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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Is 2 Kings 2:11 Really Proof That Faithful Ones Who Died Before Jesus Went to Heaven? Did Elijah Really Ascend to Heaven?

The scriptural account makes it clear that Elijah neither ascended to heaven nor did he even die. Rather, he was manifestly still living on earth after his so-called "ascension" (Cf. 2 Ki. 2:11 w/ 2 Ki. 3:1,11 and 2 Chron. 21:1-4, 12, 13).

If you carefully read the cited verses you will see that Elijah was "caught up" in the reign of Jehoshaphat who was father to Jehoram. Seven years after Elijah's "ascension" Jehoshaphat dies and Jehoram kills his brothers. Jehoram then receives a letter from Elijah condemning him for killing his brothers. The obvious conclusion is that Elijah is still alive here on earth when he wrote the letter.

Being caught up to heaven can be easily reconciled with all the explicit Scriptures above by understanding the "heavens" to refer to earth's immediate atmosphere, where birds fly and winds blow. This is a common usage in the Bible (Deut. 4:19; Lk. 4:25-26; Ps.78:26; Matt. 6:26).

Even more, there are also very explicit scriptures which prove that Elijah could not have gone to heaven even after his later death.

For example, at John 3:13 we have a very explicit and clear statement by Christ himself which shows that no one had ever gone to heaven before him. If Elijah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob went to heaven then we have to assume that Jesus was mistaken.

Christ's statement is in agreement with every other clear verse dealing with the resurrection to heaven:

Scriptures plainly state that the resurrection of chosen humans to eternal life with Christ would only occur after Christ's future coming and presence in the "last days." God did not promise anyone that they would be rewarded at death. (Matt. 16:27; 24:3; Lk. 14:14; Jn. 11:24; 14:3; 1 Cor. 15:22, 23, 51, 52; 2 Tim. 4:8)

The way to heavenly life was first opened up to imperfect humans after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ (Jn.14:2, 3; Heb. 6:19, 20; 9:24; 10:19, 20).

Long after Christ's resurrection the Bible writers wrote that the righteous dead were still "asleep" in death (1 Cor. 15:6; 1 Thes. 4:13) and the resurrection was still to occur at a future time (Acts 24:15; Rev. 20:12, 13; cf. 2 Tim. 2:18).

Jesus was also called "the first fruits" of all resurrected to eternal heavenly life, so no one could have preceded him to heaven (Acts 10:40; 1 Cor. 15:20,23; Col. 1:18).

All these explicit passages tell us that there must be something wrong with the interpretation that Elijah or any other human went directly to heaven before the Last Day presence of Christ.

However, some will point to the account of Christ's transfiguration as evidence that Elijah was in heaven (Mt. 17:1-9; Mk. 9:2-9).

Yet, did Elijah and Moses literally appear with Jesus here? Were they alive and conscious in heaven after their death? No, Christ did not indicate that this was a literal appearance of Elijah, rather he explicitly called the transfiguration a "vision" (HORAMA at Mt. 17:9). A vision is not reality. HORAMA occurs 12 times in the Bible all of the occurrences give the idea that a HORAMA is not real. At Acts 12:9 HORAMA is contrasted with real. The other occurrences are Acts 7:31; 9:10, 12; 10:3, 17, 19; 11:5; 16:9, 10; 18:9.

Those who believe that Elijah and Moses went immediately to heaven have some serious contradictions to account for. We have to reconcile all the Scriptures which clearly state that those who are dead do not know anything and do not praise God but are "dust" (Gen. 3:19; Eccl. 3:20; 9:5,10; Ps. 146:4; Isa. 38:18,19; Ezek. 18:4). Isaiah 38:18,19 says that the dead "do not praise Jehovah." If the dead righteous ones are conscious why would they not be able to praise God?

The basic problem is that because of their belief that all good people go to heaven most religions ignore the facts presented in the Bible that there are two destinies for righteous humans. They ignore the explicit statements by Jesus and the Scriptures that show most humans will enjoy everlasting life on earth. God's stated purpose is for righteous ones to live for "eternity on earth" (Mt. 5:5; 6:10; Ps. 37, 9, 10, 29; Isa. 66:19-24; 24:1-6; Rev. 21:3, 4).

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

For more on this subject, see:

What were “the heavens” to which “Elijah went ascending in the windstorm”? (w05 8/1 p. 8-p. 12 par. 3; Watchtower Online Library)

Ascension to Heaven (Insight-1 pp. 1059-1065; Watchtower Online Library)

Elijah (Insight-1 pp. 710-713; Watchtower Online Library)

Friday, April 27, 2012

What Could Have Swallowed Jonah and How Could Jonah Have Survived?

Bible critics, when considering the account of Jonah mention that there is only one type of whale that could have swallowed Jonah—the sperm whale. And even if a whale could have swallowed Jonah, there are no whales in the Mediterranean Sea which is where Jonah was swallowed.

While it is true that whales are rare in the Mediterranean, whale skeletons have been found there. Of course, the sperm whale is not the only candidate.

At Jonah 1:17, it says: “And Jehovah prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.” ASV

A fish could be any large sea creature, like a shark. The great white shark is plenty large enough to swallow a person whole. In some cases it grows to be 40 feet long.1 Unlike the sperm whale, which is not usually aggressive, the great white shark is known for its ferocity and tendency to eat anything in its way.2 For instance, the Australian Zoological Handbook says the great white shark “could easily swallow a man whole.”3 The Natural History of Sharks reports that a 15-foot-long white shark taken in 1939 contained two whole six-foot-long sharks in its stomach—each about the size of a man.4

Not only that, but authorities agree that the great white shark is found in all the seas of the world, including the Mediterranean.5 Several experts report that it is known to follow sailing ships for days on end, eating whatever is thrown overboard.6 This fact actually parallels with what the Bible said happened to Jonah’s ship before the seamen were persuaded to throw him overboard.

The account at Jonah 1:4, 5 mentions that they tried to lighten the ship: “There came to be a great tempest on the sea . . . And they kept hurling out the articles that were in the ship to the sea, in order to lighten it.”

So considering the natural sequence of events as told in the account, the possibility exists that the lightening of the ship could have attracted the attention of some sharks and then one of them could have swallowed Jonah.

Though it is possible that the "great fish" was a sperm whale, the great white shark seems more likely. It is even possible that God used some huge sea creature that has never been found by science. As for the shark, however, many may find it interesting to visit the American Museum of Natural History in New York city, where people can see for themselves the reconstructed jaws of an enormous shark called Carcharodon megalodon. Scientists have decided that the reconstructed jaws are too big. But even when they have been scaled down, it will be clear that this monster could have swallowed Jonah. It was at least 43 feet long.7

How Could Jonah Have Survived?

"But," some may ask, "even if a shark could have swallowed Jonah, isn’t it absurd to imagine his surviving inside the shark for days?"

Certainly Jonah needed a miracle to survive inside the fish that swallowed him. While it is true that there are some accounts of sailors being swallowed alive by whales and surviving the experience,8 many people doubt these accounts and the stories cannot now be verified. The arrival of the fish was a miracle, too, as was the fact that it took Jonah safely to land. But why is it so hard to believe that God could have preserved Jonah miraculously in the belly of the fish? For instance, many Christians believe in the resurrection of Jesus and that required miraculous help from God.

Notice what Jesus said at Matthew 12:40,

“For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.”

Is it likely that Jesus would have used Jonah’s account to illustrate his own death and resurrection if Jonah’s story were not true?

Also notice how Jesus continued in the same vein:

“Men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it; because they repented at what Jonah preached, but, look! something more than Jonah is here.” (Matt. 12:41) Archaeologists have proved that Nineveh really existed. Why should Jonah be a fictional character? Why would Jesus claim to be “more than” somebody who never even existed?

Jesus continues with verse 42:

“The queen of the south will be raised up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it; because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, but, look! something more than Solomon is here.”

Solomon was real. If everybody else was real, why not Jonah? So even though Jonah’s experience was a miracle, it was historical, not fictional.

Why Use a Fish?

But why did God have a fish swallow Jonah?

Because God was using Jonah’s experience to make a point, to illustrate how He would miraculously save His Son from the grave. Jesus himself said that Jonah’s experience inside the huge fish foreshadowed his own experience “in the heart of the earth.” Notice what Jonah said while inside the fish at Jonah 2:2,

“Out of the belly of Sheol I cried for help. You heard my voice.”

Sheol is the Hebrew word for grave, not fish. Jonah was inside a fish, but Jesus was literally in Sheol, or the grave. So Jesus could refer to Jonah’s experience as a “sign” of what would happen to him. In Matthew 12:39 Jesus said, “A wicked and adulterous generation keeps on seeking for a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.” So there was a reason for Jonah’s being swallowed by the fish.

Many times the Bible emphasizes the importance of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection. It should not be surprising that God would use certain events to illustrate important facets of Jesus’ death.

The Bible gives us no reason to believe that the account of Jonah is symbolic. The account is presented as history, not symbolism. Jesus obviously felt that Jonah’s story was factual. Also, God had a good reason to perform the miracle that Jonah writes about. It helps a person to appreciate how important Jesus’ death and resurrection were to God. (See the 4/8/81 Awake!)

Related Articles:

Jonah - Links to Information (INDEX; Watchtower Online Library)

Jonah (Insight-2 pp. 98-99; Watchtower Online Library)

Did God change his mind about destroying Nineveh or simply extend the time until he would destroy it? (Jehovah's Witnesses Questions and Answers)

Why would God pronounce impending destruction on Nineveh if He could fortell through the hearts of the people that He wouldn't need to destroy them until much later? (Jehovah's Witnesses Questions and Answers)



1 The Fishes of South Australia, Edgar R. White, South Australian Museum, page 40.

2 Sharks and Survival, Perry Gilbert, Cornell University, page 13.

3 Australian Zoological Handbook, The Fishes of Australia, Gilbert Percy Whitley, Australian Museum, Part I—The Sharks, page 125.

4 The Natural History of Sharks, Richard M. Backus and Thomas H. Lineaweaver III, Andre Deutsch Ltd., London, 1970, page 111.

5 Ibid., page 113.

6 Sharks—The Silent Savages, Theo Brown, Little, Brown & Co., Boston & Toronto, 1973, page 40; Sea Fishes of Southern Africa, J. L. B. Smith, Rhodes University, page 49; Australian Zoological Handbook, page 106.

7 Natural History, November 1980, pages 112, 113.

8 The Year of the Whale, Victor B. Scheffer, pages 84-86.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Earth's Perpetual 'Habitable Zone' - Accident or "Remarkable Fine-Tuning"?

Many people know that to avoid extremes of temperature, the Earth must orbit at the correct distance from the Sun. Though the Earth currently does slightly vary in it's proximity to the Sun from time to time, it always remains comfortably in what astronomers call the 'habitable zone'— the area where it is capable of sustaining liquid water.

But what many people may not be aware of is that scientists agree that the Earth has always been in the 'habitable zone' throughout its 4.6 billion-year history. Why should this be so interesting? Because all astronomers will tell you that the Sun gets hotter as it ages. For the Earth to always have had liquid oceans for the majority of it's history, geologists admit that there would have to have been "a remarkable fine-tuning of its atmosphere to a warming sun."

The following is an excerpt from p.100 of Science `83, July/August, concerning this:

"The climate of the Earth has varied considerably over time .... Yet what puzzles many scientists is not that the climate varies but that it has remained as stable as it has.

"The Earth, they point out, is quite literally poised between fire and ice. Consider, for example, what would happen if we somehow moved the Earth slightly closer to the sun.

"As the oceans grew warmer, more and more water vapor would begin to steam into the atmosphere ....

"In the end our planet would become a twin of unfortunate Venus, the next planet inward to the sun: a gaseous, dry searing hell, its surface covered with clouds, oppressed by a massive atmosphere of carbon dioxide, and hot enough to melt lead.

"Suppose, on the other hand, we moved the Earth further out from the sun. As the planet grew colder, glaciers would grind [toward the equator].... In the end, the Earth would gleam brilliantly—but its oceans would be frozen solid.

"Thus, the climate is balanced precariously indeed—so precariously that many geologists now believe that tiny, cyclic variations in the Earth's orbit, known as the Milankovitch Cycles, were enough to have triggered the ice ages.

"But geologists ... assure us that the oceans of the earth have remained warm and liquid throughout its 4.6 billion-year history.

"Perhaps this is a lucky accident—after all, if the Earth had not formed at just the right distance from the sun to have liquid oceans, we would not be here to worry about it. But the astrophysicists point out that things aren't quite that simple.

"The sun [as must ALL stars of this life-supporting type] they say, ... is inexorably getting hotter with age. In fact, it is about 40 percent brighter now than when the Earth was born. So how could the climate possibly stay constant? If the Earth is comfortable now, then billions of years ago, under a colder sun, the oceans must have been frozen solid. But they were not. On the other hand, if the oceans were liquid then, why has the sun not broiled us into a second Venus by now?"

The Science article concludes that if continuation of life on the Earth depended on an "accident" that has been

"followed by a remarkable fine-tuning of its atmosphere to a warming sun, then the hopes of finding other intelligence in the universe must be slim indeed."

On the contrary, doesn't it appear that the "accident" and the "remarkable fine-tuning" over billions of years provide evidence of another, much higher intelligence?

Related Articles:

THE EARTH - Was it “Founded” by Chance? (g00 10/8 pp. 8-11; Watchtower Online Library)

The "Impossible" Universe (Search For Bible Truths)

Why Do Some Scientists Believe in God? (Search For Bible Truths)

The Universe — Did It Come About by Chance or by Design? (Search For Bible Truths)

Is It Unscientific to Believe in God? (g04 6/22 pp. 3-4; Watchtower Online Library)

Our Awesome UNIVERSE - A Product of Chance? (g00 10/8 pp. 3-4; Watchtower Online Library)

Did the ELEMENTS Come About by Chance? (g00 10/8 pp. 5-7; Watchtower Online Library)

Friday, April 20, 2012

What is the Paradise That Jesus Promised to the Evildoer Who Died Alongside Him? (Luke 23:43)

Luke’s account shows that an evildoer, being executed alongside Jesus Christ, spoke words in Jesus’ defense and requested that Jesus remember him when he ‘got into his kingdom.’ Jesus’ reply was: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.” (Lu 23:39-43) The punctuation shown in the rendering of these words must, of course, depend on the translator’s understanding of the sense of Jesus’ words, since no punctuation was used in the original Greek text. Punctuation in the modern style did not become common until about the ninth century C.E. Whereas many translations place a comma before the word “today” and thereby give the impression that the evildoer entered Paradise that same day, there is nothing in the rest of the Scriptures to support this. Jesus himself was dead and in the tomb until the third day and was then resurrected as “the firstfruits” of the resurrection. (Ac 10:40; 1Co 15:20; Col 1:18) He ascended to heaven 40 days later.—Joh 20:17; Ac 1:1-3, 9. [Also see Luke 23:43 - Punctuation and the New World Translation; "Truly I tell you today,..." - Search For Bible Truths]

The evidence is, therefore, that Jesus’ use of the word “today” was not to give the time of the evildoer’s being in Paradise but, rather, to call attention to the time in which the promise was being made and during which the evildoer had shown a measure of faith in Jesus. It was a day when Jesus had been rejected and condemned by the highest-ranking religious leaders of his own people and was thereafter sentenced to die by Roman authority. He had become an object of scorn and ridicule. So the wrongdoer alongside him had shown a notable quality and commendable heart attitude in not going along with the crowd but, rather, speaking out in Jesus’ behalf and expressing belief in his coming Kingship. Recognizing that the emphasis is correctly placed on the time of the promise’s being made rather than on the time of its fulfillment, other translations, such as those in English by Rotherham and Lamsa, those in German by Reinhardt and W. Michaelis, as well as the Curetonian Syriac of the fifth century C.E., rendered the text in a form similar to the reading of the New World Translation, quoted herein.

As to the identification of the Paradise of which Jesus spoke, it is clearly not synonymous with the heavenly Kingdom of Christ. Earlier that day entry into that heavenly Kingdom had been held out as a prospect for Jesus’ faithful disciples but on the basis of their having ‘stuck with him in his trials,’ something the evildoer had never done, his dying on a stake alongside Jesus being purely for his own criminal acts. (Lu 22:28-30; 23:40, 41) The evildoer obviously had not been “born again,” of water and spirit, which Jesus showed was a prerequisite to entry into the Kingdom of the heavens. (Joh 3:3-6) Nor was the evildoer one of the ‘conquerors’ that the glorified Christ Jesus stated would be with him on his heavenly throne and that have a share in “the first resurrection.”—Re 3:11, 12, 21; 12:10, 11; 14:1-4; 20:4-6.

Some reference works present the view that Jesus was referring to a paradise location in Hades or Sheol, supposedly a compartment or division thereof for those approved by God. The claim is made that the Jewish rabbis of that time taught the existence of such a paradise for those who had died and were awaiting a resurrection. Regarding the teachings of the rabbis, Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible states: “The Rabbinical theology as it has come down to us exhibits an extraordinary medley of ideas on these questions, and in the case of many of them it is difficult to determine the dates to which they should be assigned. . . . Taking the literature as it is, it might appear that Paradise was regarded by some as on earth itself, by others as forming part of Sheol, by others still as neither on earth nor under earth, but in heaven . . . But there is some doubt as respects, at least, part of this. These various conceptions are found indeed in later Judaism. They appear most precisely and most in detail in the mediaeval Cabbalistic Judaism . . . But it is uncertain how far back these things can be carried. The older Jewish theology at least . . . seems to give little or no place to the idea of an intermediate Paradise. It speaks of a Gehinnom for the wicked, and a Gan Eden, or garden of Eden, for the just. It is questionable whether it goes beyond these conceptions and affirms a Paradise in Sheol.”—1905, Vol. III, pp. 669, 670.

Even if they did teach such a thing, it would be most unreasonable to believe that Jesus would propagate such a concept, in view of his condemnation of the non-Biblical religious traditions of the Jewish religious leaders. (Mt 15:3-9) Likely the paradise truly familiar to the Jewish malefactor to whom Jesus spoke was the earthly Paradise described in the first book of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Paradise of Eden. That being so, Jesus’ promise would reasonably point to a restoration of such earthly paradisaic condition. His promise to the wrongdoer would therefore give assured hope of a resurrection of such an unrighteous one to an opportunity to life in that restored Paradise.—Compare Ac 24:15; Re 20:12, 13; 21:1-5; Mt 6:10. -- "Paradise", Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 2

(For more, see the Paradise Category.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why Did Jesus Refer to Himself as the Son of Man?

Though Jesus referred to himself as "God's Son" (John 10:36), he also called himself the "Son of Man". In the Gospel accounts the expression is found nearly 80 times, applying in every case to Jesus Christ, being used by him to refer to himself. (Mt 8:20; 9:6; 10:23) The occurrences outside the Gospel accounts are at Acts 7:56; Hebrews 2:6; and Revelation 1:13; 14:14.

His title “Son of man” reminds us of his being most closely related to man by becoming flesh, being man’s kinsman, and by reason of this, as foreshadowed in the Law, the repurchaser of blood. (Lev. 25:25; Num. 35:19)

The Bible very plainly shows through it's descriptive account of Jesus having ‘become flesh’ (John 1:14), and having ‘come to be out of a woman’ through his conception and birth to the Jewish virgin Mary. (Gal. 4:4; Luke 1:34-36) Because of all of these things, it is fitting for Jesus to have applied the expression "Son of Man" to himself. (John 1:51; 3:14, 15)

This in itself is in no way suggesting that Jesus was only ever merely a man. The Bible says that Jesus was originally in heaven, "but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men." (Phil. 2:7)

God sent his Son to the earth by miraculously transferring the life of Jesus from heaven to the womb of a faithful Jewish virgin named Mary. Jesus inherited no imperfections because he did not have a human father. Jehovah God's holy spirit, or active force, came upon Mary, and his power ‘overshadowed’ her, miraculously causing her to become pregnant. (Luke 1:34, 35) Mary then gave birth to a perfect child. (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:22, 23; Mark 6:3)

For more, see:

SON OF MAN - Links to Information (INDEX; Watchtower Online Library)

Son of Man (Insight-2 pp. 1001-1003; Watchtower Online Library)

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Seen Me: Seen Father" - John 14:7-9

"Seen Me: Seen Father"  -  John 14:7-9

John 14:1 - "believe in God, believe also in me." 14:7 - "If ye had known me, ye would have known my Father also: from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. (:8) Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. (:9) Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou, Show us the Father? (:10) Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I say unto you I speak not from myself: but the Father abiding in me doeth his works." - ASV.

We can understand what Jesus actually intended when he said "I am in the Father and the Father is in me" and "the Father is abiding in me." And it is not very difficult to understand his saying, "If you had known me, you would have known my Father" since Jesus is in perfect harmony with the Father's will and purpose (i.e. "one," "in," etc.). But what about "he that has seen me has seen the Father"?

First, let's examine the relationship between "abiding in," "knowing," and "seeing" (horao in NT Greek) as commonly used figuratively in the Bible. 1 John 2:3, 5, 6 - "by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments .... By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner He walked [your purpose, actions words, and life must reflect his example]." - NASB. And 1 John 3:29, "he that keeps His [God's] commandments abides in Him, and He in him." - NASB. These scriptures show, again, the intended meaning for the figurative use of "abides."

Now notice the relationship between "know" and "see": 3 John 11 - "the one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen [horao] God." And 1 John 3:6 - "No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen [horao] Him or knows Him." - NASB.

We can see, then, that horao ("see") can mean the same thing as "abiding in" or "knowing," and all three may have the figurative meaning of agreement in purpose and will with someone else.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 4, p. 380, tells us:

"What is seen in a vision is a revelation from God. Statements that human beings have seen or will see God Himself do not refer to a perception of a physical aspect of God by human physical senses but a process of coming to some amount of understanding of God, often just a simple realization of His greatness or some other aspect of His nature, either by a revelatory vision (Isa. 6:15; Ezk. 1:26-28), … or by their acquaintance with Jesus Christ (Jn 14:9, cf. 1:18)." – Eerdmans, 1991.

The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 3, 1986 printing, Zondervan, pp. 513, 515, 518, explains the meanings of horao.

"Horao" means "... become aware (Gen. 37:1). (b) figuratively it comes to be used of intellectual or spiritual perception .... It also means ... attend to, know or have experienced (Deut. 11:2), or be concerned about something (Gen. 37:14; Is. 5:12)." - p. 513. - - "Besides the general meaning of to know, horao and its derivatives can mean to obtain knowledge". - p. 515.

This trinitarian reference also states:

"For the NT God is utterly invisible (Jn 6:46; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16; Col. 1:15) ... yet the resurrection narratives especially stress that the risen Christ is visible." - p. 518.

Professor Joseph H. Thayer (who was "the dean of New Testament scholars in America" - Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. IX) in his Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament ("a standard in the field") also defines horao with similar meanings and specifically tells us that John 14:7, 9 is in the category of "2. to see with the mind, to perceive, to KNOW."

In discussing this meaning of "horao," Thayer writes:

"to know God's will, 3 John 11; from the intercourse and influence of Christ to have come to see (know) God's majesty, saving purposes, and WILL, Jn. xiv. 7, 9". - p. 451, Baker Book House, 1984 printing.

We can understand, then, why the very trinitarian The NIV Study Bible, 1985, Zondervan, explains John 14:7 this way:

"Once more Jesus stresses the intimate connection between the Father and himself. Jesus brought a full revelation of the Father (cf. 1:18), so that the apostles had real knowledge of him." - footnote for John 14:7.

Trinitarian minister and acclaimed New Testament scholar, Dr. William Barclay, also comments on John 14:7-9:

"The Jews [including Jesus, of course, and those to whom he spoke] would count it as an article of faith that no man had seen God at any time .... To see Jesus is to see what God is like." - p. 159. "`He who has seen me has seen the Father,' Jesus is the revelation of God." - p. 161.


"The danger of the Christian faith is that we may set up Jesus as a kind of secondary God. But Jesus himself insists that the things he said and the things he did did not come from his own initiative or his own power or his own knowledge but from God. His words were God's voice speaking to men; His deeds were God's power flowing through him to men. He was the channel by which God came to men." - The Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of John, pp. 159, 161, 162, Vol. 2, The Westminster Press, 1975.

So there is no real reason to insist that John 14:7, 9 shows Jesus as being equally God with his Father. The probability is that, in harmony with the usage of the time, Jesus was merely saying that what he spoke came from God, and what he did is what God directed. He meant that understanding what he did and said was like knowing ("seeing") God* (as, in a similar sense, those who literally saw angels sent by God and speaking God's words were said to have "seen God"). Jesus is totally in harmony with ("one" with) the Father in purpose (see the ONE study paper) so that we can "see" the Father's will in Jesus.

As in all other "Jesus is equally God" evidence, we find that the trinitarian "proof" is a scripture that can honestly be translated or interpreted in at least one other way which would prove no such thing!

We never find a statement clearly stating that "Jesus is equally and fully God" in the entire Bible. And yet other such essential knowledge that leads to eternal life is clearly and repeatedly emphasized: "Jesus is the Christ [Messiah]," "our savior and king" - the one who appears before God in heaven in our behalf, the one through whom we must approach God. Surely this most important information in the Bible of exactly who God is and exactly who Jesus is would not be hidden from us in the slightest degree!



*Origen, noted by many to be the greatest and most knowledgeable scholar of the NT Greek explained John 14:9:

"But ... God is invisible .... Whereas, on the contrary, God, the Father of Christ, is said to be seen, because `he who sees the Son,' he says, `sees also the Father.' This certainly would press us hard [to explain], were the expression not understood by us more correctly of understanding, and not of seeing. For he who has understood the Son will understand the Father also." - p. 277, vol. iv, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Eerdmans Publishing.

For more, see:

Seeing God; Jesus (John 14:9) (Insight-1 pp. 789-791; Watchtower Online Library)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Must Christians Really Pay All Taxes—Including Those Some May Consider Unreasonable or Unjust?

With taxes increasingly becoming burdensome, some may wonder, 'Must Christians really pay all taxes—including those some may consider unreasonable or unjust?'

Well, consider what Jesus told his disciples. He knew that his Jewish countrymen bitterly resented the taxes imposed by Rome. Regardless of this, Jesus urged: "Pay back Caesar's things to Caesar, but God's things to God." (Mark 12:17) Interestingly, Jesus advocated paying tax to the very regime that would shortly execute him.

Also, a few years later, Paul plainly stated this at Romans 13:7:

"Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor." (New International Version)

Despite the fact that large sums of tax money were used to fund Rome's military and to support the immoral and excessive life-style of the Roman emperors, he still urged the paying of taxes. Why? The answer lies in the context of Paul's words. At Romans 13:1, he wrote: "Let every soul be in subjection to the superior authorities, for there is no authority except by God; the existing authorities stand placed in their relative positions by God." When the nation of Israel had God-fearing rulers, it was easy to view supporting the nation financially as a civic and religious duty. But Christians also have a similar responsibility when the rulers were unbelieving idol worshipers because God had granted rulers the "authority" to rule.

Three Reasons For Paying Taxes

Because governments can do a great deal to maintain order, this allows Christians to carry on their various spiritual activities. (Matthew 24:14; Hebrews 10:24, 25) Paul said this when mentioning the superior governmental authority: "It is God's minister to you for your good." (Romans 13:4) Paul himself took advantage of the protection the Roman government offered. For example, when he found himself the victim of a mob, he was saved by Roman soldiers. Later he appealed to the Roman judicial system so that he could continue serving as a missionary. (Acts 22:22-29; 25:11, 12)

At Romans 13:1-6, Paul mentioned three reasons for paying taxes. First, he spoke about the "wrath" of the governments in punishing lawbreakers. Second, he explained that a godly individual's conscience would be adversely affected if he cheated on his taxes. Finally, he indicated that taxes are simply compensation for the services governments perform as "public servants."

True Christians Obey Tax Laws

It is clear that Paul's fellow Christians took his words seriously because Justin Martyr, the second-century Christian writer (about 110 to 165 C.E.), said that Christians paid their taxes "more readily than all men." True Christians who heed these words continue to do so clear down to today. (Matthew 5:41)

Christians are free to take advantage of any legal tax deductions if applicable. However, in keeping with Jesus' and Paul's urgings, true Christians do not engage in tax evasion or fraud. They pay their taxes and let the authorities take full responsibility for how they use the money.

The Bible promises that soon God’s Kingdom will be the only government over mankind. (Daniel 2:44) Justice will prevail for all under God's government—a government that will never burden people with unjust taxes. (Psalm 72:12, 13; Isaiah 9:7)

Additional Reading:

Should You Pay Your Taxes?
Must Christians really pay all taxes--including those some may consider unreasonable or unjust? (Jehovah's Witnesses Publication g03 12/8 pp. 10-11; Watchtower Online Library)

Growing Resentment Against Taxes?
Why are taxes so complicated--and so high? Are you obliged to pay them? (g03 12/8 pp. 3-4; Watchtower Online Library)

Taxes—Price of a "Civilized Society"?
Why are tax systems often so complex and seemingly unfair? (g03 12/8 pp. 5-9; Watchtower Online Library)

Monday, April 9, 2012

What is Tartarus? (2 Peter 2:4)

The word Tartarus is only found once in the Bible and that is at 2 Pet. 2:4,

"Certainly if God did not hold back from punishing the angels that sinned, but, by throwing them into Tar´ta·rus, delivered them to pits of dense darkness to be reserved for judgment;" (2 Pet. 2:4)

Notice the "pits of dense darkness". To help better understand what Tar´ta·rus is, consider the parallel text found at Jude 6:

“And the angels that did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place he has reserved with eternal bonds under dense darkness for the judgment of the great day.”

Showing when it was that these angels "forsook their own proper dwelling place," Peter speaks of "the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient when the patience of God was waiting in Noah’s days, while the ark was being constructed." (1 Pet. 3:19, 20) This directly links the matter to the account at Genesis 6:1-4 concerning "the sons of the true God" who abandoned their heavenly dwelling to couple with women in pre-Flood times and produced children by them, such offspring being designated as Nephilim.

From these texts it is evident that Tar´ta·rus is a condition rather than a particular location, since Peter, on the one hand, speaks of these disobedient spirits as being in “pits of dense darkness,” while Paul speaks of them as being in “heavenly places” from which they exercise a rule of darkness as wicked spirit forces. (2 Pet. 2:4; Eph. 6:10-12)

So considering the above, the "dense darkness" that the disobedient angels are in suggests a condition - not of non-existence or unconsciousness, but of - being cut off from illumination by God as renegades and outcasts from His family, with only a dark outlook as to their eternal destiny.

It is also evident that Tar´ta·rus is not the same as the Hebrew Sheol or the Greek Hades, both of which refer to the common earthly grave of mankind. This is made plain from the fact that, while the apostle Peter shows that Jesus Christ preached to these “spirits in prison,” he also shows that Jesus did so, not during the three days while buried in Hades (Sheol), but after his resurrection out of Hades. (1 Pet. 3:18-20)

For more, see:

TARTARUS - Links to Information (INDEX; Watchtower Online Library)

Tartarus (Insight-2 pp. 1068-1069; Watchtower Online Library)

“Tartarus” 2Pe 2:4—“By throwing them into Tartarus” Gr., Tar·ta·ro′sas; Lat., de·trac′tos in Tar′ta·rum; Syr., ʽa·gen ʼe·nun beThach·ta·ya·thaʼ (INDEX p. 1575; Watchtower Online Library)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Does the Word 'Easter' Belong in a Bible Translation? (Acts 12:4; KJV)

The word “Easter” is used in the Authorized Version of the Bible (KJV), but it is the result of poor translating from the Greek language in which the book of Acts was originally written. Other translations properly render the Greek word pascha as passover, not Easter.

Note what The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible has to say about this on page 145:

“Easter. Originally the spring festival in honor of the Teutonic goddess of light and spring known in Anglo-Saxon as Eastre. As early as the 8th century the name was transferred by the Anglo-Saxons to the Christian festival designed to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. In A.V. [Authorized Version] it occurs once (Acts 12:4), but is a MISTRANSLATION.”

Also notice the following from the Easton's Bible Dictionary, Thomas Nelson Publ.:

"EASTER - originally a Saxon word (Eostre), denoting a goddess of the Saxons, in honour of whom sacrifices were offered about the time of the Passover. Hence the name came to be given to the festival of the Resurrection of Christ, which occured at the time of the Passover. In the early English versions this word [Easter] was frequently used as the translation of the Greek pascha (the Passover). When the Authorized Version [KJV] (1611) was formed, the word `passover' was used in all passages in which this word pascha occurred, except in Acts 12:4. In the Revised Version the proper word, "passover," is always used."

For much more concerning Easter, see:

Why Don't Jehovah's Witnesses Celebrate Easter? (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter - What do Colored Eggs, Bunnies and Hot-Cross Buns Have to do With Honoring Jesus and God?

From early childhood you may have been told that Easter is a Christian celebration that commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, rather than being a Christian celebration, many authoritative works of history clearly show that Easter is pagan, with roots deep in ancient sex worship.

If Easter were truly a Christian celebration, why the eggs and rabbits? What connection could they have with the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Obviously none whatsoever. They are traditional in Easter because the ancient pagans used them when celebrating their spring festival. Both were important symbols in pagan sex worship.

Even the very name of this celebration in English ("Easter") is the name of a pagan goddess. Many of the customs originally used in worshiping this ancient European goddess are the same ones used today in celebrating Easter.

Confirming its pagan background, The Catholic Encyclopedia, edition of 1909, states in Volume 5, on page 227:

"A great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter. The egg is the emblem of the germinating life of early spring. . . . The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility."

In harmony with this The Encyclopedia Americana, edition of 1956, states in Volume 9, on page 506: "According to the Venerable Bede, English historian of the early 8th century, the word [Easter] is derived from the Norse Ostara or Eostre, meaning the festival of spring at the vernal equinox, March 21, when nature is in resurrection after winter. Hence, the rabbits, notable for their fecundity, and the eggs, colored like rays of the returning sun and the northern lights or aurora borealis."

"Children roll pasch eggs in England. Everywhere they hunt the many-colored Easter eggs, brought by the Easter rabbit. This is not mere child's play, but the vestige of a fertility rite, the eggs and the rabbit both symbolizing fertility. Furthermore, the rabbit was the escort of the Germanic goddess Ostara who gave the name to the festival by way of the German Ostern." - Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend, edition of 1949, Volume one, page 335.

That the celebration finds no authorization in the Holy Scriptures or precedent among early Christians is pointed out by The Encyclopædia Britannica, eleventh edition, Volume 8, page 828:

"There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament, or in the writings of the apostolic Fathers. The sanctity of special times was an idea absent from the minds of the first Christians. . . . The ecclesiastical historian Socrates (Hist. Eccl. v. 22) states, with perfect truth, that neither the Lord nor his apostles enjoined the keeping of this or any other festival . . . and he attributes the observance of Easter by the church to the perpetuation of an old usage, `just as many other customs have been established.'" The old usage was the practice of pagans to have a festival in honor of their goddess of spring.

Why Should True Christians Care?

So why should true Christians care if Easter's origins have pagan associations? Because true Christians should want to know that God does not approve of certain customs if they originate with false religion or are against Bible teachings. (Matthew 15:6) God makes it clear through His Word the Bible that if a Christan intentionally participates in a holiday or custom, it must have absolutely no known pagan religion associations. (Deut. 5:7-9; Exodus 23:13; 2 Cor. 6:17)

For much more information, see:

Easter - Links to Information (INDEX; Watchtower Online Library)

Easter Origins, Traditions and Customs - Christian or Pagan? (Search For Bible Truths)
Quotes and references concerning the pagan origins and associations in connection with: EASTER, COLORED EGGS and the RABBIT; HOT-CROSS-BUNS / "CAKES OF BREAD" and EASTER FIRES.

Easter - Who Does It Really Honor? (Jehovah's Witnesses United)
"What is the meaning and origin of Easter? Who is honored by the holiday? What are its symbols? Were early Christians commanded to celebrate Easter? Should true Christians celebrate Easter today? The first four questions, and more, will be answered in this paper..."

Easter - Pagan and Unscriptural (Search For Bible Truths; Excerpts from the 4/15/63 and 3/15/68 Watchtowers)

Does the Word 'Easter' Belong in a Bible Translation? (Acts 12:4; KJV) (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

Should We Celebrate Holidays? (bh p. 222-p. 223; Watchtower Online Library)
"There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament," states The Encyclopædia Britannica. How did Easter get started?

Research: Are Celebrating Holidays Acceptable to God? (Search For Bible Truths)

"Easter" -- And "Babylon the Great" (Babylon the Great)

Holidays (Search For Bible Truths) Links to related subjects

Paganism (Search For Bible Truths) Links to related subjects

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Lord’s Evening Meal - Links to Information

Click on any of the following to view:

MEMORIAL (Lord’s Evening Meal) (INDEX; Watchtower Online Library)

Lord’s Evening Meal (Insight-2 pp. 268-271; Watchtower Online Library)

The Lord’s Evening Meal—An Observance That Honors God (bh p. 206-p. 208; Watchtower Online Library)

Who Are to Partake of the Bread and the Wine and How Does One Know if They Are of the Anointed Or Called to Heavenly Life? (Search For Bible Truths)

Why Observe the Lord’s Evening Meal? (w03 2/15 pp. 12-16; Watchtower Online Library)

The Lord’s Evening Meal—How Observed? (w04 3/15 pp. 4-7; Watchtower Online Library)

What Does the Lord’s Evening Meal Mean to You? (w03 2/15 pp. 17-22; Watchtower Online Library)

The Ransom—God’s Greatest Gift (bh chap. 5 pp. 47-56; Watchtower Online Library)
How can you demonstrate that you appreciate God’s gift of the ransom? Attend the annual observance of the Lord’s Evening Meal.

The Eucharist—The Facts Behind the Ritual (w08 4/1 pp. 26-29; Watchtower Online Library)
What was the original observance that Jesus instituted like?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Who Are to Partake of the Bread and the Wine and How Does One Know if They Are of the Anointed Or Called to Heavenly Life?

Why do so few of Jehovah’s Witnesses partake of the bread and the wine at the yearly celebration of the Lord’s Evening Meal?

In short, this is because Jehovah’s Witnesses, in contrast to the churches of Christendom, accept the Bible’s teaching that a small number of humans will gain heavenly life and the rest of God’s faithful servants will be rewarded with everlasting life on earth.
(Also see: What Do Jehovah's Witnesses Believe Regarding Physical And Heavenly Afterlives? The 144,000?; Search For Bible Truths)

When Christ instituted the New Covenant, the "communion meal" or drinking of wine and eating bread was part of enacting a formal covenant (Lk. 22:20; Mt 26:26-29; Mr 14:22-25; 1Cor.11:23-29). Those partaking were participants in the New Covenant and were to become kings and priests with him (Lk. 22:28-30).

Those to whom "God gives the Kingdom" would be a relatively small number–a "little flock,""firstfruits" (Lk.12:32; Dan 7:18,22,27). The "blood of the covenant" "inaugurated the way of entry into heaven" for these chosen ones (Heb 9:24; 10:15-20; Jer.31:31-34). The Bible states that there were to be 144,000 taken to heaven to rule as kings and priests (Rev.14:1-4; 5:9,10; 20:4-6; Heb 12:22-24). Only these 144,000 are "bought from the earth" and "have been enrolled in the heavens."

All this demonstrates that the New Covenant was the legal arrangement by which faithful humans would enter heaven as kings and priests. So ONLY participants of that covenant would partake of the emblems of Christ's blood and flesh at the celebration of the Last Supper.

There was no need for those with the earthly hope to partake of the covenant meal since they are not participants in the New Covenant. In fact, doing so would be presumptuous. Jehovah would be displeased if a person represented himself as one called to be a heavenly king and priest when he had no such calling. God executed Korah for presumptuously seeking the priesthood (Ex.28:1; Num.16:4-11, 31-35).

The new covenant will eventually bring blessings to all obedient mankind. Even though those with a(n) earthly hope do not partake of the Memorial emblems they also gain salvation by Christ's ransom.

The apostle John said: "I am writing you these things that you may not commit a sin. And yet, if anyone does commit a sin, we have a helper with the Father, Jesus Christ, a righteous one. And he is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world's" (1Jn 2:1,2). So Jesus died not only for those anointed Christians who will rule in heaven, but also for the sins of the whole world, making eternal life possible for obedient mankind in the Paradise earth now so near at hand!

So a person is not required to partake of the Memorial emblems in order to be saved by Jesus' ransom sacrifice and receive eternal life on earth. For instance, the Bible gives no indication that God-fearing people like Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Boaz, Ruth, and David will ever partake of these emblems. But because of Christ's ransom they will be resurrected and we will live with them on earth!

Those of the "other sheep" or innumerable "great crowd" are not disappointed that they are not going to heaven. In fact, their desire is to enjoy the amazing blessings God gives them on earth. They are also highly favored by God; Jehovah called them "blessed" and "my people" (Isa.65:21-23; Ps.37:11; Mt.5:5).

As Jehovah's "blessed people" we look forward to fulfilling God's original purpose for humans by living forever on a paradise earth without death or sickness.

It is very obvious that Christendom's doctrine of only two ultimate destinies is incorrect. While the wicked will be destroyed, the Bible is very clear that there are actually two destinies for righteous humans. Only a small group are part of the New Covenant to be kings in heaven and the other is a great multitude of subjects who "inherit the earth."

A serious handicap for many is that they have been taught that the only future hope for righteous humans is heaven. However, this teaching ignores the fact that the Bible shows that the majority of righteous humans will inherit eternal life on earth (Rev.21:1,3,4; 2Pet.3:12-13; Ps 37:10,11,29; 104:5; Ec. 1:4).

On the other hand, the Bible teaches that only a comparatively few will be "bought from the earth" to rule as kings and priests in heaven (Rev. 14:1,3,4; Lk. 12:32; Joh 14:2-3; Heb.12:22,23). In the scriptures these 144,000 are variously described as Christ's "brothers," his "joint heirs" "sons of God" and "partakers of the heavenly calling," and etc. (Heb 2:10-12; 3:1-6; Rm. 8:14-17,29, 30; 1Pt. 1:4; 1Jn. 3:2). The 144,000 making up this "little flock" are the only humans ever seen in heaven.

Because of their belief that all good people go to heaven most religions are the ones who ignore the fact that two groups are consistently differentiated in the Bible, both who believe in Christ and gain salvation. Failure to accept this scriptural truth results in an inability to properly understand the New Covenant arrangement.

(Source: This is the chosen best answer given by Bar_Anerges to this question.)

(For more, see the 144,000 Category.)

How Does One Know if They Are of the Anointed Or Called to Heavenly Life?

Romans 8:13-17...shows that God's holy spirit, or active force, creates within anointed ones the assurance that they are destined for heavenly life. They have an unmistakable knowledge that they have been "adopted" as heavenly Sons. They are "God's children" in a special sense because of this new and special "adoption" to a heavenly life (1 Pet. 1:3-4, 23; Heb. 12:23). These are "born again" because they have this heavenly life in view rather than God's original earthly purpose for humankind. This was a new arrangement for humans put in effect only after Christ came to earth. That is why they are a "new creation." They are chosen by God directly, not because that is what they have been taught by others (Jn. 1:9-13; Jas. 1:17-18; 2 Cor. 5:17).

[It has been observed by some] that their whole outlook on life changes to embrace heavenly life. They are willing to sacrifice all earthly things, including human life. Human's natural desire is to eternally live and enjoy the beautiful things on earth. We desire beautiful sunsets, valleys and mountains. We look forward to enjoying earth's animals and having children and grandchildren. We would be happy to just continue living without ever dying. Humans naturally fight death and struggle to hold on to this life. But, those adopted as heavenly heirs no longer desire such things on a future paradise earth. Their intense and innate longing is for heavenly life (2 Cor. 5:1-5; Php. 1:21-23).

This is different than what we find in most people who have been taught by their religions that they are going to heaven. These people say they are going to heaven, but when they describe what they think it is going to be like they describe it using earthly concepts and desires. They usually just transfer earthly things and desires into heaven. Those who have the real hope of life in heaven know that they will not have earthly possessions, desires, nor fleshly bodies in heaven. So they do not make the mistake of transferring earthly life into heaven.

And if you are unsure or have to ask someone else if you are of the anointed--then you are not!

(Source: This is the answer given by Bar_Anerges to this question.)