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Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Exercise Faith" / "Believe" and the New World Translation

Notice how John 3:16 is rendered in the New American Standard Bible:

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

Most Bibles use the word "believe" here. Now notice John 3:16 in the New World Translation Bible:

"For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life."

Some have condemned the New World Translation for rendering `exercise faith' here instead of `believe.'" Yet the word usually translated `believe' in many Bibles (pisteuo) may honestly be rendered `exercise faith', which implies certain action on the part of the believer. For example, the highly reputed (and highly "orthodox") Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, (Abridged in One Volume) tells us:

I. The OT Legacy. OT faith corresponds to Gk. pisteuein inasmuch as both involve trust in persons and belief in words (including God and his word). The OT term, however, carries a stronger element of acknowledgment and obedience. - p. 852.

II. General Christian Usage.

1. Continuation of the OT and Jewish Tradition.
[8] b. pisteuo as "to obey." Heb. 11 stresses that to believe is to obey, as in the OT. Paul in Rom. 1:18; 1 Th. 1:8 (cf. Rom. 15:18; 16:19) shows, too, that believing means obeying. He speaks about the obedience of faith in Rom. 1:5, and cf. 10:3; 2 Cor. 9:13. - pp. 853, 854, Eerdmans Publ., 1985.

And Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 511, also tells us:

[pisteuo] .... g. used especially of the faith by which a man embraces Jesus, i.e. a conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah .... conjoined with obedience to Christ - Baker Book House, 1977.

So, even some of the most respected New Testament scholars admit that pisteuo includes the idea of obedience with belief! This requires belief in and acceptance of Christ's sacrifice on our behalf and action on the part of the believer. There are many things true believers must do and must not do. Doing (or not doing the forbidden things) certainly does not earn salvation. But not acting in obedience to the word of God may well prevent you from receiving the free gift of salvation.

There is clearly and obviously an inseparable union between true faith and actions on the part of the true Christian. As James 2:14-26 tells us:

What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? .... Even so, faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. .... You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? .... For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. - NASB.

Notice, "just as the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead"! Faith and works (or active obedience to the word of God) are just as inseparable as the body and spirit are inseparable in a living man! When this faith is spoken of, then, it certainly should not be considered dishonest to translate it with that understanding: "exercise faith." (See the FAITH study paper; Search For Bible Truths)
The following is from the 12/1/90 Watchtower, Questions From Readers:

Why does the New World Translation at times render the Greek word pi·steu´o as “believe” (like most translations) and at other times as “exercise [or put] faith in”?

This is done to reflect different shades of meaning that are expressed by the Greek word pi·steu´o.

For example, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, by James Moulton, notes that early Christians clearly recognized “the importance of the difference between mere belief . . . and personal trust.” Both these thoughts can be expressed using the Greek word pi·steu´o.

Often, the different shades of meaning of pi·steu´o must be discerned from the context. At times, though, different grammatical constructions help us to see what the writer had in mind. For example, if pi·steu´o is followed merely by a noun in the dative case, the New World Translation usually renders it simply as “believe”—unless the context indicates something different. (Matthew 21:25, 32; but see Romans 4:3.) If pi·steu´o is followed by the word e·pi´, “on,” it is generally rendered “believe on.” (Matthew 27:42; Acts 16:31) If it is followed by eis, “to,” it is usually translated “exercise faith in.”—John 12:36; 14:1.

This latter rendering (which reminds us that pi·steu´o is related to the Greek word pi´stis, “faith”) is in harmony with a comment in An Introductory Grammar of New Testament Greek, by Paul Kaufman. This work says: “Another construction which is common in the New Testament (especially in John’s Gospel) is ??????? [pi·steu´o] with ??? [eis] and the accusative case . . . The whole construction of ??? plus the accusative must be translated rather than attempting to translate the preposition ??? as an isolated word. Faith is thought of as an activity, as something men do, i.e. putting faith into someone.” - 12/1/90 Watchtower; Questions From Readers

Monday, August 27, 2012

Searching For Topics at the New Official Website of Jehovah's Witnesses / Features of the Watchtower ONLINE LIBRARY

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

“This Means” or “This Is”? - "Estin" at Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, and Luke 22:19

Mt. 26:26, in the New International Version says:

"While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."'

Mt. 26:26, in the New World Translation says:

"As they continued eating, Jesus took a loaf and, after saying a blessing, he broke it and, giving it to the disciples, he said: “TAKE, eat. This means my body.”'

Though many Bibles read like the New International Version by using the word "is" here, many have attempted to portray the New World Translation AS IF IT IS THE ONLY TRANSLATION that uses the word "means" ("estin" in Greek) instead of "is" at Mt. 26:26.

However, notice these other translations:

The New Testament - A Translation by William Barclay (1968) reads at Matthew 26:26,

"During the meal Jesus took a loaf. He said the blessing over it,and broke it into pieces, and gave it to his disciples.'Take! Eat!' he said. 'This MEANS my body.' "

The Authentic New Testament by Hugh J. Schonfield (1956):

"...Take, eat; this SIGNIFIES my body."

A New Translation of the Bible by James Moffatt (impression of 1948):

"Take and eat this, it MEANS my body."

In it's translational notes, The Translator's New Testament (1973) reads:

"This saying is interpreted in different ways in different parts of the Church. In the original context the word "is" can only mean 'stand for', 'represents', as Jesus' actual body was there in it's physical form. Compare the use of 'is' in Matt. 13:38; Lk. 8:11; 1 Cor. 11:24,25 and many other places, WHEN IT MEANS 'REPRESENT' OR 'STANDS FOR'. In Mat 26:26 and parallels, however, T[ranslator's] T[estament] has retained the literal translation 'is.' "

It is true that the Greek word e·stin´ a form of the Greek verb “to be,” essentially means “is” and some Bible translations render Mt. 26:26 as “this is” instead of "this means". But the same verb can also mean “signify.” Interestingly, in many versions of the Bible, this verb is frequently translated “mean” or “stand for”. IT IS THE CONTEXT that determines the most precise rendering. For instance, at Matthew 12:7, e·stin´ is rendered “means” in many Bible translations: “If you had known what this means [Greek, e·stin]: I want mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the blameless.”—CEI; Douay Version.

Besides, Jesus could not have meant that his followers were literally to eat his flesh and drink his blood because throughout human history, God consistently made it clear for humans to abstain from blood. God began with commanding Noah and his family to abstain from blood. (Gen. 9:4) He repeated this through the Mosaic law (Lev. 7:26, 27; 17:10, 11, 13, 14) and He continued to remind us through the pages of the New Testament. (Acts 15:28, 29; Acts 15:19, 20)

Jesus would never institute an observance that would require his followers to violate a sacred decree of Almighty God.

Clearly, then, Jesus used the bread and wine as symbols. The unleavened bread meant, or represented, his sinless body that would be sacrificed. The red wine signified his blood that would be poured out “in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.” —Matthew 26:28

Also see:

“This Means” or “This Is”? (w08 4/1 pp. 26-29; Watchtower Online Library)

"Estin" at Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, and Luke 22:19  (In Defense of the New World Translation)

"Is" Translated as "Means" (Defending the NWT)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rev. 20:13,14 - How Can Death and Hades be Thrown Into the "Lake of Fire"? What Does This Scripture Mean?

Rev. 20:13,14 says,

"The sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire." (KJV)

Some have asked, "How is it possible for Death and Hell to be thrown into a lake of fire and what does this mean?

What Really is "Hell"?

First, it would be beneficial to understand what "Hell" (Hades; Sheol) in the Bible really means.

Many mistakenly believe that "hell" is a fiery place of punishment for sins. But the word "hell" in the same verses in other translations read "the grave," "the world of the dead," etc.

Collier’s Encyclopedia (1986, Vol. 12, p. 28) says this concerning “Hell”:

“First it stands for the Hebrew Sheol of the Old Testament and the Greek Hades of the Septuagint and New Testament. Sheol in Old Testament times referred SIMPLY TO THE ABODE OF THE DEAD.”

So the Hebrew word she'ohl´ and its Greek equivalent hai´des refer, not to an individual burial place, but to the COMMON GRAVE OF DEAD MANKIND. (For more, see: "Why is the word "Hell" an unsatisfactory translation of the original Hebrew and Greek Bible words "She´ohl" and "Hai´des"?"; Search For Bible Truths)

Revelation Chapter 20 Written in Figurative or Symbolic Terms

The book of Revelation is a book full of symbols and Revelation Chap. 20 itself is full of figurative (not literal) language. So when the rest of the Bible clearly shows how when someone dies, they are not conscious of anything (Ps. 146:4; Ecclesiastes 9:5) and that the condition of the dead is one of inactivity - likened to a deep sleep (Ps. 13:3; John 11:11-14; Acts 7:60; 1 Cor. 7:39; 15:51; 1 Thess. 4:13), it would seem reasonable to conclude that what was written at Revelation chap. 20 is indeed phrased in figurative or symbolic terms.

Rev. 20:14 shows that Hell is not the same as the lake of fire. So when Hell (Hades) is finally CAST INTO the lake of fire (which symbolizes eternal destruction), this means that Hades, the common grave of mankind, is totally destroyed. It goes out of existence, being completely emptied of its dead. In addition to resurrecting all faithful worshipers of God, the Bible says that He will also mercifully bring back even unrighteous ones:

“There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15)

Recommended Related Article:

How Does Learning the Truth About Hell Affect You? (w08 11/1 pp. 8-9; Watchtower Online Library)

Also see: Hell - Links to Information (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

Monday, August 20, 2012

1 Timothy 2:5 - How Can Jesus Possibly Be God Himself When Scripture says that Jesus is Mediator Between Man and God?

1 Timothy 2:5 says that Jesus is the “one mediator between God and men”.

Since by definition a mediator is someone separate from those who need mediation, it would be a contradiction for Jesus to be one entity with either of the parties he is trying to reconcile. That would be a pretending to be something he is not. So since 1 Timothy 2:5 explicitly states that Jesus is a "mediator" between God and men, this separates Jesus from the entity God and places him between the Deity and us, not equal with God.

As Bar_Anerges so eloquently put it:

"Those who are indoctrinated in the Trinitarian "word magic" will mentally redefine the word "God" in these cases to mean "the Father" or just one of the "persons" instead of the collective Godhead. This is because while the Trinity can separate the Father from Christ it cannot have Christ separated from "GOD." But if Christ were equal to, and the same as Almighty God, he could NEVER be distinguished from *"God"* in any sense." (Entire answer from Bar_Anerges can be found here.)

The Bible is clear and consistent about the relationship of God to Jesus. Jehovah God alone is Almighty. He created the prehuman Jesus directly. (John 1:18; Rev. 3:14; Col. 1:15) Therefore, Jesus had a beginning and could never be coequal with God in power or eternity. (Micah 5:2; 1 Cor. 11:3)

Also see:
“The Mediator of a New Covenant” (Examination of 1 Timothy 2:5, 6 in the w08 12/15 found at the Watchtower Online Library.)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Genesis 5:24 - What Does it Mean That "God Took Him"? Did Enoch Really Go To Heaven?

Many people teach that Enoch did not die but instead went straight to heaven. To come to this conclusion they force their own meaning into the somewhat obscure language, but ignore explicit statements in Scripture.

First, the Bible is very explicit about what happened to Enoch. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews mentions Enoch among many other faithful. Then in verse thirteen it clearly states: "All these died in faith." In verse 39 it states that “none of these received the promise.” Obviously, this could not have been said if Enoch had gone to heaven.

Genesis 5:24 states: "Then Enoch walked with God, and he was no more, for God took him." It explicitly states that Enoch “was no more.” His existence ceased. If you read the context you cannot fail to understand that this means Enoch died: Verse 23 states: "That the whole lifetime of Enoch was three hundred and sixty-five years." It doesn’t say “his lifetime on earth was...” but it said “his whole lifetime.” When it says Enoch “walked with God” it doesn’t mean that he literally went to heaven with God. It just means that Enoch lived a righteous life just as Noah “walked with God” (Gen. 6:10).

When it says "God took him," it means that God took his breath of life and he died. We still say God “took” someone when we mean the person died. The Hebrew word translated "took" (LAQAH) can mean taken in death. For example Ezekiel 33:6 says: "But if the watchman sees the sword coming and fails to blow the warning trumpet, so that the sword comes and takes (LAQAH) anyone, I will hold the watchman responsible for that person's death, even though that person is taken (LAQAH) because of their own sin."

When we try and say Enoch went to heaven we cause a contradiction in God’s Word. John 3:13 explicitly states that no one went to heaven before Christ, and other scriptures that say Jesus was the"first" of those resurrected from the dead to heaven. (Cf. Ac.2:34, 26:23, Rev.20:4-6). If Enoch (really) went to heaven then (that would be assuming) that Jesus was wrong in John 3:13.

Also, Romans 5:12 states that death came to all men, and that includes Enoch.

When we take the Scriptures in context and stop forcing some personal theology into the words, the only reasonable conclusion is that Enoch died.

Source: This is the chosen Best Answer by Bar_Anerges to this question from Yahoo! Answers.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

When Lazarus Died, Why Didn't Jesus Say That He Went to Heaven?

Do all good persons go to heaven? Well, when Lazarus died, if he really went to heaven, would it make any sense for Jesus to resurrect Lazarus and essentially recall him back from heaven to his physical body on Earth? Would Jesus really be doing him a favor? (Also see: Do all good persons go to heaven? Search For Bible Truths;  If God intended for us to live in heaven and not on earth, why did He not create us there? Search For Bible Truths)

The fact is that Jesus knew full well the condition of the dead which is what the Bible consistently tells us - that the dead are “conscious of nothing at all.” (Eccl. 9:5, 10; Ps. 146:4) That is why death is like sleep and why Jesus likened Lazarus' state to sleep:

"After he had said this, he went on to tell them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up." His disciples replied, "LORD, if he sleeps, he will get better." Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead." (John 11:11-14) - NIV

Notice other occurrences in the Bible where death is likened to sleep:

"Consider [and] answer me, O Jehovah my God: Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the [sleep of] death." (Ps. 13:3) - ASV

"And they stoned Stephen...And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep" ("he died" NRS; NLT; NWT). (Acts 7:59, 60) - KJV

"A wife is married to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies ("sleep", Young's Literal Translation; "fallen asleep", Darby), she is free to marry whomever she wishes, but this must be a marriage acceptable to the Lord." (1 Cor. 7:39) - NLT

"But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. Not all of us will die ("sleep", ASV; ESV; RSV KJV; NKJV; NIV), but we will all be transformed." (1 Cor. 15:51) - NLT

"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died ("asleep", NIV; KJV; NKJV; NRV; ASV; Young's), so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope." (1 Thess. 4:13) - NRS

The Bible likens death to sleep whether it be of a man or of an animal:

The psalmist wrote: “At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, Both chariot and horse are cast into a deep sleep ("dead sleep"; NAS; KJV; NKJV)." (Ps. 76:6) - ASV

So when we die we are said to “sleep” because due to Christ’s ransom sacrifice there is the hope of a resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:22) Were it not for God’s purpose to awaken persons from the sleep of death, they would never wake up. (See Job 14:10-15 and Jer. 51:39, 57)

As recalled above, when Lazarus died, Jesus said: “I am journeying there to awaken him from sleep.” Like Lazarus, the Bible talks about a promised hope in the future for us:

"The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear [Jesus'] voice and come out." (John 5:28, 29)

"There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous." -Acts 24:15.

For more, see:

Death - Links to Information (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

Resurrection - Links to Information (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rev. 5:6 and Rev. 5:13 "Throne"

Rev. 5:6 and Rev. 5:13

"Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne [of God]." - Rev. 5:6, NIV.

Some trinitarians also imply that the slain Lamb (obviously the heavenly-resurrected Christ) must be God because he is in the middle of God's throne in this verse.

There is never any doubt that the one seated on God's throne in Rev. 4 and 5 is God.

"They [the 24 elders] lay their crowns before the throne and say: `You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things." - Rev. 4:10, 11 NASB.

But the Lamb is never called God, nor does he sit on the throne of God in these two chapters. He approaches God, and is clearly differentiated from God:

"To him who sits on the throne [God] and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory...." Rev. 5:13, NASB.

So why is the Lamb standing in the center of the throne of God? Well here is how it reads in the original Greek: "And I saw in midst of the throne (en meso tou thronou) ... lamb standing...." Thayer tells us of this NT Greek word meso:

"in midst of, i.e. in the space within, tou thronou [`the throne'] (which must be conceived of as having a semicircular shape [c-shaped]: Rev. iv. 6; v. 6."

Thayer continues with an explanation of Rev. 5:6 that meso means

"between the throne and the four living creatures and the elders (i.e. in the vacant space between the throne and the living creatures [on one side] and elders [on the other side], accordingly nearest the throne." - p. 402, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Baker Book House.

Highly trinitarian New Testament expert A. T. Robertson also takes this to mean "before" or in front of the throne. - Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. vi, p. 328.

Accordingly, many modern trinitarian translations use "between" here (rather than "in the center of"): "between the throne and the four living creatures"- (1) RSV, (2) The Jerusalem Bible, (3) NASB, (4) NAB (1970 ed.), (5) NRSV, (6) The Amplified Bible (1965), (7) MLB (1969), (8) Beck's The Holy Bible in the Language of Today (1976), (9) C. B. Williams' New Testament in the Language of the People (1963), (10) REB, (11) Living Bible.

But no matter how you wish to translate en meso tou thronou, it is obvious that the Lamb's being there does not make him God. Simply look at Rev. 4:6 and the complete Rev. 5:6. We see in Rev. 4:6 that the four living creatures are en meso tou thronou just as the lamb is in 5:6! If that means the Lamb is God, then it also means the four living creatures are God!

A further examination of Rev. 4:6 reveals this additional information concerning "en meso tou thronou" and the throne of God. These 4 living creatures ("beasts" - KJV) are "in the midst of the throne and around the throne." This could mean that they are positioned around the throne so that each one is standing in the center of each side. For that reason, the translators of TEV and GNB translated it:

"surrounding the throne on each of its sides." CBW and Beck both translate: "in the middle of each side of the throne." (Cf. RSV, MLB, and LB.)

This understanding and these renderings by modern trinitarian Bibles correlate well with Ezekiel's vision of Jehovah's throne at Ezek. 1:15-22 where the 4 living creatures (Cherubs) are stationed at each corner of the throne (or chariot which supports the throne).

It could also mean the four living creatures are in the central position in heaven (or in the throne room) where the throne of God is located. For this reason, The Jerusalem Bible reads: "in the center, grouped around the throne itself."

The above gives us good evidence for determining what en meso tou thronou may mean for the position of the Lamb in Rev. 5:6.

Or merely examine all of the scripture in question. Rev. 5:6 reads literally in the Greek:

"And I saw in midst of the throne [en meso tou thronou] and of the four living [creatures] and in midst of [en meso] the older persons lamb having stood as having been slaughtered."

Again we see the four living creatures in the "midst" of the throne, and also the Lamb is in the "midst" of the 24 elders. The 24 elders, then, must also be in the "midst" of the throne with Jesus. So, this trinitarian "evidence" means the 24 elders are God too!

Let's examine the scriptural visions of God on his throne in a little more detail.

Ezekiel's inspired vision of God on his throne shows these details:

"From the midst of it [the vision of fire] came the likeness of four living creatures [Cherubs, angels]. And this was their appearance: they had the form of men, but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings." - Ezek. 1:5, 6, RSV.

Notice that Ezekiel tells us that these 4 Cherubs at the 4 corners of God's throne (Ezek. 1:26) look just like men except for 4 faces (and wings) which are further described in verses 10, 11. We know, therefore, exactly what they looked like. Any significant variation from a man's likeness has been carefully explained by Ezekiel.

Now look at the description of God himself as Ezekiel continues his vision. Ezekiel again tells us that "seated above the...throne was a likeness as it were of a human form." - Ezek. 1:26, RSV. And again Ezekiel describes all the significant differences from the appearance of a man (v. 27): brightness, gleaming like glowing bronze, fiery appearance from the waist down. Except for these significant differences the vision of God looks like a man! Not three persons; not a man with three heads; not a man with three faces, etc. but just like a man! IF God were 3 persons, Ezekiel's vision surely would have given us some indication of that (such as his description in this very same vision of the 4 aspects of each of the 4 Cherubs shown figuratively by 4 distinctive faces for each person which he gave just before this description of God).

But, instead, we are shown the one person, like a man seated on God's throne whereas trinitarians should be insisting that three equal persons should be somehow represented there!

"This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Jehovah." - Ezekiel 1:28, ASV and The King James II Version, Fourth Ed.

We see the same thing in the throne vision of Rev. 4 & 5 and 19:4.

"lo, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne! And he who sat there [the Lamb later approaches this one - vv. 6, 7] appeared like jasper and carnelian and round the throne was a rainbow...." - Rev. 4:2, 3, RSV.

Obviously this is a single person who differs from the likeness of a man only in the brilliant, glowing colors of his person. (Notice that John doesn't hesitate to describe the figurative details of the 4 cherubs as they differ from human likenesses - as did Ezekiel above - in vv. 6, 7 and even describes a figurative 7-headed beast of his own in Rev. 13:1.) But John, who is, of course, very familiar with the figurative descriptions of Ezekiel (4-faced person) and Daniel (4-headed beast) uses nothing (figurative or literal) to represent God as anything more than a single person!

This single person on the throne is obviously the only true God, the creator (Rev. 4:10, 11 - see The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 3, p. 588) and this does not include the person of Jesus Christ: "Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb." - Rev. 7:10, RSV. ("All glory to him who alone is God, who saves us through Jesus Christ our Lord" - Jude 25, Living Bible. - cf. John 17:1, 3, NEB.)

This one person, with the likeness of a man, seated upon the throne is worshiped by those in heaven as Jehovah God!

"and the 24 elders and the 4 living creatures fell down and worshiped God who is seated on the throne, saying, `Amen, Hallelujah!'" - Rev. 19:4, RSV.

"Hallelujah," as is well known, means "Praise Jehovah." (Today's Dictionary of the Bible; Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, etc.)

Notice Rev. 21:3, 5.

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne. [So this must be God, right? - - - Wrong!], saying, `Behold the tabernacle of God is among men and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His peoples, and God Himself shall be among them.'"

Now notice in verse 5:

"And He who sits on the throne said, `Behold I am making all things new.'" - NASB.

We see that although the first voice was from the throne, it was still not from God. The second voice was from the one who sits on the throne (God).

Another vision of God in heaven is noteworthy. "Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw God's glory and Jesus standing at the right side of God." - Acts 7:55, TEV.

Please note: God is a single person here who is not Jesus Christ. If it had said, "Stephen ... saw God's glory. Yes, he saw Jesus standing at the right side of the Father," then we could accept one possible interpretation as Jesus and the Father both being God. (But why isn't the "person" of the Holy Spirit standing here also - or in any other vision of God in heaven?) But as it's worded by the inspired Bible writer, this is simply not a permissible interpretation.

Yes, we never see God represented in visions, dreams, etc. as more than one person (and this person is never Jesus or the Holy Spirit). Whenever personality can be determined, the person shown to be God in heaven is always the Father, Jehovah alone.

We never find the word "trinity" (or anything remotely equivalent) used by the Bible writers. We don't even find the word "three" used to describe God in any sense! ("God is three;" "There is only one God in three persons;" "Jehovah is three;" etc.) This alone makes the "evidence" for a trinity totally incredible and completely unacceptable! - see the IMAGE study.

So we find, as usual, that the evidence for a Trinity is so ambiguous, so indirect, that the same type of "evidence" can be used to "prove" that many others are "God" - see the "TRIN-TYPE" study. This simply cannot be! Anything of such essential importance to man's salvation and God's true worship cannot be so inconclusive.

Can we imagine that other teachings of such essential importance to man's salvation could be so vague? Just look at the massive number of straight-forward statements that openly declare that Jesus is the Messiah! He is our Savior, and we had better believe it if we want to please God and receive life!

We don't have to add up little bits and pieces, hints, strained interpretations, and vague references to patch together a life-saving doctrine. God clearly and repeatedly reveals the necessities for life.

For more, see:
Exposing the False Reasoning Behind Trinity Proof Texts  (Examining the Trinity)

Trinity Index (Examining the Trinity)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Does the Bible Mention Dinosaurs?

The Bible says that God made "flying creatures" and "great sea monsters" in the fifth era listed in Genesis. The Hebrew expression translated “great sea monsters” [Hebrew, tan·ni·nim′] could have included dinosaurs, which often inhabited swampy, watery areas. And perhaps other types of dinosaurs were created in the sixth epoch. The vast array of dinosaurs with their huge appetites would have been appropriate considering the abundant vegetation that evidently existed in their time. (Genesis 1:20-24)

And even if one were to simply reject the above, does the Bible really have to mention something in order for it to have existed? Since the Bible is not a biography manual, specifically naming every living creature really was not necessary. But, in actuality, the Bible did say that God created all living "creatures" (animals, living things) and dinosaurs would certainly have been in that category.

For more, see:
Dinosaurs - Links to Information

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Is Tithing a Biblical Requirement for Christians Today?

Tithing is not a Biblical requirement for Christians today.

It is true that the commandment to tithe a tenth of the produce of the land was part of the Law that God gave to the 12 tribes of ancient Israel more than 3,500 years ago. (Leviticus 27:30, 32; Numbers 18:21, 24) But the Bible states categorically that the sacrificial death of Jesus, in 33 C.E., "blotted out," or "abolished," the Law and with it the "commandment to collect tithes." (Colossians 2:13, 14; Ephesians 2:13-15; Hebrews 7:5, 18)

Rather than specifying an amount or a percentage, the apostle Paul merely suggested that "on the first day of every week, each one . . . should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income." (1 Corinthians 16:2, NIV) By planning and reserving an amount on a regular basis, the Corinthians would not feel pressured into giving begrudgingly or on emotional impulse when Paul arrived. For each Christian, the decision of how much to give was to be a private matter, one that 'he had resolved in his own heart.' (2 Corinthians 9:5, 7)

Something else to consider is that the early Church Fathers did not teach tithing:

"The wealthy among us help the needy . . . They who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit."—The First Apology, Justin Martyr, c. 150 C.E.

"The Jews had indeed the tithes of their goods consecrated to Him, but those who have received liberty set aside all their possessions for the Lord's purposes, . . . as that poor widow acted who cast all her living into the treasury of God."—Against Heresies, Irenaeus, c. 180 C.E.

"Though we have our treasure-chest, it is not made up of purchase-money, as of a religion that has its price. On the monthly day, if he likes, each puts in a small donation; but only if it be his pleasure, and only if he be able: for there is no compulsion; all is voluntary."—Apology, Tertullian, c. 197 C.E.

"As the Church expanded and various institutions arose, it became necessary to make laws which would insure the proper and permanent support of the clergy. The payment of tithes was adopted from the Old Law . . . The earliest positive legislation on the subject seems to be contained in the letter of the bishops assembled at Tours in 567 and the [canons] of the Council of Macon in 585."—The Catholic Encyclopedia.

A Religion That Does Not Collect Tithes

Some have expressed surprise when they discover a religion where there are no tithes, no collection plates and no collections are ever taken at their meetings.

The work of Jehovah's Witnesses is primarily financed through anonymous, voluntary contributions, as was true with the early Christians. (2 Cor. 8:12; 9:7)

Any donations from interested persons are used to further the worldwide work of Bible education conducted by the Witnesses.

For more concerning this, see:

How are Jehovah's Witnesses Funded?; Jehovah's Witnesses Official Media Website)

How Is It All Financed? - Not Serving for Personal Gain (Jehovah's Witnesses Questions and Answers; Excerpt from the Proclaimers Book - jv chap. 21 pp. 350-351 How Is It All Financed?)

How is the work of Jehovah's Witnesses financed? (Search For Bible Truths)

For more about tithing, see:
Religion - How Should It Be Financed? Giving That Brings Joy (w02 12/1 pp. 4-7; Watchtower Online Library)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Acts 20:28 ("God...with his own blood")

Acts 20:28  ("God...with his own blood")
Trinitarians, for obvious reasons, prefer this translation of Acts 20:28 - "... to shepherd ["feed" in some translations] the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." - NASB.  This certainly seems to be excellent evidence for a "Jesus is God" doctrine.

But there are 2 major uncertainties about the proper translation of Acts 20:28.  Either one of those uncertainties completely nullifies any trinitarian "evidence" proposed for this Scripture!

First, even some trinitarian Bibles translate this verse, "the church of the Lord." - NEB; REB; ASV; Moffatt.  Since Jesus was often referred to as "the Lord," this rendering negates any "Jesus is God" understanding for Acts 20:28.
Yes, even the popular trinitarian The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, p. 838, Vol. 2, Zondervan Publ., 1986, uses this translation for Acts 20:28 also: "to feed the church of the Lord"!
And the respected, scholarly trinitarian work, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, p. 480, United Bible Societies, 1971, explains about this first uncertainty concerning the translation of Acts 20:28.  Although, for obvious reasons, preferring the rendering "the church of God" at this verse, this trinitarian work admits that there is "considerable degree of doubt" about this "preferred" rendering.  They admit that "The external evidence is singularly balanced between `church of God' and `church of the Lord.'"
Second, even some trinitarian Bibles render this verse, "to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son." - RSV, 1971 ed.; NRSV; NJB; (also see TEV and GNB).
The New Testament Greek words tou idiou follow "with the blood" in this scripture.  This could be translated as "with the blood of his own."  A singular noun may be understood to follow "his own."  This would be referring to God's "closest relation," his only-begotten Son.
Famous trinitarian scholar J. H. Moulton says about this: 
"something should be said about the use of [ho  idios, which includes tou idiou] without a noun expressed.  This occurs in Jn 1:11, 13:1; Ac 4:23, 24:23.  In the papyri  we find the singular used thus as a term of endearment to near relations .... In Expos. vi. iii. 277 I ventured to cite this as a possible encouragement to those (including B. Weiss) who would translate Acts 20:28 `the blood of one who was his own.'" - A Grammar of New Testament Greek, Vol. 1 (Prolegomena), 1930 ed., p. 90.
Highly respected trinitarian New Testament scholars Westcott and Hort present an alternate reason for a similar rendering:

"it is by no means impossible that YIOY [huiou, or `of the Son'] dropped out [was inadvertently left out during copying] after TOYIDIOY [tou idiou, or `of his own'] at some very early transcription affecting all existing documents.  Its insertion [restoration] leaves the whole passage free from difficulty of any kind." - The New Testament in the Original Greek, Vol. 2, pp. 99, 100 of the Appendix.
And A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, p. 481, tells us:

"Instead of the usual meaning of dia tou haimatos tou idiou [`through the blood of the own'], it is possible that the writer of Acts intended his readers to understand the expression to mean `with the blood of his Own.'  (It is not necessary to suppose, with Hort, that huiou may have dropped out after tou idiou, though palaeographically such an omission would have been easy.)  This absolute use of ho idios is found in Greek papyri as a term of endearment referring to near relatives.  It is possible, therefore, that `his Own' (ho idios) was a title which early Christians gave to Jesus, comparable to `the Beloved'."   

Therefore, we can see that a rendering similar to RSV's "the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own son [or `beloved']" is obviously an honest, proper rendering.
Although the UBS Committee didn't actually commit itself one way or another on this rendering of tou idiou at Acts 20:28, it did mention that "some have thought [it] to be a slight probability that tou idiou is used here as the equivalent of tou idiou huiou [`his own Son']." - p. 481.  Obviously this includes those trinitarian scholars who translated the Revised Standard Version (1971 ed.) and Today's English Version.

Note the the even more certain conclusion of trinitarian scholar, Murray J. Harris, after an extensive analysis of this passage:

"I have argued that the original text of Acts 20:28 read [THN EKKLHSIAN TOU THEOU HN PERIEPOIHSATO DIA TOU AIUATOS TOU IDIOU] and that the most appropriate translation of these words is 'the church of God which he bought with the blood of his own one' or 'the church of God which he bought with the blood of his own Son' (NJB), with [HO IDIOS] construed as a christological title. According to this view, [HO THEOS] refers to God the Father, not Jesus Christ.

"If however, one follows many English versions in construing [IDIOS] adjectivally ('through his own blood'), [HO THEOS] could refer to Jesus and the verse could therefore allude to 'the blood of God,' although on this construction of [IDIOS] it is more probable that [THEOS] is God the Father and the unexpressed subject of [PERIEPOIHSATO] is Jesus. So it remains unlikely, although not impossible, that Acts 20:28 [HO THEOS] denotes Jesus."  - p. 141, Jesus as Theos, The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus,  Baker Book House, Grand rapids, Michigan, 1992.
Since so many respected trinitarian scholars admit the possibility (and even the probability) of such honest alternate non-trinitarian translations for Acts 20:28, this Scripture can't honestly be used as proof for a trinity concept.

For Much More Concerning This Scripture, See:

Acts 20:28 ("God...with his own blood") (Defending the NWT)

ACTS 20:28 (IN Defense of the NWT)

Does Acts 20:28 really say that God bought the church with his "own" blood? (SFBT)

Acts 20:28 ("God...with his own blood") (Examining the Trinity)

A Response to Alleged New World Translation "Errors" (Jehovah's Witnesses United)

"The Sahidic Coptic version...does not speak of 'the church of God which he purchased with his own blood,' (Acts 20:28) (NWT and Coptic)

(Also see the SCRIPTURE INDEX.)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Was the Ark of the Covenant Used as a Form of Idol Worship Because it Has the Image of Cherubs?

A key argument against the cherubic representations coming to be on the Ark as a form of idol worship is the fact that Jehovah God Himself ordered that they be placed in the temple for the purpose of making the priesthood fully aware of His presence. (Ex. 25:19-21) Also, they could not be objects of veneration by the people, because the people in general did not see the cherubs and therefore were not induced to treat them idolatrously. (Num. 4:4-6, 17-20) Instead of encouraging idolatry, these cherubic representations constantly reminded Israel’s priesthood of their relationship to the Most High, the ruling King in Israel, the One who exacted exclusive devotion. (Deut. 6:13-15)

Additionally, when once an apostate priesthood presumed to use the ark of the covenant with its carved cherubs as a charm, Jehovah God allowed the Philistines to capture it, to the great dismay of the Israelites and of aged high priest Eli in particular. (Sam. 4:3, 4, 11, 17, 18)

More excellent information about this can be found in the 11/1/80 Watchtower; 'Cherubs in Israel’s Worship—Why No Idolatry?'

And the 12/1/59 Watchtower, ‘You Must Not Bow Down to a Carved Image’; (next to the last paragraph in particular.)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Is 'Lucifer' a Name For Satan the Devil?

"The Hebrew word translated “Lucifer” means “shining one.” The Septuagint uses the Greek word that means “bringer of dawn.” Hence, some translations render the original Hebrew “morning star” or “Daystar.” But Jerome’s Latin Vulgate uses “Lucifer” (light bearer), and this accounts for the appearance of that term in various versions of the Bible." - par. 2; Questions From Readers; 9/15/2002 Watchtower.

The 'name' Lucifer occurs once in the Scriptures (Isa. 14:12) and only in some versions of the Bible. Traditionally, Lucifer is a name that in English generally refers to the Devil before being cast from heaven. But this description is given to a man and not to a spirit creature as is further seen by the statement: “Down to Sheol you will be brought.” Sheol is the common grave of mankind—not a place occupied by Satan the Devil. Additionally, those seeing Lucifer brought into this condition ask: “Is this the MAN that was agitating the earth?” Clearly, “Lucifer” refers to a human, not to a spirit creature. - Isaiah 14:4, 15, 16. (For more, see: Is Satan Lucifer?; Jimspace)

Additionally, some have erroneously tried to equate Jesus as the "shining one" mentioned at Isaiah 14:12 because the resurrected and exalted Jesus spoke of himself as “the bright morning star” at Revelation 22:16. But Jesus is not the "shining one" mentioned at Isaiah 14:12 since, not only is the actual description different, but Jesus is a spirit person - not the person clearly described here as a physical human being.

For More About Satan the Devil, See:

Who is Satan the Devil? (Search For Bible Truths)