die”) given by J. F. Rutherford in Los Angeles on February 24, 1918, and published in the new book in 1920.

In retrospect, Lester L. Roper says: “Then came my time for a public talk on the subject ‘Lift Up a Standard for the People, Millions Now Living That Will Never Die.’ I was accustomed to dealing with the public, but that was different. I felt the floor would come up and hit me in the face any time. And I guess it did take intestinal fortitude, as then we had only a very small number in the truth in all the world—and to tell them ‘Millions now living would never die’!”

Millions Now Living Will Never Die eventually was translated and published in various languages. Unlike the “pastoral work,” which had consisted of lending books to the people, copies of the “Millions” book were placed with them on a contribution, and interested persons could later obtain volumes of Studies in the Scriptures. The “Millions Campaign” lasted for some time, and a great witness was given by this means. Newspaper notices and billboards with the words “Millions Now Living Will Never Die” were used to bring it to public attention. So extensive was the campaign that the slogan has been remembered through the years.

Recalling the effect of the “Millions Campaign,” Rufus Chappell writes: “We had offered the publication Millions Now Living Will Never Die in and around Zion [Illinois] and the results were of interest. I remember a large, flashing electric sign over the Waukegan Dry Cleaners building on North Sheridan Road about five miles from Zion, which said, ‘We Dye for the Millions Now Living Who Will Never Die.’ This was a very popular subject at that time, and many people had questioned the phrase and learned the truth from this publication.” - 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, WTB&TS

In the lecture “Millions Now Living Will Never Die,” delivered by J. F. Rutherford on March 21, 1920, at the Hippodrome in New York City, attention was directed to the year 1925. On what basis was it thought to be significant? In a booklet published in that same year, 1920, it was pointed out that if 70 full Jubilees were calculated from what was understood to be the date when Israel entered the Promised Land (instead of starting after the last typical Jubilee before the Babylonian exile and then counting to the beginning of the Jubilee year at the end of the 50th cycle), this could point to the year 1925. On the basis of what was said there, many hoped that perhaps the remaining ones of the little flock would receive their heavenly reward by 1925. This year also was associated with expectations for resurrection of faithful pre-Christian servants of God with a view to their serving on earth as princely representatives of the heavenly Kingdom. If that really occurred, it would mean that mankind had entered an era in which death would cease to be master, and millions then living could have the hope of never dying off the earth. What a happy prospect! Though mistaken, they eagerly shared it with others. - Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, WTB&TS


The Watch Tower magazine published a full report of the convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, in 1919, and this gave a fillip to the activity in Britain. On August 25, 1920, President Rutherford and others from Brooklyn began a lecture tour of Britain. The public address was entitled “Millions Now Living Will Never Die.” Up and down the land, packed halls, overflow meetings and thousands not getting in, marked the public response. This lecture was the high point of a four-day convention in London, where the brothers distributed more than 400,000 leaflets for a meeting that overflowed the Royal Albert Hall.

Toward the close of 1920 the Society published Golden Age No. 27, a twenty-page outsize issue of a new magazine. It gave authentic reports on persecutions of God’s people in England, Canada, America, Germany and other lands. It exposed the part Christendom’s religion and its leaders had played. It pointed out the reason for these attacks and declared that Christendom as well as the entire system was doomed. It exposed the League of Nations. It predicted extensive Communism and anarchy. But, above all, it pointed to the remedy for all humankind’s trouble. The campaign with this magazine, planned to start on December 1, 1920, called for a copy to be left at each home. Two weeks later, at a second visit, the caller would invite the householder to contribute for the magazine. Some made a contribution, but some made a fuss because of their distaste for its message.

In 1922 came another tour of Britain by Brother Rutherford again to present the “Millions Now Living Will Never Die” lecture, and again to capacity audiences. In 1925, at conventions during April and May, the same halls were used and again were rapidly packed, and, in many cases, crowds had to be turned away. By the end of that year 1925, there were 355 congregations in Britain and 167 full-time colporteurs besides 96 part-time workers, then known as “auxiliaries.”

Following the lead given by Brother Rutherford, speakers traveled throughout the land giving the same address, “Millions Now Living Will Never Die,” in cinemas, halls, any kind of meeting place that could be rented. Large-scale advertising in newspapers and with tracts and posters drew the attention of the public. The brothers would hire a hall, sometimes in an outlying district, advertise the meeting intensively, give the address, and then cover the territory with the book Millions Now Living Will Never Die. For the first year’s campaign, a quarter of a million books were printed and lectures were given to hundreds of thousands of people. There have been very few statements at any time that have made a greater impact on the public mind than that confident declaration “Millions Now Living Will Never Die.” - 1973 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, WTB&TS


The year 1925 got off to a good enough start, with the French Watch Tower magazine being enlarged from 12 to 16 pages. Also, the tract entitled “Ecclesiastics Indicted” was distributed in France, many copies right outside the churches. In the whole of the French-speaking field, over two million of these tracts were put out!

Brother Rutherford visited France once again in May of 1925. He was scheduled to give the talk, “The Frauds of the Clergy Exposed,” at the great Trocadéro Palace overlooking the river Seine opposite the Eiffel Tower. Brothers from the north of France had come down to Paris a week beforehand to help the local brothers advertise it. But the large-sized handbills quickly got into the hands of the Catholic clergy, who put pressure on the police to stop this street advertising. As a result, some of the brothers were arrested.

About 2,000 persons responded to the invitation and came to the talk. Brother Rutherford began to speak when suddenly about 50 priests and members of Catholic Action, armed with sticks, rushed into the hall singing the Marseillaise (the French national anthem). Three times, Brother Rutherford left the stage and then came back. Opposers were shouting: ‘If he’s a judge, let him go judge the Americans!’ The August 1, 1925, Watch Tower reported:

“While a greater mass of the audience were opposed to the clergy, yet . . . they were bantering with each other and paid no attention to the speaker; and it was impossible to address them. . . . it became absolutely necessary to abandon the meeting.”

That same year of 1925 sparked off even greater difficulties within the organization. The book Millions Now Living Will Never Die had been widely used in the French field since 1921, and on the basis of its contents, much was expected of 1925. But when 1925 came and went without the anticipated happenings coming to pass, those on the outside who had read the book made fun of the brothers. Brother Jules Anache in Sin-le-Noble writes: “We were scoffed at by our enemies who wrote articles, one of which was entitled ‘Millions now living will never die if they take Pink pills,’ referring to a remedy that was popular at the time.”

Worse still, the faith of some of the brothers themselves was shaken. Some expected to go to heaven that year. This brought about siftings in the congregations, particularly in Alsace. Sister Anna Zimmermann writes: “Unjustified hopes brought about great testings. Many gave up.”

Indicative of this testing was the question meeting held by Brother Rutherford during the Basel, Switzerland, assembly, which took place May 1-3, 1926. The report on this convention stated:

“Question: Have the ancient worthies returned?“Answer: Certainly they have not returned. No one has seen them, and it would be foolish to make such an announcement. It was stated in the ‘Millions’ book that we might reasonably expect them to return shortly after 1925, but this was merely an expressed opinion.”A mistake had been made but, as Brother Rutherford stated, this was no reason to stop serving the Lord. Yet some did, and so that period marked further siftings in the French field. Figures published in the French Watch Tower show that in 1925 there were 93 present at the Memorial in the Mulhouse Congregation in Alsace, whereas in 1927 the Memorial attendance had dropped to 23. - 1980 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, WTB&TS

As we have heretofore stated, the great jubilee cycle is due to begin in 1925. At that time the earthly phase of the kingdom shall be recognized. The Apostle Paul in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews names a long list of faithful men who died before the crucifixion of the Lord and before the beginning of the selection of the church. These can never be a part of the heavenly class; they had no heavenly hopes; but God has in store something good for them. They are to be resurrected as perfect men and constitute the princes or rulers in the earth, according to his promise. (Psalm 45:16; Isaiah 32:1; Matthew 8:11) Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews chapter eleven, to the condition of human perfection. - Millions Now Living Will Never Die, published in 1920, WTB&TS.

At the time, it was believed that faithful men of old times, such as Abraham, Joseph, and David, would be resurrected before the end of this system of things and would serve as “princes in all the earth,” in fulfillment of Psalm 45:16. This view was adjusted in 1950, when further study of the Scriptures indicated that those earthly forefathers of Jesus Christ would be resurrected after Armageddon.—See “The Watchtower,” November 1, 1950, pages 414-17.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, in their eagerness for Jesus’ second coming, have suggested dates that turned out to be incorrect. Because of this, some have called them false prophets. Never in these instances, however, did they presume to originate predictions ‘in the name of Jehovah.’ Never did they say, ‘These are the words of Jehovah.’ The Watchtower, the official journal of Jehovah’s Witnesses, has said: “We have not the gift of prophecy.” (January 1883, page 425) “Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible.” (December 15, 1896, page 306) The Watchtower has also said that the fact that some have Jehovah’s spirit “does not mean those now serving as Jehovah’s witnesses are inspired. It does not mean that the writings in this magazine The Watchtower are inspired and infallible and without mistakes.” (May 15, 1947, page 157) “The Watchtower does not claim to be inspired in its utterances, nor is it dogmatic.” (August 15, 1950, page 263) “The brothers preparing these publications are not infallible. Their writings are not inspired as are those of Paul and the other Bible writers. (2 Tim. 3:16) And so, at times, it has been necessary, as understanding became clearer, to correct views. (Prov. 4:18)”—February 15, 1981, page 19. - March 22, 1993 Awake,

“As for you, beloved ones, call to mind the sayings that have been previously spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, how they used to say to you: ‘In the last time there will be ridiculers, proceeding according to their own desires for ungodly things.’ These are the ones that make separations, animalistic men, not having spirituality.” (Jude 17-19) Beloved ones, this is now the second letter I am writing YOU, in which, as in my first one, I am arousing YOUR clear thinking faculties by way of a reminder, that YOU should remember the sayings previously spoken by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through YOUR apostles. For YOU know this first, that in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: “Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep [in death], all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.” (2 Peter 3: 1-4)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Apostates - "animalistic men"

“As for you, beloved ones, call to mind the sayings that have been previously spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, how they used to say to you: ‘In the last time there will be ridiculers, proceeding according to their own desires for ungodly things.’ These are the ones that make separations, animalistic men, not having spirituality.” (Jude 17-19)

Jude said much to expose the “ungodly men” who slyly crept into the congregation. Then, entreating fellow believers for whom he had great affection, Jude bid them to recall words previously spoken by Jesus’ apostles. Recalling those sayings should have moved all genuine Christians to “put up a hard fight for the faith.”

The apostle Paul warned fellow overseers that from among them men would “rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29, 30) He told Timothy that ‘in later times some would fall away from the faith.’ (1 Timothy 4:1, 2) And the apostle Peter specifically warned that ‘in the last days there would come ridiculers, saying: “Where is this promised presence of his?”’—2Peter 3:1-4.

Hence, recipients of Jude’s letter had good reason to expect “ridiculers” to appear during the period that immediately preceded the end of the Jewish system of things. It was not unlikely that the “ungodly men” who had slipped into the congregation were ridiculing faithful believers who adhered to Jehovah’s righteous standards and would not join the “false brothers” in loose conduct. But it was essential that godly persons “put up a hard fight for the faith,” even though they might have been derided by false teachers who ‘proceeded according to’ and were driven by their own immoral “desires for ungodly things.”—Compare 2 Corinthians 11:26; Galatians 2:4, 5.

Whereas God, by his spirit, assured the unity of those loving him, those ungodly ridiculers tried to “make separations,” or “distinctions,” endeavoring to carry on a separating work among Jehovah’s people. (Jude 19, New World Translation, 1950 edition, footnote; Psalm 133:1-3; 1 Corinthians 1:10) Although the ridiculers spoke against faithful responsible men in the congregation, the ungodly ones expressed admiration for individuals who could benefit them. (Jude 8, 16) Like the Pharisees, they looked down on the humble, godly members of the congregation. Rather than gathering with the Lord, they tried to scatter. Even today some try to draw the unsteady away into private groups, supposedly for “Bible study.” This could never promote love for God, Christ and the Christian congregation.—Luke 11:23.

Those men were fittingly termed “animalistic,” or “soulical,” for they were sentient creatures yielding to fleshly sensations, appetites and inclinations. (Compare Kingdom Interlinear Translation, verse 19.) Although they considered themselves spiritually enlightened, Jude described them as “not having spirituality,” or, literally, not having “the spirit.” Actually, those “animalistic men” lacked Jehovah’s spirit, could not comprehend spiritual matters and scarcely rose above the level of unreasoning beasts. If we have Jehovah’s spirit and understand “the deep things of God,” we should be deeply grateful to our heavenly Father.—1 Corinthians 2:6-16.

How to Remain in God’s Love

Additional Reading:

Jude next turned to earnest entreaty, saying:

“But you, beloved ones, by building up yourselves on your most holy faith, and praying with holy spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love, while you are waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ with everlasting life in view.” (Jude 20, 21)

Jude lovingly showed how his cherished fellow believers could remain in the love of Jehovah. Following his counsel certainly would include the cultivating of faith, a fruit of God’s spirit. (Galatians 5:22, 23) But in view of Jude’s earlier reference to fighting for ‘the faith delivered to the holy ones’ (vs. 3), the expression “most holy faith” may have referred to the whole range of Christian teachings, including the good news of salvation. The foundation of such true faith is Christ, and it was called “most holy” because it looked to the God of holiness and was based exclusively upon his holy Word.—Acts 20:32; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.

For Christians to ‘upbuild themselves on their most holy faith,’ or to strengthen it, they must diligently study God’s Word personally and congregationally. Frequently discussing the Scriptures with fellow Christian witnesses of Jehovah, as well as proclaiming the good news to others, will deepen the impression the Bible makes on our hearts. But none of this can be accomplished apart from earnest prayer. An individual ‘prays with holy spirit’ when praying under its influence and in harmony with the things in Jehovah’s Word. Moreover, the Scriptures, written under inspiration of God’s spirit, show us how to pray and what to request in prayer. For instance, we can confidently pray to be filled with God’s holy spirit. If we ‘pray with holy spirit,’ our prayers will reveal a proper heart condition, one loved by God. We will thus be protected from improper influences, including the views of any “ungodly men” who might slip into the congregation.—Luke 11:13; Romans 8:9, 26, 27.

To ‘keep themselves in God’s love,’ Jude’s fellow believers had to observe Jehovah’s commandments and those of His Son. (John 15:10; 1 John 5:3) Remaining in the love of God calls for speech and conduct approved by Jehovah. Being imperfect and sinful, the faithful ones would, in order to remain in God’s love, continually require Jehovah’s mercy extended through Jesus Christ and made possible by means of the ransom sacrifice of their Lord. (Romans 5:8; 9:14-18; 1 John 4:9, 10) The continuance of divine mercy toward Jesus’ faithful followers eventually results in everlasting life.—John 3:16.

- September 1, 1982 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Apostasy (IPA: /əˈpɒstəsi/) is the formal religious disaffiliation or abandonment or renunciation of one's religion, especially if the motive is deemed unworthy. In a technical sense, as used sometimes by sociologists without the pejorative connotations of the word, the term refers to renunciation and criticism of, or opposition to, one's former religion. One who commits apostasy is an apostate, or one who apostatizes. The word derives from Greek αποστασία (apostasia), meaning a defection or revolt, from απο, apo, "away, apart", στασις, stasis, "stand", "standing". Bryan R. Wilson, who was a professor of Sociology at Oxford University, writes that apostates of new religious movements are generally in need of self-justification, and seek to reconstruct their past and to excuse their former affiliations, while blaming those who were formerly their closest associates. Wilson utilizes the term atrocity story, [a story] that is in his view rehearsed by the apostate to explain how, by manipulation, coercion or deceit, he was recruited to a group that he now condemns. Wilson also challenges the reliability of the apostate's testimony by saying that "the apostate [is] always seen as one whose personal history predisposes him to bias with respect to his previous religious commitment and affiliations, the suspicion must arise that he acts from a personal motivation, to vindicate himself and to regain his self-esteem, by showing himself to have been first a victim, but subsequently a redeemed crusader."

Lonnie D. Kliever, Ph.D., Professor of Religious Studies, Southern Methodist University writes “There is no denying that these dedicated and diehard opponents of the new religions present a distorted view of the new religions to the public, the academy, and the courts by virtue of their ready availability and eagerness to testify against their former religious associations and activities. Such apostates always act out of a scenario that vindicates themselves by shifting responsibility for their actions to the religious group. Indeed, the various brainwashing scenarios so often invoked against the new religious movements have been overwhelmingly repudiated by social scientists and religion scholars as nothing more than calculated efforts to discredit the beliefs and practices of unconventional religions in the eyes of governmental agencies and public opinion. Such apostates can hardly be regarded as reliable informants by responsible journalists, scholars, or jurists. Even the accounts of voluntary defectors with no grudges to bear must be used with caution since they interpret their past religious experience in the light of present efforts to re-establish their own self-identity and self-esteem. In short, on the face of things, apostates from new religions do not meet the standards of personal objectivity, professional competence, and informed understanding required of expert witnesses.”

Religious scholars have routinely found the testimony and public statements of apostates to be unreliable. In his book "The Politics of Religious Apostasy: The Role of Apostates in the Transformation of Religious Movement", Professor David Bromley, Department of Sociology and Anthropology of Virginia Commonwealth University, explained how individuals who elect to leave a chosen faith must then become critical of their religion in order to justify their departure. This then opens the door to being recruited and used by organizations which seek to use their testimony as a weapon against a minority religion. "Others may ask, if the group is as transparently evil as he now contends, why did he espouse its cause in the first place? In the process of trying to explain his own seduction and to confirm the worst fears about the group, the apostate is likely to paint a caricature of the group that is shaped more by his current role as apostate than by his actual experience in the group."

John Gordon Melton is an American religious scholar who was the founding director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion and is currently a research specialist in religion and New Religious Movements with the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. While testifying as an expert witness in a lawsuit, said that when investigating groups one should not rely solely upon the unverified testimony of ex-members, and that hostile ex-members would invariably shade the truth and blow out of proportion minor incidents, turning them into major incidents. Melton also follows the argumentation of Lewis Carter and David Bromley and claims that as a result of this study, the [psychological] treatment (coerced or voluntary) of former members largely ceased, and that a (perceived) lack of widespread need for psychological help by former members of new religions would in itself be the strongest evidence refuting early sweeping condemnations of new religions as causes of psychological trauma.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Watchman, what of the night?

“Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night.”—Isa. 21:11, 12, Authorized Version.

THE world is passing through a “night”! It is now approaching the darkest period of this figurative night. What will be the look of things when the morning dawns remains to be seen. What is disturbing mankind more and more is the worsening of the state of human affairs in every aspect of life. World history times this as beginning with the first world war. Politicians, religious clergymen, social leaders and economists may think they see some rays of dawn and may try to spark up good cheer. But there is no solid reason to be optimistic about the tottering system of things.

The coming of this “night” was seen decades in advance. The available records of the past century prove that. The dawning of the brightest “day” in all human history was also foreseen. It was called to public notice by word of mouth and printed page.

A magazine that now has a circulation of millions of copies each issue, in scores of languages, bears witness to that fact. When its first issue appeared in July of 1879 the magazine was entitled “Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.” That first issue contained eight pages, and its page size was greater than that of the magazine today. It had a timely mission to fulfill. This was hinted at in that its title contained the meaningful words “Watch Tower.” Fittingly, then, at the masthead under the title there appeared the significant quotation from the most ancient book on earth. It read: “Watchman, What of the Night?” “The Morning Cometh.” Those words were quoted from the Holy Bible, from the prophecy of Isaiah chapter 21, verses 11, 12, according to the King James or Authorized Version. In Bible times a watchman was associated with a watchtower on the wall of a fortified city. This elevated position provided a fine lookout. The publishers of the magazine purposed to serve as a watchman class. By means of the columns of the magazine, the publishers endeavored to answer the question, “Watchman, what of the night?” That challenging question continued to appear on the first page of the magazine down to its issue of December 15, 1938.

When the Watch Tower magazine first appeared on July 1, 1879, with a modest printing of 6,000 copies, the world stage was taking on a portentous appearance. The Franco-German War of 1870 had been fought, and the second German Reich or Empire had emerged. An arms race was due to develop between the British Empire and the rival German Empire. In 1878 the Berlin Congress of Nations had been held for settling the Eastern Question that involved the dismemberment of the Turkish Empire between European empires, particularly Britain and Russia. Consequential future hostilities between nations threatened!

It was indeed a time for looking into the prophecies of the Bible to see whether they had anything at all to say about the meaning of world events and their outcome. Appropriately, on January 1, 1895, the Watch Tower magazine changed its front-cover design to show a corner watchtower at the edge of a raging sea. Also, at the bottom of the page under this new design, the magazine displayed the following words based on Luke 21:25-31 (AV) in italic letters: “Upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity; the sea and the waves (the restless, discontented) roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear and for looking forward to the things coming upon the earth (society); for the powers of the heavens (ecclesiasticism) shall be shaken. . . . When ye see these things come to pass, then know that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Look up, lift up your heads, rejoice, for your redemption draweth nigh.—Luke 21:25-28-31.”

The Spanish-American War followed in 1898 with losses to the Spanish Empire. In 1899 came the Boer War in South Africa, with gains for the British Empire. The international arms race speeded up. When the aeroplane was invented, it allowed for warfare in the skies. By then, too, successful forms of submarines had been invented and used in warfare. Thus the 20th century promised to be an exciting time for the “watchman” class to report on to anxious inquirers. Especially so, since the “watchman” class expected the “times of the Gentiles” to end in autumn of 1914.—Luke 21:24, AV.


The inquiry in Isaiah 21:11, addressed to the “watchman,” finds itself couched in a setting breathing war. The context that follows reads: “The pronouncement against the desert plain: In the forest in the desert plain you will spend the night, O caravans of men of Dedan. To meet the thirsty one bring water. O you inhabitants of the land of Tema, confront the one fleeing away with bread for him. For because of the swords they have fled away, because of the drawn sword, and because of the bent bow and because of the heaviness of the war. For this is what Jehovah has said to me: ‘Within yet a year, according to the years of a hired laborer, all the glory of Kedar must even come to its end. And the ones remaining over of the number of bowmen, the mighty men of the sons of Kedar, will become few, for
Jehovah himself, the God of Israel, has spoken it.’”—Isa. 21:13-17.

Likewise, the “pronouncement” that precedes the exchange of words between the inquirer and the watchman breathes of warfare. So there is reason for concern on the part of the inquirer. Where is the inquirer located? Evidently in the path of a world conqueror. Isaiah 21:11 reads: “The pronouncement against Dumah: To me there is one calling out from Seir: “Watchman, what about the night? Watchman, what about the night?’”

The name of the place against which the pronouncement is aimed is called Dumah, a name that means “Silence.” Evidently the name is prophetic, predicting that the place is to become marked by silence. The name does not necessarily mean that the silence due to desolation and death already reigns there. Dumah’s location is indicated by the fact that the call to the watchman comes from Seir, the land of Seir. This land is associated with Idumea, the country of Edom. This may account for it that the Greek Septuagint Version speaks of Idumea instead of Dumah. Edom was the nickname that was given to Esau, the older twin brother of Jacob. The people of the land of Edom opposed the nation of Jacob, or the nation of Israel.

Jacob’s older twin brother was called Esau, which means “hairy,” because he was hairy at birth. The name Seir means “hairy or shaggy,” but the land of that name was not so called because of Esau. His descendants took over the land of Seir by conquering the original inhabitants. Esau, or Edom, is notorious for having been willing to sell the birthright of a firstborn son to Jacob. Jehovah, the God of Jacob, recognized the sale and conferred the divine blessing upon the purchaser, Jacob. For this reason Jacob became hated by Esau. Little cause for amazement, then, that, when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E., Esau’s descendants, the Edomites, gave way to glee over the terrible calamity upon their brother nation, Israel. This national disaster, together with the carrying of the surviving Israelites into Babylonia, took place in the century after Isaiah’s prophecy about the watchman.

Where, though, is the location of the watchman to whom the inquirer in the Edomite land of Seir directs his inquiry? The prophecy concerning the inquirer and the watchman was given by Isaiah, and he found himself in the yet free land of Israel. So the source of the watchman’s answer lay in the land of Israel, regardless of where the Israelites came to find themselves at the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. At the time of the giving of the prophecy Isaiah represented the watchman appointed at God’s command to give the correct answer to the inquiry. Isaiah and his children had the divine approbation. Very appropriately, then, Isaiah pictured the “watchman” class of today, the remnant of spiritual Israelites who have the heavenly inheritance. These are the ones who have been enlightened with regard to the darksome world situation today.

In 1879 C.E., the editor of the Watch Tower magazine and his associates were fully dedicated, baptized Christians. They offered themselves to serve as a watchman group in behalf of their spirit-anointed Christian brothers. All of these together made up a larger “watchman” class. They could not dodge the then arising question, “Watchman, what of the night?” The only trustworthy answer that they could give was that which God’s inspired Word put into the mouth of the watchman of old. This was, in effect, “The morning cometh, and also the night.” (Isa. 21:12, AV) Ah, yes, according to the outlook given by Jehovah God a brighter period, “the morning,” had to come. This would usher in the millennium, or thousand years, of the reign of Jehovah’s Messiah, his glorified Son Jesus. But before that there had to come “the night” of world distress!

Doubtless, because of the promised “morning” that was to usher in the millennial reign of Christ, the series of Studies in the Scriptures that the editor of the Watch Tower began to publish in 1886 was called “Millennial Dawn.” And under that title were quoted the words of Proverbs 4:18, AV: “The Path of the Just is as the Shining Light, Which Shineth More and More Unto the Perfect Day.” But it was “the night” over which the inquirer in the land of Seir was so concerned. In the days of the prophet Isaiah any darkness of “the night” that rested upon the Edomite land of Seir was due to thicken. This would be the case as that land came under the domination of a new world conqueror, one favoring, not the Edomites of Mount Seir, but, rather, the brother nation of Israel.

Today, more than a century after the Watch Tower magazine first appeared, worldly people who are groping for the light continue to raise the pressing question, “What about the night?” The only one that has the valid answer to that question is the “watchman” class. This class has not been at a loss for the right answer, the Bible answer. It has welcomed all further inquiry, just as in Isaiah’s prophecy the watchman went on to say: “If you people would inquire, inquire. Come again!”—Isa. 21:12.

To that end the Watch Tower magazine has continued to be published until now. Just as a literal watchman has to keep awake all the time at his guard post, so the Watch Tower magazine has kept awake and has not missed an issue since its first issue in July of 1879. This has been true despite the worldwide persecution upon the “watchman” class during World Wars I and II. It has reported on the progress of “the night,” not being afraid to announce that it will reach its darkest point in “the war of the great day of God the Almighty” at what Bible prophecy calls Har–Magedon. Thus the anointed “watchman” class keeps on fulfilling its commission to “proclaim . . . the day of vengeance on the part of our God.”—Rev. 16:14-16; Isa. 61:1, 2.

- July 1, 1980 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Emphatic Diaglott

In the year 1857 Benjamin Wilson, a newspaper editor in Geneva, Illinois, U.S.A., published the first section of his interlinear translation of the inspired Greek Scriptures. The final section was issued in 1863. It was issued as one bound volume in 1864 and was called “The Emphatic Diaglott.” The name “Diaglott” means, literally, “through tongue,” but is understood to signify “interlinear.” In 1902 the copyright and plates of the Diaglott were bought from the Fowler & Wells Company of New York city and were presented as a gift to the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, Charles Taze Russell being then president of the Society. In the year 1927 this Society began issuing the Diaglott as printed on its own presses, and continues publishing it till now.

In the broad left-hand column of each page the Diaglott presents the Greek text, using the recension made by the German Dr. J. J. Griesbach in 1775-1777, and under each Greek word is presented its English equivalent. In the slim right-hand column of each page is presented a modern English translation as made by Benjamin Wilson.

It was through The Emphatic Diaglott that the Society’s first president, C. T. Russell, learned that the inspired Greek Scriptures speak of the second “presence” of Christ, for the Diaglott translated the Greek word “parousía” correctly as “presence,” and not as “coming” like the King James Version Bible. Accordingly when C. T. Russell began publishing the new Bible magazine in July of 1879, he called it Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. Today, ninety years later, this magazine is entitled “The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom,” and is published in seventy-two languages. Apparently, in first naming the magazine in 1879 Editor Russell was unaware that in 1862, or a year before The Emphatic Diaglott was completed, Dr. Robert Young had published in Edinburgh, Scotland, the Bible translation called “Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible” and that this translation also translated the Greek word “parousía” as “presence” and not as “coming.” He also produced the Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, which, on page 188, column 1, shows parousía to mean “a being alongside,” or “presence.” The Watch Tower issue of April, 1883, recommended this Concordance to Bible students.

- November 15, 1969 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Also See:


Benjamin Wilson's main legacy consists in two areas

The original 1865 Fowler and Wells edition of the Emphatic Diaglott was one of the earliest interlinear Greek-English New Testaments published in America and thus had considerable influence. After Wilson's death the copyright was purchased by the Millenial Dawn Bible Students (later the Watchtower Society) which from 1902 distributed Wilson's work widely around the world. For this reason Wilson's name is often incorrectly associated with Jehovah's Witnesses, though Wilson never had any association with the founder of that group Charles Taze Russell. Further Wilson's own views on the allegorical nature of the devil, non-preexistence of Christ, literal return of Christ, - increasing in conflict with the Watchtower Society after 1914 - are occasionally reflected in the side column of the Diaglott giving Wilson's own English translation.

The church Wilson was a leading figure in founding still exists today. In 1921 the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith split into two, primarily over the issue of whether the devil was to be understood as literal or figurative, both taking the name Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith, resulting in some confusion today: The smaller group, which retained the view of Wilson on the devil as allegory, is now sometimes also known as the Church of the Blessed Hope. This group is in unity talks with Christadelphians. The larger group, which today predominantly believe in a supernatural devil, are also known as the Church of God General Conference. Their publications commonly cite Joseph Marsh (1802-1863) rather than Wilson as their spiritual forebear, though Marsh's role in the formation of the group is not clearly documented.

- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A nephew of Benjamin Wilson wrote this account of the production of The Diaglott:

"While I was a boy, my father put me into The Gospel Banner office to learn the printing business. It was during this time, that the EMPHATIC DIAGLOTT was translated and printed. I can now in my mind’s eye see my Uncle Benjamin, sitting at his desk, making a literal word for word translation of the New Testament. I remember seeing the Greek type arrive from England. Many readers of the Diaglott may not be aware that my Uncle not only translated the Diaglott, but took charge of the mechanical work as well. He electro-typed the entire book himself. The following was the process he followed. As each page of the Diaglott was put into type, he took an impression of the page of type in wax. This wax mold was then blackened with very fine blacklead dust. He had a vat containing acid. In this acid he hung a copper plate, and also the wax mold, before he went home at night. In the morning he would find the wax mold would be covered with a thin sheet of copper. This acid dissolved the copper, and the black lead attracted it to the wax mold. He then made metal plates out of melted metal and fastened the copper sheet upon it. He then printed the first edition of the book, from these plates, on a hand press. I used to ink the plate by a soft roller, while he worked the press."

- Peter Hemingray. A preface to the new edition of The Emphatic Diaglott, The Abrahamic Faith Beacon Publishing Society, Miami 2003


We are in receipt of many letters asking, whether this work is of any value to English readers who have no knowledge of the Greek. We answer, Yes; it is specially designed for such: and the Diaglott, together with Young's Analytical Concordance, are worth more than a year's study of the Greek. Both should be in the hands of every Bible student; but if you cannot afford both, the Diaglott is the most valuable--indeed almost indispensable.

Many orders come for the Diaglott from persons not subscribers to the TOWER, and for extra copies for friends from those who are subscribers. Hence, we must explain particularly, why we can supply this work to TOWER subscribers only, and to these only one copy each, at the special price $1.50. The reasons are as follows:

Some years ago a Brother, who is a great friend to the TOWER, and a great admirer of the Emphatic Diaglott also, suggested that, Every student of God's plan, as presented in the TOWER, ought to have the aid which the Diaglott affords. The difficulty which seemed to stand in the way was, that it is of necessity an expensive work (Retail price in cloth binding $4.00, postage 16 cts. = $4.16.) and the great majority of our readers are far from wealthy, like the majority of the saints in all ages. To meet this difficulty, the Brother proposed to the TOWER PUB. CO., that, if they would be at the trouble and expense of mailing the books, he would supply one copy each to all TOWER subscribers, at a price to bring the book within the reach of all, viz. $1.50, including postage.

This was begun when our subscription list was much smaller than now, and is still continued: New readers of either DIAGLOTT or TOWER need both. Subscribers will please save us the annoyance of refusing, and returning their money, by ordering only one copy of the Diaglott: unless your first copy has worn out,--in which case, in ordering another, mention this fact. The only way for others to get the book at this special price is to subscribe for the TOWER: and the Diaglott must be mailed direct to the subscriber and not to another person.

- July, 1888 Watchtower, WTB&TS


This very valuable work, published under the author's copyright by Fowler & Wells Co., New York City, until now (A.D. 1902), has been sold by them at $4 in cloth and $5 in half leather binding. For several years a friend, an earnest Bible student, desirous of assisting the readers of our Society's publications, has supplied them through us at a greatly reduced price; now he has purchased the copyuright and plates from the Fowler & Wells Co., and presented the same to our Society as a gift, under our assurance that the gift will be used for the furthering of the Truth to the extent of our ability, by such a reduction of price as will permit the poor of the Lord's flock to have this help in the study of the Word.

REDUCED PRICES.--These will be sold with ZION'S WATCH TOWER only. In cloth binding $1.50 (6s. 3d.)--includes postage and one year's subscription, new or renewal, to Z.W.T. On thin paper, in full morocco leather, divinity circuit, red under gold edges, silk sewed leather lined, $2.50 (10s. 6d.)-- includes postage and one year's subscription to Z.W.T. The morocco bound edition will not be ready for some time, but orders may be sent in now, for later delivery.

- December 15, 1902 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Christadelphians will know him best as the author of The Emphatic Diaglott. In my experience, however, the knowledge of his work often exceeds that of the author himself. For instance, I have often noted CGAF connections with Wilson only to hear the reply: "Oh yes, he was a Russellite!" I can assure you he was never such. The confusion probably arises because the copyright for The Diaglott was purchased in the early 20th century by an anonymous buyer who then donated it to the Watchtower Society. The fact that they published his work is a sad, ironic twist of history — nothing more. It must be emphasized that there was never any connection between Benjamin Wilson and the group now known as the "Jehovah’s Witnesses". By the time they had acquired the copyright, Wilson had died, and there is no evidence at all that Benjamin Wilson ever came in contact with anyone from the "Millennial Dawn Bible Students", as the denomination was popularly referred to before 1931. (There is a much happier ending to this story, as many may know. In 2004, the Abrahamic Faith Beacon Publishing Society brought home The Emphatic Diaglott and re-published a new version of it, working in partnership with The Christadelphian Advancement Trust.)

Benjamin Wilson was a towering man of faith. He was a printer by trade and printed a newspaper, The Western Mercury, after he settled in Geneva — a small town west of Chicago — in 1844. But he was far more than just a printer. He was also a diligent Bible scholar, to which The Diaglott attests. This translation was truly a labor of love for him. Not only did he spend hours, days, and months poring over the Greek — he probably spent just as much time setting the type for its publication:

"I can now in my mind’s eye see my Uncle Benjamin, sitting at his desk, making a literal word for word translation of the New Testament. I remember seeing the Greek type arrive from England. Many readers of the Diaglott may not be aware that my Uncle not only translated the Diaglott, but took charge of the mechanical work as well. He electro-typed the entire book himself" (Thomas Wilson, "How, When, Where, and By Whom was the Gospel of the Kingdom First Introduced into the Western States?", The Restitution, Nov. 28, 1906).

Benjamin Wilson believed in the virtue of independent Bible study. He fully understood that it falls to each of us to "prove what is true" and "hold fast that which is good." It was evident in the many columns he wrote as editor of The Gospel Banner for some 15 years.

This leaning on the Word is nowhere more evident than the Confession of Faith that he, along with fellow brethren, crafted in 1868 when they formed their first congregation of believers in Geneva. It is both elegant in simplicity and gracious in expression. The main points are listed here:

- Reflection, January 2009, The CHRISTADELPHIAN TIDINGS of the Kingdom of God


To trouble the reader with any lengthy remarks on the important advantages to be derived from a new translation of the Sacred Writings is deemed altogether unnecessary. Much information on this point has been given by others who have published modern Versions of the New Testament, with the reasons which have induced them to do so. Those reasons will serve in a great measure also for this. It is generally admitted by all critics that the Authorized or Common version of the Scriptures absolutely needs revision. Obsolete words, uncouth phrases, bad grammar and punctuation, etc., all require alteration. But this is not all. There are errors of a more serious nature which need correction. The translators of the Common version were circumscribed and trammeled by royal mandate; they were required to retain certain old ecclesiastical words which, accordingly, were left untranslated. Thus the minds of many who had no means of knowing the meaning of the original words have been misled and confused. Biblical criticism, however, during the last two hundred years, has done much to open up and elucidate the Word of God, by discovering many things which were unknown to the old translators, making great improvements in the text, detecting numerous interpolations and errors, and suggesting far better renderings of many passages. Many modem versions have availed themselves of this valuable assistance, and it is believed they have thereby been enabled to give the English reader a better understanding of what was originally written.

Without presuming to claim any superiority for this, as a translation of the New Testament, over any other modern version, it is thought that the present Work presents certain valuable features, not to be found elsewhere, and which will be of real practical utility to every one who wishes to read the books of the Evangelists and Apostles, as they were written under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. These features are;—An approved Greek text, with the various Readings of the Vatican Manuscript, No. 1209; an Interlineary literal Word for Word English translation; a New Version, with the Signs of Emphasis; a copious selection of References; many appropriate, illustrative, and exegetical Foot-notes; and a valuable Alphabetical Appendix. This combination of important items cannot be found in any other book. The reader will find further remarks on this subject, on the page headed, "Plan of the Work;" and he is also invited to read the pages with the respective captions;—"To the Reader;" "History of the Greek Text;" and "History of English Versions." Also, on another page will be found the "Letters and Pronunciation of the Greek Alphabet," for the special benefit of those who may wish to obtain a rudimentary knowledge of that language.

The intelligent reader will at once perceive the utility and importance of this arrangement. Readers who are familiar with the original tongue obtain in this Work one of the best Greek Testaments, with important ancient Readings, well worthy of their attention; and, it is presumed, that there are even few Greek scholars who are so far advanced but may derive some help from the translation given. Those who have only a little or no knowledge of the Greek may, by careful reading and a little attention to the Interlineary translation, soon become familiar with it. This work, in fact, places in the hands of the intelligent English reader the means of knowing and appropriating for his own benefit, with but little labor on his part, what has cost others years of study and severe toil to acquire.

Scrupulous fidelity has been maintained throughout this version in giving the true rendering of the original text into English; no regard whatever being paid to the prevailing doctrines or prejudices of sects, or the peculiar tenets of theologians. To the Divine authority of the original Scriptures alone has there been the most humble and unbiased submission.

In the preparation of this Work for the press, all available help to be derived from the labors of great and learned men has been obtained and appropriated. Lexicons, Grammars, ancient and modern Versions, Commentaries, critical and explanatory. Cyclopedias, Bible and other Dictionaries, etc., have been consulted and culled from. Also, the suggestions, opinions and criticism of friends, on words, phrases and passages, have been duly considered, and sometimes adopted. It is not presumed that this Work is free from faults or errors. Infallibility is left for others to claim. Great care, however, has been exercised to make it as correct as possible.

The Work is now sent forth to the public, to stand or fall on its own merits. True, it cannot boast of being the production of a council of learned men as King James' version; but let it be remembered that Tyndale alone, under very disadvantageous circumstances, did far more for the English Bible than that learned body, for they only followed in the wake of his labors.

This Volume, principally designed for the instruction and advantage of others. is now reverently committed to the blessing of our Father in the heavens, with an earnest and sincere desire that many of those who peruse its pages may be led by the knowledge, faith and obedience inculcated therein to obtain an inheritance in the aionian kingdom of Jesus the Anointed One.

Geneva, Ill. Aug., 1864


So who was this earnest Bible student, anonymous friend and benefactor?

The answer was established in a court hearing in 1907. And it is not rocket science to guess who it really was.

The hearing was in connection with CTR’s difficulties with Maria Russell, and in April 1907 testimony was taken on CTR’s financial situation. At this hearing he explained quite openly how the Society obtained the Diaglott.

He stressed that the aim had been to allow as many as possible to obtain the Diaglott, and so had made it available on a not for profit basis.

Quoting from pages 204-205 of the transcript of the April 1907 hearing, CTR said (quote and CAPITALS MINE)

We publish also a brief New Testament, with an interlinear translation in English, and the marginal translation. It was published originally and for many years, for 30 or 40 years, by Fowler and Wells, of New York. THE PLATES WERE PRESENTED TO THE SOCIETY BY MYSELF. The Society had certain corrections made in the new plates etc., as they were considerably worn, and the edition which Fowler and Wells retailed at $4.00 and wholesaled at $2.66 – 2/3 the Society is now publishing at $1.50 per copy, and it includes postage of 16 cents on this, and as they are nearly all purchased by subscribers to the Watch Tower it goes additional with each volume, and in his subscription to the journal; that is to say, that the Watch Tower for the year and this book that was formerly sold for $4.00 go altogether, with postage included, for $1.50, WITH THE VIEW OF INTERESTING PEOPLE IN THE WATCH TOWER PUBLICATION, and permitting the Watch Tower subscribers to have the Diaglott in every home possible (end of quote).

So CTR personally donated the plates to the Watch Tower Society.

- Research by Jerome, for the Watch Tower History Blog.

The Kingdom Interlinear Translation

“It Is the Best Interlinear New Testament Available”

THAT is how Dr. Jason BeDuhn describes The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures. He explains:

“I have just completed teaching a course for the Religious Studies Department of Indiana University, Bloomington, [U.S.A.] . . . This is primarily a course in the Gospels. Your help came in the form of copies of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures which my students used as one of the textbooks for the class. These small volumes were invaluable to the course and very popular with my students.”

Why does Dr. BeDuhn use the Kingdom Interlinear translation in his college courses? He answers:

“Simply put, it is the best interlinear New Testament available. I am a trained scholar of the Bible, familiar with the texts and tools in use in modern biblical studies, and, by the way, not a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. But I know a quality publication when I see one, and your ‘New World Bible Translation Committee’ has done its job well. Your interlinear English rendering is accurate and consistent to an extreme that forces the reader to come to terms with the linguistic, cultural, and conceptual gaps between the Greek-speaking world and our own. Your ‘New World Translation’ is a high quality, literal translation that avoids traditional glosses in its faithfulness to the Greek. It is, in many ways, superior to the most successful translations in use today.”

The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures is published by Jehovah’s Witnesses to help lovers of God’s Word get acquainted with the original Greek text of the Bible. It contains The New Testament in the Original Greek on the left-hand side of the page (compiled by B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort). A literal word-for-word English translation is found under the lines of Greek text. In the narrow right-hand column is the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, which allows you to compare the interlinear translation with a modern English translation of the Bible.

- February 1, 1998 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Additioanl Reading:


And now, in this year 1969 at the “Peace on Earth” International Assemblies of Jehovah’s Witnesses, there is released to the reading public The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures. This is a clothbound book of 1,184 pages. The Greek text that it uses is that prepared and published by Westcott and Hort in 1881. Underneath this is printed a literal word-for-word translation. In the right-hand column alongside on each page is presented the modern-day translation as found in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in a revised edition. However, in the interlinear literal translation of the Greek the English words are not taken bodily or directly from the New World Translation and placed under the appropriate Greek word. No! But under each Greek word is placed its basic meaning, according to its grammatical construction, whether this agrees literally with the New World Translation or not. What we as Bible students should want is what the original Greek text says. Only by getting this basic meaning can we determine whether the New World Translation or any other Bible translation is right or not.

For example, in Matthew 8:5 the New World Translation uses the expression “army officer” but in the interlinear translation under the Greek word you read “centurion,” because that is what the Greek text literally calls this army man. In Mark 6:21 the words “military commanders” are found, but under the Greek word you read “chiliarchs,” meaning a commander of a thousand soldiers, for that is what the Greek word literally calls this army officer. In Acts 19:41 the New World Translation has the word “assembly,” but the interlinear reading says “ecclesia,” like the Greek. In this particular verse it does not mean a “church” or “congregation,” as the word does elsewhere. Thus we learn more specific details.

The Kingdom Interlinear Translation contains and preserves for us both the Foreword and the Appendix as found in the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, as published in the year 1950. These two features are very vital, because The Kingdom Interlinear Translation contains footnotes that refer the reader to such Foreword and Appendix and also to an Explanation of the Symbols Used in the Marginal References. For instance, those footnotes will refer you to the Foreword in order that you may learn why, in the New World Translation, the divine name Jehovah appears in its translation of the Greek Scriptures.

Of course, the Westcott and Hort text does not contain God’s name Jehovah or Yahweh by itself. But in Revelation 19:1, 3, 4, 6 the Greek text does contain the word Hallelouiá and beneath this Greek word each time the interlinear translation renders it literally “Hallelujah.” This is really a Hebrew phrase and it means “Praise YOU Jah,” this word “Jah” being an abbreviation for Jehovah. Hence the New World Translation in the right-hand column renders it, “Praise Jah, YOU people!” In other places where the New World Translation uses the divine name Jehovah, the interlinear literal translation puts “God,” or “Lord,” or “the Lord,” under the corresponding words in the Westcott and Hort Greek text. But the footnotes show where Hebrew translations of the inspired Greek Scriptures use God’s name Jehovah in those places. The footnotes also show where even The Emphatic Diaglott uses the name Jehovah in a number of places in its modern-day translation, but not in the interlinear.

The English word “soul” is much misunderstood, most religious people thinking the Bible’s use of the word makes it mean that man has an immortal, invisible soul inside him that departs from the human body at death. With The Kingdom Interlinear Translation you can find out that this is not true, for the interlinear reading shows “soul” under wherever the Greek word psy‧khe′ occurs. In 1 Corinthians 2:14 and 15:44, 46 and elsewhere you will find in the interlinear the adjective form “soulical,” for the Greek word above is psy‧khy‧kos′, which the New World Translation renders as “physical,” not “psychic.” Matthew 10:28 speaks of the soul or psyche as being destroyed, and Revelation 16:3 speaks of the soul or psyche as dying. The human soul is not immortal.

The Kingdom Interlinear Translation plainly shows that the common Greek in which Jesus’ disciples wrote the inspired Greek Scriptures did not contain the indefinite articles “a” and “an.” How so? Because nowhere in the interlinear English translation will you find those indefinite articles. This is very important, for these indefinite articles can make a difference in meaning. For instance, there can be a difference between “God” and “a god,” can there not? Especially so in cases where the Greek uses the definite article “the” before the title “God.” In such cases, the interlinear will read “the God” (or “the god”). But in cases where the Greek expression “the God” refers to the one whom Trinitarians call “God the Father,” the interlinear readings of the translations produced by Samuel Bagster and Sons, Limited, omit the definite article “the” even though the Greek definite article is there in the text. The Emphatic Diaglott does not hesitate to put the word “the” under the Greek definite article when it occurs before the title “God.”

In this connection, let us take those controversial verses of John 1:1, 2, which the clergymen of Christendom resort to in order to prove their doctrine of a Trinity or One God in Three Persons, as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. In these verses the Greek term Logos means “Word.” So the Diaglott’s interlinear wording reads: “In a beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and a god was the Word. This was in a beginning with the God.” However, in its modern-language reading it drops the article “the” before “God” and puts the title “GOD” in all capital letters. Also, it drops the article “a” from before “beginning” and from before “god” and puts “the” before “beginning” and puts “god” with an initial “G,” thus, “God.” This way the modern-language rendering reads: “In the Beginning was the LOGOS, and the LOGOS was with GOD, and the LOGOS was God. This was in the Beginning with GOD.” So, only the kind of type used shows the difference between “the God” and “a god.”

Other Bible translations drop all use of the indefinite article “a” and insert the definite article before the word “beginning” and drop the definite article “the” before God. For example, the King James or Authorized Version reads: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.”—John 1:1, 2.

However, in its interlinear word-for-word rendering, The Kingdom Interlinear Translation reads: “In beginning was the Word, and the Word was toward the God, and god was the Word. This (one) was in beginning toward the God.” From this literal reading it is apparent that the writer, the apostle John, is speaking of two individuals and is showing that the one who was with the Other is different from that Other One. Hence the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures endeavors to show this difference and, with grammatical correctness and doctrinal correctness, it reads: “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was in [the] beginning with God.” To avoid saying “a, god,” other Bible translations like An American Translation and the one by Dr. James Moffatt say “divine”; and The New English Bible—New Testament says “what God was,” that is to say, “what God was, the Word was.” Thus even these Bible translations cannot be used to prove the Trinity doctrine.

Trinitarians have no grounds for complaining against this use of “a” before “god,” because all other Bible translations use the indefinite articles “a” and “an” hundreds of times before words although they are nowhere found in the original Greek text. Not only that, but those translations repeatedly insert the definite article “the” before certain words where it does not occur in the Greek. Take, for example, many cases of the word “spirit” or the words “holy spirit.” There are cases in the Greek text where the definite article “the” does not occur before those words. But the Trinitarian translators will slant their translation by inserting a “the” before “spirit” or “holy spirit,” to make it read “the spirit” and “the holy spirit.” In such cases they will also capitalize the word “Spirit” in order to give the reader the impression that it refers to some intelligent person, the Third Person of some Trinity.

In such cases The Kingdom Interlinear Translation, in its word-for-word translation, shows that there is no “the” there, and the New World Translation does not there insert a “the” or capitalize the word “spirit,” but lets it read plain “spirit,” and “holy spirit.” So, in Acts 6:3, the apostles say to the Jerusalem congregation: “Search out for yourselves seven certified men from among you, full of spirit and wisdom.” Then, in Matthew 3:11 John the Baptist says concerning the coming Jesus Christ: “That one will baptize you people with holy spirit and with fire.” This rendering of the Greek text agrees with the Bible truth that God’s spirit is his invisible active force that is used for a holy purpose, in a holy manner.

By means of his holy spirit God inspired the writing of all the Holy Scriptures. In 2Timothy 3:16 we read: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching.” But, instead of the words “inspired of God,” the interlinear word-for-word reading shows that the one Greek word here used means literally “God-breathed,” that is, breathed by God. As it were, God breathed upon the men whom he inspired to write the Holy Bible.

Back in the apostles’ days there were not too many handwritten copies of the Holy Scriptures at hand, neither were there books written about the Bible and in explanation of it. Hence much instruction in the Bible had to be done by reading Bible verses out loud to students and with explanations by word of mouth. So, in Galatians 6:6 we read: “Moreover, let anyone who is being orally taught the word share in all good things with the one who gives such oral teaching.” But the interlinear reading brings out the basic sense of the Greek words used respecting oral teaching by using the expressions “the (one) being sounded down to” and “the (one) sounding down.” This vividly shows that the sound of the teacher’s voice went down into the ears of his Bible student. This made the course of instruction one of oral teaching.


Many other cases could be here treated to show how The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures brings out the precise meaning in its word-for-word translation under the Greek text. Bible students who have the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish, besides English, will particularly be able to appreciate these points. They will appreciate how the New World Translation has endeavored to put God’s Word as contained in the original Greek into these languages with the “correct words of truth” in each language. No claim of divine inspiration is made for these translations in modern-day language. The translators had to do what even the inspired Bible writer, “the congregator,” King Solomon, had to do, and that is, search to “find the delightful words and the writing of correct words of truth.” (Eccl. 12:10) Nevertheless, in all this searching they have trusted in the guidance, not inspiration, of God’s holy spirit. Solomon indeed wrote his books in the Bible with “delightful words.” The translators tried to imitate him.

Because of digging down into the literal meaning of the original Bible language The Kingdom Interlinear Translation can serve as a safeguard against error in these days when many religious leaders are teaching twisted things, even twisting the written Word of God. Religious clergymen of Christendom come along and try to overawe sincere Bible students by claiming to know the original Bible language and therefore knowing what it actually says. But by going to The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, a student can go to the original Bible text and consult the interlinear literal translation of that language. Thus he can check as to whether what such domineering clergymen may say is true or not. In this way the student can be helped to put up a defense argument and safeguard himself against being misled from the Bible truth.

Although readers in English will get the most benefit from The Kingdom Interlinear Translation in a direct way, yet this new Bible help will be used by the owners, the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, in preparing its magazines, books, booklets, and other publications. Thus those not reading English will indirectly get the benefit thereof in those languages in which the Society’s literature is published. So all lovers of God’s written Word can thank him for this new Bible-study aid.

- November 15, 1969 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Excerpts: these segments are taken from a larger work. Read the full story in the March 22, 1987 Awake, pg. 10 -14, WTB&TS

How Knowing Greek Led Me to Know God

From Phillips Academy I went on to college, to Princeton. In my senior year I decided I wanted to teach, and after graduating, I did start at an Episcopal boys’ school, St. Paul’s, in New Hampshire. This was consistent with my background. Growing up, I was a longtime choirboy at the local Episcopal Church. In my area the respectable people were either Unitarian or Episcopalian. So I’d been steeped in the very High Church Episcopalianism but exposed to very little Biblical or spiritual understanding. The Bible was swallowed up in church formalism. Now at St. Paul’s I was immersed in it once again. Everybody—faculty and students—had to go to chapel every weekday and twice on Sunday.

I taught Latin and Greek there for four years. After my first year I got married to a young lady named Suzanne. The next three summers I studied for and got my master’s degree in Latin and Greek. While considering going for my doctoral degree, I received a letter from my old Greek mentor at Phillips Academy, Dr. Chase. “I’ve just had an opening in Andover,” he wrote. “I know you want to go to graduate school. But would you please come down and talk to us?” I did, and wound up teaching Greek there. I’ve taught there ever since . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

By this time I had started going to Witness meetings at the Kingdom Hall. Next I went from door to door with Arthur. One woman, a Baptist, gave me one of these little tracts about the Witnesses, supposedly exposing their errors. In several places it referred to the Greek. So I was curious: Just how knowledgeable were they in Greek. Within a few weeks I had acquired several more similar tracts to examine.

Most of them revolved around the Trinity. They assumed the Trinity to be true, then carefully selected their scholarly authorities to prove it. In fact, the attacks on Witness teachings often focused on the Trinity and on their New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. In Greek, as in English, some words can mean different things in different contexts. The English word “bow,” for instance, can be a courteous bow, a bow of ribbon, or a bow with which to shoot arrows.

In Bible study, however, you look not only at the context but also at other scriptures to see how the word is used in different settings. So you check to see whether you’re leaning on your assumptions or on the evidence. I noticed that these tract writers frequently manipulate the evidence, misrepresent it. On the other hand, the Society was quite honest in looking at all the evidence, all the possibilities, offering their conclusions, but then telling you to decide. After a careful examination of the points of controversy, I saw that the Society was right.

In some places the Trinitarians clearly manipulate the evidence. The classic example of this is, I guess, John 8:58. There Jesus said: “Before Abraham was, I am.” (King James Version) The Trinitarians pick up Jesus’ use of “I am” here and relate it to Jehovah’s statement to Moses in Exodus 3:14 (KJ), “I am that I am.” Because both Jesus and Jehovah used “I am,” they argue that this makes Jesus and Jehovah one. And the Greek root does say am in the present tense at John 8:58.

However, even their own theological grammar books acknowledge that where an expression of past time appears in the sentence, the present tense verb can sometimes be translated as if it has begun in past time and continues up to the present. This is also true in French and it is true in Latin. Hence, when the New World Translation says “I have been” instead of “I am,” it is translating the Greek correctly. (John 8:58) Yet the Trinitarians act as if ‘No, that’s not even possible!’ So I began to notice this misrepresentation of the evidence on the part of the detractors of the Society.

‘Well, since the Society’s scholarship is credible in the Greek,’ I reasoned, ‘must it not also be in its other writings?’ It was this that led me to study in earnest, which in turn led me to baptism in 1970.

The year before this, a publication was released by the Watch Tower Society entitled
The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures. It proved to be crucial for me. Perhaps more than any other single thing, it was instrumental in causing me to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In the left-hand column on each page is the original koine Greek text, and under each line is a literal translation of the Greek. In the right-hand column of each page, in modern-day English, is the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures.

Incidentally, right at the time when this publication came out, I was assigned to teach at Phillips Academy a course in New Testament Greek. Since I did not learn Greek from a theologian who was teaching New Testament Greek, I was probably much more objective about it. I could look at the words with fresh eyes, free of the traditional, doctrinal notions.

Such preconceptions can really give you eyes that don’t see and ears that don’t hear because if, as you do your research, you’re looking for something to confirm what you already believe, that’s all your eyes and ears will see or hear. Instead of looking to see ‘Well, what’s the whole case?’ they see only what can be used, or misused, to support their preconceptions.

Incidentally, most theologians that I’ve met are not strong in Greek. The quality of Greek scholarship in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, however, is very good. It’s the kind of thing that a person who really wants to work with the Greek, even though not knowing much Greek, can do a lot with. I feel it’s one of the greatly underappreciated jewels of the Watch Tower Society’s publications. - As told by, Nicholas Kip

BA, Princeton, MA, Trinity College, teaches at Phillips Academy


Coptic John 1:1c: What Conclusions Can Be Drawn?

Relative to Coptic John 1:1c, what conclusions can be drawn from a multi-year study of the Sahidic Coptic language, including a detailed study of the entire Sahidic Coptic New Testament?

1- That the translation of Coptic neunoute pe pSaje into standard English as "the Word was a god" is literal, accurate, and unassailable. It is simple, but not simplistic. It is what the Coptic text actually says and literally conveys. Any other translation of it amounts to interpretation or paraphrase.

2- That rendering a Sahidic Coptic common ("count") noun, like noute, god, when bound to the Coptic indefinite article, ou, into English as "a" + noun is so prevalent, as for example in Coptic scholar George Horner's 1911 English translation of the Sahidic Coptic New Testament, that this is beyond dispute.

As just the nearest example of this, after John 1:1c itself, is John 1:6. Here we have the Coptic indefinite article, ou, bound to the Coptic common noun rwme, man: aFSwpe nCi ourwme eautnnoouF ebol Hitm pnoute . In Horner's English translation we read: "There was a man having been sent from God." That is the simple, literal, and accurate translation. Likewise, "a god" is the simple, literal, and accurate translation of ou.noute at John 1:1c, the same Coptic indefinite article + common noun construction as found in John 1:6 and elsewhere. Only with respect to Coptic "mass" or abstract nouns is there no need to translate the indefinite article into English, but this is not the situation at Coptic John 1:1c, because noute, god, is a Coptic common or "count" noun.

3 - That, whereas some Coptic grammarians hold that ou.noute may also be translated into English adjectivally as "divine," they give no examples favoring this usage in the Sahidic Coptic New Testament itself. Coptic ou.noute is not used adjectivally or "qualitatively" in the Sahidic Coptic New Testament. The published works of these scholars have been heavily invested in the Nag Hammadi Gnostic Coptic "gospels" like Thomas, Philip, and Judas. Perhaps translating ou.noute as "divine" fits the esoteric or philosophical context of the Gnostic "gospels." But there are no examples in the canonical Coptic New Testament that justify an adjectival translation of ou.noute as "divine," whereas a literal translation of ou.noute as "a god" works just fine. Although "divine" is not altogether objectionable, since a god is divine by definition, a paraphrase is unnecessary when an adequate, understandable literal translation is available.

4- That all the primarily Trinitarian-based objections to translating ou.noute as "a god" at Coptic John 1:1c amount to little more than presupposition or special pleading. Though such faulty, superficial objections have been cut and pasted frequently on the Internet, they are poorly researched and often misleading.

In one such apologetic, promising full disclosure of what some Coptic scholars "really said," the conclusion about ou.noute at John 1:1 remains the same, i.e., "it might mean was a god, was divine, was an instance of 'god', was one god (not two, three, etc.)"; "In Coptic, "ounoute" can mean "a god" or "one with divine nature"; "So literally, the Sahidic and Bohairic texts say "a god" in the extant mss. ... A rather clumsy reading might be: The Logos was in the beginning. The Logos was with God. The Logos was like God (or godlike, or divine) with the emphasis on his nature; not his person."

Not ONE of the scholars appealed to by Trinitarian apologists said that Coptic John 1:1 should be translated to say "The Word was God." Not one. Not one said that "a god" was incorrect. In fact, the interlinear reading for Sahidic Coptic John 1:1c in scholar Bentley Layton's Coptic in 20 Lessons specifically reads "a-god is the-Word."

The Coptic text of John 1:1c was made prior to the adoption of the Trinity doctrine by Egyptian and other churches, and it is poor scholarship to attempt to "read back" a translation such as "the Word was God" into any exegesis of the Coptic text. Such a rendering is foreign to Coptic John 1:1c, which clearly and literally says, "the Word was a god."

5- That, stated succinctly, translating Sahidic Coptic's neunoute pe pSaje literally into standard English as "the Word was a god" stands on solid grammatical and contextual ground. -


Was the Word “God” or “a god”?

Also See:

THAT question has to be considered when Bible translators handle the first verse of the Gospel of John. In the New World Translation, the verse is rendered: “In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” (John 1:1) Some other translations render the last part of the verse to convey the thought that the Word was “divine,” or something similar. (A New Translation of the Bible, by James Moffatt; The New English Bible) Many translations, however, render the last part of John 1:1: “And the Word was God.”—The Holy Bible—New International Version; The Jerusalem Bible.

Greek grammar and the context strongly indicate that the New World Translation rendering is correct and that “the Word” should not be identified as the “God” referred to earlier in the verse. Nevertheless, the fact that the Greek language of the first century did not have an indefinite article (“a” or “an”) leaves the matter open to question in some minds. It is for this reason that a Bible translation in a language that was spoken in the earliest centuries of our Common Era is very interesting.

The language is the Sahidic dialect of Coptic. The Coptic language was spoken in Egypt in the centuries immediately following Jesus’ earthly ministry, and the Sahidic dialect was an early literary form of the language. Regarding the earliest Coptic translations of the Bible, The Anchor Bible Dictionary says: “Since the [Septuagint] and the [Christian Greek Scriptures] were being translated into Coptic during the 3d century C.E., the Coptic version is based on [Greek manuscripts] which are significantly older than the vast majority of extant witnesses.”

The Sahidic Coptic text is especially interesting for two reasons. First, as indicated above, it reflects an understanding of Scripture dating from before the fourth century, which was when the Trinity became official doctrine. Second, Coptic grammar is relatively close to English grammar in one important aspect. The earliest translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures were into Syriac, Latin, and Coptic. Syriac and Latin, like the Greek of those days, do not have an indefinite article. Coptic, however, does. Moreover, scholar Thomas O. Lambdin, in his work Introduction to Sahidic Coptic, says: “The use of the Coptic articles, both definite and indefinite, corresponds closely to the use of the articles in English.”

Hence, the Coptic translation supplies interesting evidence as to how John 1:1 would have been understood back then. What do we find? The Sahidic Coptic translation uses an indefinite article with the word “god” in the final part of John 1:1. Thus, when rendered into modern English, the translation reads: “And the Word was a god.” Evidently, those ancient translators realized that John’s words recorded at John 1:1 did not mean that Jesus was to be identified as Almighty God. The Word was a god, not Almighty God.

- November 1, 2008 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Why so many False Alarms?

The World’s End—How Near?

THE story is told of a boy who watched the sheep of the villagers. To stir up a bit of excitement, one day he cried out, “Wolf! Wolf!” when there was no wolf. The villagers rushed out with clubs to drive off the wolf, only to find that there was none. It was such great fun that later on the boy repeated his cry. Again the villagers rushed out with their clubs, only to discover that it was another false alarm. After that a wolf did come, and the boy sounded the warning, “Wolf! Wolf!” but the villagers dismissed his cry as another false alarm. They had been fooled too often.

So it has become with those who proclaim the end of the world. Down through the centuries since Jesus’ day, so many unfulfilled predictions have been made that many no longer take them seriously.

Gregory I, pope from 590 to 604 C.E., in a letter to a European monarch, said: “We also wish Your Majesty to know, as we have learned from the words of Almighty God in Holy Scriptures, that the end of the present world is already near and that the unending Kingdom of the Saints is approaching.”

In the 16th century, Martin Luther, progenitor of the Lutheran Church, predicted that the end was imminent. According to one authority, he stated: “For my part, I am sure that the day of judgment is just around the corner.”

Concerning one of the first Baptist groups, it is reported: “The Anabaptists of the early Sixteenth Century believed that the Millennium would occur in 1533.”

“Edwin Sandys (1519-1588), Archbishop of York and Primate of England . . . says, . . . ‘Let us be assured that this coming of the Lord is near.’”

William Miller, generally credited with founding the Adventist Church, is quoted as saying: “I am fully convinced that sometime between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844, according to the Jewish mode of computation of time, Christ will come.”

Does the failure of such predictions to come true convict as false prophets those who made them, within the meaning of Deuteronomy 18:20-22? That text reads: “The prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. And in case you should say in your heart: ‘How shall we know the word that Jehovah has not spoken?’ when the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak.”

There are some who make spectacular predictions of the world’s end to grab attention and a following, but others are sincerely convinced that their proclamations are true. They are voicing expectations based on their own interpretation of some scripture text or physical event. They do not claim that their predictions are direct revelations from Jehovah and that in this sense they are prophesying in Jehovah’s name. Hence, in such cases, when their words do not come true, they should not be viewed as false prophets such as those warned against at Deuteronomy 18:20-22. In their human fallibility, they misinterpreted matters.

Undeterred by previous failures, some seem to have been spurred on by the approach of the year 2000 and have made further predictions of the end of the world. The Wall Street Journal of December 5, 1989, published an article entitled “Millennium Fever: Prophets Proliferate, the End Is Near.” With the year 2000 approaching, various evangelicals are predicting that Jesus is coming and that the 1990’s will be “a time of troubles that has not been seen before.” At the time of this writing, the latest occurrence was in the Republic of Korea, where the Mission for the Coming Days predicted that on October 28, 1992, at midnight, Christ would come and take believers to heaven. Several other doomsday groups made similar predictions.

The flood of false alarms is unfortunate. They are like the wolf-wolf cries of the shepherd boy—people soon dismiss them, and when the true warning comes, it too is ignored. But why has there been such a tendency through the centuries and down to our day for false alarms to be sounded, as Jesus said they would be? (Matthew 24:23-26) Jesus, after telling his followers about different events that would mark his return, said to them, as we read at Matthew 24:36-42: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father. For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. . . . Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”

They were told not only to be on the watch and to be prepared but also to watch with eagerness. Romans 8:19 says: “For the eager expectation of the creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God.” Human nature is such that when we fervently hope and yearn for something and wait in eager expectation of it, a powerful temptation arises within us to see it at the door even when the evidence is insufficient. In our eagerness false alarms may be sounded.

What, then, will distinguish the true warning from the false ones? For the answer, please see the following article.


Jehovah’s Witnesses, in their eagerness for Jesus’ second coming, have suggested dates that turned out to be incorrect. Because of this, some have called them false prophets. Never in these instances, however, did they presume to originate predictions ‘in the name of Jehovah.’ Never did they say, ‘These are the words of Jehovah.’ The Watchtower, the official journal of Jehovah’s Witnesses, has said: “We have not the gift of prophecy.” (January 1883, page 425) “Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible.” (December 15, 1896, page 306) The Watchtower has also said that the fact that some have Jehovah’s spirit “does not mean those now serving as Jehovah’s witnesses are inspired. It does not mean that the writings in this magazine The Watchtower are inspired and infallible and without mistakes.” (May 15, 1947, page 157) “The Watchtower does not claim to be inspired in its utterances, nor is it dogmatic.” (August 15, 1950, page 263) “The brothers preparing these publications are not infallible. Their writings are not inspired as are those of Paul and the other Bible writers. (2 Tim. 3:16) And so, at times, it has been necessary, as understanding became clearer, to correct views. (Prov. 4:18)”—February 15, 1981, page 19. - March 22, 1993 Awake, WTB&TS

Additional Reading: Also See: ______________________________________________________________

Occasionally, The Watchtower (for example 1 April 1972) has referred to true Christians (not specifically to the writers of Watch Tower publications) as “prophets”. However, the word is placed in inverted commas, which shows that it is not meant literally. The 1972 article is simply drawing parallels between experiences in the life of the prophet Ezekiel and those of Christians today as they fulfil Christ’s commission to preach to all the nations. This sense of the word ‘prophecy’ is recognised by many ‘mainstream’ Christians., Billy Graham’s biography is called “A prophet with Honor”. Pope John Paul II spoke of ‘the ‘prophetic office’ of the People of God - meaning their responsibility to give a Christian witness
. ( In view of other comments (cited in the main article) in which the Society specifically repudiates prophet status, both before and after this article was published, attempts to use this article to demonstrate that the Watch Tower Society claims to be an inspired prophet are obviously misrepresenting the sense of the article.

Ridiculers in the last days, you know who you are, don't you!

“As for you, beloved ones, call to mind the sayings that have been previously spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, how they used to say to you: ‘In the last time there will be ridiculers, proceeding according to their own desires for ungodly things.’ These are the ones that make separations, animalistic men, not having spirituality.” (Jude 17-19) Beloved ones, this is now the second letter I am writing YOU, in which, as in my first one, I am arousing YOUR clear thinking faculties by way of a reminder, that YOU should remember the sayings previously spoken by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through YOUR apostles. For YOU know this first, that in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: “Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep [in death], all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.” (2 Peter 3: 1-4) ___________________________________________________________________

As we have been to some extent, by the grace of God, used in the ministry of the gospel, it may not be out of place to say here what we have frequently said in private, and previously in these columns,--namely, that while we appreciate the love, sympathy, confidence and fellowship of fellow-servants and of the entire household of faith, we want no homage, no reverence, for ourselves or our writings; nor do we wish to be called Reverend or Rabbi. Nor do we wish that any should be called by our name. The name of him who died for all--the name Christian--is quite sufficient to designate the spiritual sons of God, the true brethren of Christ; and whatsoever is more than this cometh of evil, of carnality, and tends toward more of the same. Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible, or on a par with the holy Scriptures. The most we claim or have ever claimed for our teachings is, that they are what we believe to be harmonious interpretations of the divine Word, in harmony with the spirit of the truth. And we still urge, as in the past, that each reader study the subjects we present in the light of the Scriptures, proving all things by the Scriptures, accepting what they see to be thus approved, and rejecting all else. It is to this end, to enable the student to trace the subject in the divinely inspired Record, that we so freely intersperse both quotations and citations of the Scriptures upon which to build. - Charles Taze Russell, December 15, 1896


Bible interpretation and 1975

While studying with Jehovah’s witnesses in the mid 1980’s I was surprised to hear from other associates (who weren’t to happy to hear of my newfound studies) that the witnesses had, in my associates words, “emphatically stated that the end would come in 1975”. I was sure this wasn’t the case since I had been going to meetings off and on with my mother throughout this time period and didn’t remember any cries of “Armageddon is nigh, etc…”. Yes, I would have been somewhat young at the time I know, but a discussion of “The End” would have caught my attention at my young age, I’m sure of it, I thought to myself sincerely. Well, my acquaintance at the time was a sincere non-denominational Pentecostal and he just knew I was involving myself with a false prophet because of this. And we all know what the bible says of false prophets, more or less that they are proven not to be of God (compare Duet 18:20-22). Yes, as far as he knew I was throwing my life away by involving myself with this group. As you might have guessed I was very disturbed by the whole thing and I just had to research this “stay alive till 75”, what did the society really say about it? Did they, in fact, “prophecy” the end for this time? You can imagine the quandary I found myself in. If the society was a false prophet I couldn’t accept it as the truth and I would simply have to move on to continue my search. But, maybe there was more to this than I knew at the time. What would I find? My future life would definitely be affected by what I would find and I knew it would be critical for me to learn the truth!

First of all, why the excitement over this year? As mentioned in my previous article on “1925”, God’s people have always had ones among them who, for whatever reason, want to know “the day and the hour” see- (Matthew 24:36)”. This is a general statement but seems to be true in my experiences. Some just have to know when the end is coming (si book pg 287 par 13). Remember that the apostles, in their youth, also were inquisitive about Jesus return. They wanted it right away, if possible (see Acts 1). So, it’s not shocking that God’s modern day servants would, from time to time, expect the end. This has occurred, by some, more or less, at certain dates such as 1914, 1925 and 1975 (see The Proclaimers book pg 104). But, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Jehovah’s people are not being used as God’s instrument on earth today. I will explain this fully in just a moment, but for now, why all the talk of 1975? This discussion, in print, began evidently around the years 1965-1966 with the release of a book entitled “Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God”. The book features a chart on pages 31-35 of Bible Chronology. The understanding at the time was that 6,000 years of mans existence would end in 1975. The book states on page 29, “According to this trustworthy Bible chronology six thousand years from man’s creation will end in 1975, and the seventh period of a thousand years of human history will begin the fall of 1975 C.E.”

The book goes on in par 42, page 29, “So in not many years within our own generation we are reaching what Jehovah God could view (italics mine-cgross) as the seventh day of man’s existence.” On page 30, par 43 it states, “How appropriate it would be for Jehovah God to make of this coming seventh period of a thousand years a Sabbath period of rest and release…It would be most fitting on God’s part, for, remember, mankind has yet ahead of it what the last book of the Holy Bible speaks of as the reign of Jesus Christ…for a thousand years.” “It would not be by mere chance or accident…for the reign of Jesus Christ…to run parallel with the seventh millennium of man’s existence.”

With statements like these, although few found in this publication, you could perhaps understand why there was an excitement stirring for 1975. In discussing this subject with older ones who were around at this tumultuous time I find that some areas (geographically speaking) were more prone to be liberal with their understanding than other areas that kept the reigns on this belief that 1975 would be “the end”. Some would mention even at the doors in their ministry work that “the end was coming in 1975”. This was not what the publication said however and some understandably found themselves stumbled when 1976 arrived and nothing had happened as they might have expected it to. When the publication was initially released it’s interesting to note what Brother Fred Franz said to a young man who asked him point blank, “Say, what does this 1975 mean?” Notice how the Proclaimers book goes on to explain Brother Franz’s candid response:

*** jv 104 8 Declaring the Good News Without Letup (1942-1975) ***

Brother Franz then referred to the many questions that had arisen as to whether the material in the new book meant that by 1975 Armageddon would be finished, and Satan would be bound. He stated, in essence: ‘It could. But we are not saying. All things are possible with God. But we are not saying. And don’t any of you be specific in saying anything that is going to happen between now and 1975. But the big point of it all is this, dear friends: Time is short. Time is running out, no question about that.’ I’ve highlighted the response that seems to “nip it in the bud”. Although for reasons of humility and the societies own appreciation to battle creature worship (worship of a personality or man) the society does not list the authors of the publications as they once did in earlier years. The understanding that Fred Franz was most likely the author though, or at least a contributor to the above publication is generally agreed upon and perhaps gives weight to the statement, “and don’t any of you be specific in saying anything that is going to happen between now and 1975”. Brother Franz was a member of the Bible Students (as they were then known) in 1914 and 1925 and no doubt personally knew the damage that could be caused by being dogmatic about dates of bible prophecy. The chronology was very interesting and could spark personal intrigue and excitement but none of God’s people should have been specific about saying anything about this date. But, some regrettably did and the effects were felt worldwide. For example see the experiences below with the references listed…

*** yb95 227 Mexico *** There Came a Time of Sifting There were strong expectations concerning the year 1975 and what it might mean in the fulfillment of Jehovah’s purpose. Some set their hearts on that date as the time when the old system would be destroyed and God’s new world would be established. When those expectations were not realized, there were some who ceased serving God. A number became apostates. But the vast majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses were motivated by love for Jehovah. They knew that God’s Word would never fail.

*** yb88 189-90 Korea *** A CAUSE FOR CONCERN “We hope the brothers are careful in their teaching. Evidently some were very strong on the 1975 date, and so a good foundation was not laid. The foundation, of course, should be faith in Christ Jesus and the ransom sacrifice, and the dedication should be with understanding.”

A very candid observation indeed! Too much emphasis was placed on a date by some Bible teachers. Many newly baptized ones took up the truth on a wave of emotion. Even some elders had their hopes pinned to 1975. … The effect: apathy among the brothers. The following are just a few recent articles on the effect of 1975 on two countries, namely Mexico and Korea. The societies very candid write-ups on these challenging times certainly educates us on the dangers of serving the true God for selfish reasons or a belief that the end is tailored to us somehow or our time schedule. This should never be the case and as the Korean example shows really courts disaster when a prospective Bible student has a “date” in mind for his Christian foundation instead of a strong faith in Christ. One contemporary author in his publication “Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended” states this on page 494 concerning 1975,

“Even though some in the organization may have put too great an emphasis on the chronology put forth by the Society, in print, the Society itself always maintained the proper outlook: “This is not the time to be toying with the words of Jesus that ‘concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens, nor the Son, but only the Father.’ (Matt 24:36)” Those who ignored this advice, and who served Jehovah only because they believed Armageddon would come in 1975, should have given closer attention to Jesus’ words, and to what the Society actually said, rather than allow a certain date to provide the impetus for their sacred service.”

Now, that we’ve discussed what was said. We might ask the question as posed at the outset of our discussion. How should we feel about what was printed in the “Life Everlasting” book. Remember the statements taken by themselves stirred much excitement and seemed responsible to some degree for ones believing that 1975 was the end. A comment from the Watchtower of March 15 1980 pgs 17-18 helps us keep this in perspective:

5 In modern times such eagerness, commendable in itself, has led to attempts at setting dates for the desired liberation from the suffering and troubles that are the lot of persons throughout the earth. With the appearance of the book Life Everlasting—in Freedom of the Sons of God, and its comments as to how appropriate it would be for the millennial reign of Christ to parallel the seventh millennium of man’s existence, considerable expectation was aroused regarding the year 1975. There were statements made then, and thereafter, stressing that this was only a possibility. Unfortunately, however, along with such cautionary information, there were other statements published that implied that such realization of hopes by that year was more of a probability than a mere possibility. It is to be regretted that these latter statements apparently overshadowed the cautionary ones and contributed to a buildup of the expectation already initiated.

6 In its issue of July 15, 1976, The Watchtower, commenting on the inadvisability of setting our sights on a certain date, stated: “If anyone has been disappointed through not following this line of thought, he should now concentrate on adjusting his viewpoint, seeing that it was not the word of God that failed or deceived him and brought disappointment, but that his own understanding was based on wrong premises.” In saying “anyone,” The Watchtower included all disappointed ones of Jehovah’s Witnesses, hence including persons having to do with the publication of the information that contributed to the buildup of hopes centered on that date. But, notice the counsel for us who might have been affected.

7 Nevertheless, there is no reason for us to be shaken in faith in God’s promises. Rather, as a consequence, we are all moved to make a closer examination of the Scriptures regarding this matter of a day of judgment. In doing so, we find that the important thing is not the date. What is important is our keeping ever in mind that there is such a day—and it is getting closer and it will require an accounting on the part of all of us. Peter said that Christians should rightly be “awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.” (2 Pet. 3:12) It is not a certain date ahead; it is day-to-day living on the part of the Christian that is important. He must not live a single day without having in mind that he is under Jehovah’s loving care and direction and must submit himself thereto, keeping also in mind that he must account for his acts.

It can be seen that the Watchtower has always been very honest when it comes to a discussion of the false hopes concerning 1975 and other dates. This candor alone helps some appreciate that the organization has One for its backer, Jehovah God. But for others, it might be noted that there is a difference between interpreting Bible prophecy and uttering new prophecies based, not on the bible, but on a personal dream, vision or discussions with God. Jehovah’s witnesses do not claim to have these “dreams, visions, or discussions” with God today as some of the Bible characters of times past have had. The Witnesses do however endeavor to interpret Bible prophecy. That is, prophecy already written under inspiration of God’s holy spirit and recorded in his holy word. Other denominations, such as Mormons, actually have “Prophets” that utter “prophecies” based on things other than God’s holy word , this is not the case with Jehovah’s Witnesses. If Jehovah’s Witnesses are to be accused of anything, rather than being called false prophets, they could be blamed for thinking the end is near, and teaching such. Actually we are taught through the pages of the Bible to keep this mental attitude.

Note Jesus own words in Matthew 24:42 as quoted below: 42 Keep on the watch, therefore, because YOU do not know on what day YOUR Lord is coming.

May we all the keep awake, with a solid foundation. Not a foundation based on a date or hour, but a foundation of faith in Christ, loyalty to his Father, Jehovah, and appreciation for where we are in the stream of time. The hour is advanced and Satan’s old system is ever closer to its ultimate demise. Let us not allow Satan to stumble any one of us. Let us also be humble knowing that any one of us could fall. We don’t know the tests that might come upon us shortly, but it certainly will be greater than the “sifting” that occurred over 1975. If that date stumbled some, might we be stumbled by something else in the future if we are not prepared now. Let us move forward then, always building on to our Christian faith so that we may come of victorious and not allowing our adversary to be the victor.