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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Do Jehovah's Witnesses Really Follow Polytheism?

Some have accused Jehovah's Witnesses of being Polytheistic. One dictionary describes it as: "pertaining to, characterized by, or adhering to polytheism, the doctrine that there is more than one god or many gods." Are Jehovah’s Witnesses Polytheistic?

Jehovah’s Witnesses are monotheists. They believe exactly what the Bible teaches: Jehovah is the supreme or Almighty God. Ps.83:18 explicitly calls Jehovah the "Most High."

However, we have to keep in mind how the appellation "god" was use at the time the Bible was written, not how it is used today.

Today, when we use the word God we are usually referring to the one true almighty God. This was not the case in Bible times nor in most historical periods. Any Bible dictionary will give you the same meaning of the word "God" (ELOHIM/QEOS) that Strong's Lexicon does: "great, mighty ones, rulers, judges, divine ones, angels" (BDB Hebrew lexicon; Theological Wordbook of the O.T. etc.).

So the original words for "God" (ELOHIM/QEOS) were not used as an exclusive title for Almighty God in this period. It was quite possible in Jewish and Christian monotheism to speak of mighty or divine beings as "god," (THEOS) without teaching polytheism. This is the same with the term "Lord" today, especially in Britain; no one understands that calling humans "Lord" identifies them with or makes them equal to Jesus!

So, in the Scriptures others were properly called gods without according them the status of Almighty God in the strict sense. In the Bible this title was used of men, angels, Moses, Paul and Satan: (Ex. 4:16; 7:1; 21:6; 22:8-9, 28; Ps. 8:5/Heb. 2:8; Ps. 82:1,6; 97:7; 136:2; 138:1; Jn.10:34; 2Cor.4:4). At Psalm 45:6,7 it calls a human King, probably Solomon, "God."

Its meaning is the same in every case; that these individuals share some quality as a god or a mighty person in relation to others around them. So while this does not put these individuals down on the same level as false gods, it still does not mean that there are other Gods equal to the Almighty. Therefore, this in no way contradicts the monotheistic concept of a Supreme Deity as taught in the Bible (Isa.44:6-8). This is because the sense of "god" is relative. Humans and angels are correctly called "god," but they still have Jehovah God over them. The term "god" simply means someone who is over others in some capacity.

So Biblical monotheism allows others to be called "god" with no connotation that they be a false god. Psalm 45:6,7 calls the human king "God" but also says that he has a "God" over him. This shows that two Gods can be referred to: "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever. ... therefore, thy God hath anointed Thee." The King is called "God" yet he manifestly has a greater God--the Almighty-- over him.

Notice the footnote on Ps.45:6 in the NAB: "Your throne, O god: the Hebrew king was called ELOHIM, ‘God' not in the polytheistic sense common among the ancient pagans, but as meaning ‘god-like'. Cf Ps. 58, 2; 82, 1, 6." (cf. the NET Bible footnote on Isa.9:6).

So this brings us to Christ Jesus and what it means when he is called QEOS in the NT. As translated in many bibles, Hebrews 1:8,9 gives us a clear understanding when it applies Ps.45:6 to Jesus. It clearly shows that Christ can be called "God" yet still be separate from and less than Almighty God. Jesus still has a God over him: "therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions."

"In the Old Testament...the noun "god" is actually used of men. Psalm 45:6 provides a significant example, because here the GREATER AND LESSER SENSES OF THE SUBSTANTIVE "GOD" appear side by side, namely, "God" in the usual sense of the supreme God of Israel and "god" denoting the person of Israel's king. Furthermore, this same passage appears in Hebrews 1:8 as a testimonium related to Christ, where it is "god" in its LESSER CONNOTATION."—Jesus as "Theos" in the NT, G. H. Boobyer

ALMIGHTY God cannot have a God! Yet Jesus has a God over him at every period of his existence (Mic.5:4; Jn 14:28; 20:17; Rom.15:6; 1Cor 15:28; Rev.3:12). Before he came to earth Jesus was less than Almighty God, while he was on earth he was less than Almighty God and after he is in heaven and as high as he will ever get he is still less than Almighty God

So while Jesus is called "god" several times in the N.T., over a dozen times the Scriptures explicitly state that he has a God over him. And every time Jesus is called "god" the context always shows that Jesus is separated from and less than the Eternal, Almighty God.

Karl Rahner, the eminent Roman Catholic theologian, considers that there are reliable applications of "THEOS" to Christ in six texts. Rahner, however, immediately goes on the say that in none of these instances is "THEOS" used in such a manner as to identify Jesus with the Supreme God.--Theological Investigations (1961), pp.135ff.

Therefore, the word "God" in Bible times could be applied to anyone above others without contradicting monotheism. Witnesses promote a complete belief and knowledge of the Bible and so have no problem understanding when others are called "god" in the Bible.

The above is the chosen best answer to this question by Bar_Anerges.

Also see:

God and gods (Examining the Trinity)

"The Only True God" (Examining the Trinity)

Do Jehovah's Witnesses Deny Biblical Monotheism? (Jehovah's Witnesses United)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Are Jehovah's Witnesses Really a Cult? - Showing How This Label is Incorrect

People who oppose Jehovah's Witnesses like to use the word 'cult' to describe them because it has a general negative connotation. They are counting on people who are not familiar with Jehovah's Witnesses to simply accept this false label and then unknowingly repeat what they have been told.

The following will examine several common characteristics of cults and will show how Jehovah's Witnesses definitely do not share any of these characteristics.

Jehovah's Witnesses Are Not a Small, Local Group

Cults are regarded as being small, local groups. In contrast, Jehovah's Witnesses currently number over 7,ooo,ooo and can be found in almost every country of the world. The World Headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses is in New York. Located there is the Governing Body, a central group of experienced elders who oversee the worldwide congregation. (For more from the Official Website of Jehovah's Witnesses, see: How Jehovah's Witnesses Are Organized and Jehovah's Witnesses - Their Worldwide Organization and Work)

Jehovah's Witnesses Have Nothing to Hide

Cults are also regarded as encouraging their adherents to live in groups apart from the rest of society. Many also think of cults as being secretive about their activities or having something to hide.

In contrast, Jehovah's Witnesses live and work in the midst of other people. They have nothing to hide. In fact, they desire to tell anyone who is willing to listen about everything that they believe.

Their book Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom correctly notes: "Jehovah's Witnesses are in no sense a secret society. Their Bible-based beliefs are fully explained in publications that are available to anyone. Additionally, they put forth special effort to invite the public to attend meetings to see and hear for themselves what takes place." (See the VIDEO from the BBC that shows what a meeting inside a Kingdom Hall looks like.) (ALSO SEE: Our Congregation Meetings

Jehovah's Witnesses Do Not Follow a Living Human Leader

Cults members are also associated with following living human leaders.

Yet Jehovah's Witnesses do not look to any human, but rather to Jesus Christ, as their leader, as their leader. Jehovah’s Witnesses follow what Jesus taught and put it into practice. That is what it means to be a Christian. Accordingly, Jehovah’s Witnesses strive to adhere strictly to the precepts established by the first Christians. (ALSO SEE: Who Was Your Founder?)

Jehovah's Witnesses base all of their beliefs, their standards for conduct, and organizational procedures on the Bible. Their worship is a way of life, not a ritual devotion. (ALSO SEE: Are You an American Sect?)

Jehovah's Witnesses Are Financed Through Voluntary Contributions

Leaders of cults have been known to ask for money from their followers. Even what many consider to be 'mainstream' religions encourage their members to give them money through tithes, collection plates, or other means.

However, 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) No collections are ever taken at their meetings and they do not beg for money from the public. Any donations from interested persons are used to further the worldwide work of Bible education conducted by the Witnesses.

The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, a legal religious corporation that is used by Jehovah's Witnesses, was incorporated in 1884 in accordance with the Nonprofit Corporation Law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, U.S.A. This means that, by law it cannot be and it is not, a profit-making enterprise, nor do individuals make a profit through this Society. The Society's charter states: "It [the Society] does not contemplate pecuniary gain or profit, incidentally or otherwise, to its members, directors or officers."'

Even disinterested parties (such as the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet) plainly state that:

"The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania is a non-stock, not-for-profit organization." (ALSO SEE: How Is Your Work Financed?; and How is the Work of Jehovah’s Witnesses Funded?)

Don't Listen To Hearsay, Find Out For Yourself!

So instead of relying solely on hearsay and running the risk of parroting bad information, why not investigate this further for yourself? This way, one will be in a position to be properly informed as to the true faith and beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses.

The best way to find out more about Jehovah's Witnesses via the Internet is through the pages of their official website:

The Official Web Site of Jehovah's Witnesses The Official Jehovah's Witnesses Website Home Page

What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?

Search The Jehovah's Witnesses Official Web Site

Jehovah's Witnesses FAQs

Questions Often Asked by Interested People

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Do Jehovah's Witnesses Really Forbid Higher Learning (College Education)?

Contrary to what many opposers of Jehovah's Witnesses may say, the Watchtower and Bible Tract Society has never discouraged education.

Among Jehovah's Witnesses are dedicated workers and professionals of every sort, including university professors, doctors and other medical professionals, lawyers, and scientists. Here is just one example where one Jehovah's Witnesses' college education is promoted: 

A Nuclear Scientist Tells His Story (g04 1/22 pp. 19-23; Watchtower Online Library)

The Mischaracterization of Jehovah's Witnesses' Position Concerning Education

Opposers often attempt to mischaracterize Jehovah's Witnesses' position on this matter. College and education itself is not what is discouraged. Instead, the caution is placed on the attractiveness of the pursuit of wealth and the reminder of not losing focus on our main purpose as ministers.

From the 10/1/96 Watchtower, 'Providing for One's Household':

"There is no question that secular education has its advantages. But the Bible places a higher value upon a spiritual education, and God has given parents the responsibility to provide such instruction. (Deuteronomy 11:18, 19; Proverbs 3:13, 14)"

Also see: What Is the Best Education? - Benefit From the Best Education Available! (w05 10/15 pp. 4-7; Watchtower Online Library) 

How much formal education Jehovah's Witnesses pursue is a personal, conscientious decision which each person makes for himself or herself. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has been consistent in encouraging parents and their children to decide for themselves how much formal education to pursue. Note this quote from the 9/1/75 Watchtower, Questions from Readers; "How many years of secular education are advisable for children in Christian households?":

"It is not our purpose here to set out rules for Christian households. Rather, suggestions are offered as guidelines. Let parents and youths plan together for an adequate secular education that will enable the young people to meet their life interests and goals in a wholesome, honorable way. The well-trained youths of today will become tomorrow’s mature, hardworking servants of Jehovah. A balanced view of education now can help to make their enjoyment of God’s spiritual paradise complete."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

When Is Self-Defense Justified? Self-Defense, Guns - Links to Information

SELF-DEFENSE - Links to Information (INDEX; Watchtower Online Library)

When Is Self-Defense Justified? (g 6/08 pp. 10-11; Watchtower Online Library)

What About Self-Defense? (g 9/10 pp. 10-11; Watchtower Online Library)

"The Law permitted self-defense but restricted an individual’s right to fight for his property..." (Insight-2 pp. 450-451; Watchtower Online Library)

Self - Defense (Search Results From the Watchtower Online Library)

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

Monday, January 14, 2013

Why Do Jehovah's Witnesses Understand John 1:1 to Read, "...and the Word Was a god"?

Why Do Jehovah's Witnesses Understand John 1:1 to Read, "...and the Word Was a god"?

This Bible verse is often misused. In the King James Version, this Scripture reads: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God [Greek, ton the·on′], and the Word was God [the·os′].” This verse contains two forms of the Greek noun the·os′ (god). The first is preceded by ton (the), a form of the Greek definite article, and in this case the word the·on′ refers to Almighty God. In the second instance, however, the·os′ has no definite article.

In the New World Translation Bible (produced by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society - a legal organization in use by Jehovah’s Witnesses), John 1:1 reads: “In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” Some other translations render the last part of the verse to convey the thought that the Word was “divine,” or something similar. (A New Translation of the Bible, by James Moffatt; The New English Bible) Many translations, however, render the last part of John 1:1: “And the Word was God.”—The Holy BibleNew International Version; The Jerusalem Bible. So which is the correct translation of this verse?

Greek Grammar and Context Provide the Answer

Greek grammar and the context strongly indicate that the New World Translation rendering is correct and that “the Word” should not be identified as the “God” referred to earlier in the verse. (See John 1:1c Primer (Examining the Trinity). Also see the w09 4/1 pp. 18-19 article: A Text That Teaches the Trinity?)

Bible verses in the Greek language that have a construction similar to that of John 1:1 use the expression “a god.” For example, when referring to Herod Agrippa I, the crowds shouted: ‘It is a god speaking.’ And when Paul survived a bite by a poisonous snake, the people said: “He is a god.” (Acts 12:22; 28:3-6) It is in harmony with both Greek grammar and Bible teaching to speak of the Word as, not God, but “a god.”—John 1:1.

For instance, consider that John states that the Word was “with God.” But how can an individual be with someone and at the same time be that person? John 1:1 clearly phrases God as a separate person from the Word (Jesus). And since Jesus is written and identified in John 1:1 as a separate person from God (not just the Father), then that would positively exclude him as being God!

Commenting on this, Count Leo Tolstoy, the famous Russian novelist and religious philosopher, said:

"If it says that in the beginning was the...Word, and that the Word was...WITH God, it is impossible to go on and say that it was God. If it was God, it could stand in no relation to God." - The Four Gospels Harmonized and Translated, p. 30.

Moreover, as recorded at John 17:3, Jesus makes a clear distinction between himself and his heavenly Father. He calls his Father “the only true God.” And toward the end of his Gospel, John sums up matters by saying: “These have been written down that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God.” (John 20:31) Notice that Jesus is called, not God, but the Son of God. This additional information provided in the Gospel of John shows how John 1:1 should be understood. Jesus, the Word, is “a god” in the sense that he has a high position but is not the same as Almighty God.

Other Bibles That Render John 1:1c "a god"

The NWT is not the only Bible to render John 1:1c as "a god". Actually, there are many Bibles that render John 1:1 as "a God" or it's equivalent:

1808: “and the word was a god.” The New Testament in an Improved Version, Upon the Basis of Archbishop Newcome’s New Translation: With a Corrected Text.

1864: “and a god was the word.” The Emphatic Diaglott, interlinear reading, by Benjamin Wilson.

1928: “and the Word was a divine being.” La Bible du Centenaire, L’Evangile selon Jean, by Maurice Goguel.

1935: “and the Word was divine.” The Bible—An American Translation, by J. M. P. Smith and E. J. Goodspeed.

1946: “and of a divine kind was the Word.” Das Neue Testament, by Ludwig Thimme.

1958: “and the Word was a God.” The New Testament, by James L. Tomanek.

1975: “and a god (or, of a divine kind) was the Word.” Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Siegfried Schulz.

1978: “and godlike kind was the Logos.” Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Johannes Schneider.

Trinitarian Scholars Have Even Admitted That "the Word was *a* god"

Even a number of respected trinitarian scholars have admitted that "the Word was *a* god" is the literal translation at John 1:1c.

In addition to their comments below, W. E. Vine, Prof. C. H. Dodd (Director of the New English Bible project), and Murray J. Harris admit that this ("the Word was a god") is the literal translation, but, being trinitarians, they insist that it be interpreted and translated as "and the Word was God." Why? Because of a trinitarian bias only!

W. E. Vine - "a god was the Word" - p. 490, An Expository Dictionary of the New Testament.

C. H. Dodd - "The Word was a god" - Technical Papers for the Bible Translator, Jan., 1977.

Murray J. Harris - "the Word was a god" - p. 60, Jesus as God, Baker Book House, 1992.

Robert Young - "and a God (i.e. a Divine Being) was the Word" - Young's Concise Critical Bible Commentary.

Even Origen, the most knowledgeable of the early Christian Greek-speaking scholars, tells us that John 1:1c actually means "the Word [logos] was a god". - "Origen's Commentary on John," Book I, ch. 42 - Bk II, ch.3.

Origen's Commentary on John is "the first great work of Christian interpretation." Origen was certainly the most knowledgeable about NT (koine) Greek of any scholar. He studied it from early childhood and even taught it professionally from his teens onward. And this was during a time when it was a living language and, of course, well understood. - The Ante-Nicene Fathers, pp. 291-294, vol. X, Eerdmans Publ., 1990 printing.

The Sahidic Coptic Translation Reads John 1:1 as, "And the Word was *a* god."

It is also interesting to note that the Coptic language was spoken in Egypt in the centuries immediately following Jesus' earthly ministry, and the Sahidic dialect was an early literary form of the language. A significant fact concerning the Coptic language is that, unlike the Greek, it used an indefinite article ("a" or "an" in English).

The Sahidic Coptic translation DOES USE an indefinite article with the word 'god' in the final part of John 1:1 and when rendered into modern English, the translation reads: 'And the Word was a god.' (Coptic Translation of John 1:1-14)

The fact is that the New World Translation is not wrong in translating John 1:1 the way it does as some critics propose. In fact, these critics have it completely turned around. The absence of the indefinite article (a) at John 1:1c has been purposely mistranslated in most Trinitarian-produced Bibles to fit THEIR doctrine that Jesus is God.

For much more, see:

Was the Word “God” or “a god”? (w08 11/1 pp. 24-25; Watchtower Online Library)

"The Word Was God" (bh p. 201-p. 204 par. 2; Watchtower Online Library)

“Those Who Are Called ‘Gods’” (g05 4/22 pp. 8-9; Watchtower Online Library)

John 1:1 - Links to Information (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

1 John 5:7 and the King James Version

The King James Version (A. D. 1611) says at 1 Jn 5:7: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."

Of course even this would not mean the three are the one God as trinitarians want. The word for "one" here is in the neuter form, hen, which cannot mean "one God" since "God" is always in the masculine form in NT Greek, and grammatically adjectives (such as "one") applied to it must also be masculine (heis, masculine form).

NT Greek words meaning "one":

- hen is the neuter form for "one."
- heis is the masculine form for "one."
- mia is the feminine form for "one."

When the neuter "one" (hen) is applied to persons, it means "one thing." In other words they have become united in some thing such as "purpose," "will," etc. That is why Jesus prays to the Father "that they [Jesus' followers] may be one [hen, neuter] just as we are one [hen - neuter]." - Jn 17:22. Jesus, the Father, and Jesus' followers are all one [hen, neuter] in something. Of course they are all united in the Father's will and purpose! - see the study paper ONE.

Even though Christians have one will with Jesus and the Father, it certainly is not their wills which dominate; it is the will of the Father which they make their will also. And Jesus, too, subordinates his will to that of the Father so that, therefore, their will and purpose become one: the Father's alone. ("Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." - Luke 22:42, NIV. cf. Mark 14:36.)

There is no way that Jesus would pray at Jn 17:22 that Christians may be one "just as we (Jesus and the Father) are one" if he were truly God. In that case he would be praying that these Christians become "equally God" with him and the Father!

But even more important is the fact that John did not write the words found at 1 Jn 5:7 in the KJV! And we must consider why trinitarian scholars and copyists felt compelled to add it to the Holy Scriptures.
The only other Bibles which include this passage that I am aware of are the Catholic Douay Version (A. D. 1609), the New Life Version (1993), the New King James Version (1982), and the King James II Version (1982). These last two are modern translations which have as their stated purpose the preservation of the text and traditions of the King James Version and which, therefore, translate from the discredited Received Text.

Of these four Bibles the KJIIV at least indicates the unscriptural addition of 1 John 5:7 by writing it in all italics. And buried in the Preface is the admission that 1 Jn 5:7 (among others) is not to be accepted as true Scripture.

The New Life Version, however, claims to put an asterisk (*) to mark words or passages which are "missing in some of the early writings." And it does so in such passages as Mark 16:9-20 and John 8:1-11, but it does not do so at 1 Jn 5:7.

Since Greek was the "universal language" at the time the New Testament writers wrote and for many years thereafter, the earliest copies of the manuscripts of the New Testament were most often written in Koine Greek. Therefore the very best manuscripts (and the oldest) of New Testament writings in existence today are the most ancient (4th and 5th century) Greek manuscripts. These early Greek manuscripts were later translated into various other languages, including Latin. Although Bible translators often compare these ancient Greek manuscripts with NT manuscripts of other languages, they nearly always translate from a text that was composed from the oldest and best Greek manuscripts.

Highly respected trinitarian scholar, minister (Trinity Church), Professor (University of Glasgow and Marburg University), author (The Daily Study Bible Series, etc.), and Bible translator Dr. William Barclay states the following about this passage:

Note on 1 John 5:7

"In the Authorized Version [KJV] there is a verse which we have altogether omitted [in Barclay's NT translation]. It reads, "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one."

"The Revised Version omits this verse, and does not even mention it in the margin, and none of the newer translations includes it. It is quite certain that it does not belong to the original text.

"The facts are as follows. First, it does not occur in any Greek manuscript earlier than the 14th century. The great manuscripts belong to the 3rd and 4th centuries [most scholars date them to the 4th and 5th centuries], and it occurs in none of them. None of the great early fathers of the Church knew it. Jerome's original version of the [Latin]Vulgate does not include it. The first person to quote it is a Spanish heretic called Priscillian who died in A. D. 385. Thereafter it crept gradually into the Latin texts of the New Testament although, as we have seen, it did not gain an entry to the Greek manuscripts.

"How then did it get into the text? Originally it must have been a scribal gloss or comment in the margin. Since it seemed to offer good scriptural evidence for the doctrine of the Trinity [and since there was no good scriptural evidence for this new doctrine introduced by the Roman church in 325 A. D.], through time it came to be accepted by theologians as part of the text, especially in those early days of scholarship before the great manuscripts were discovered. [More likely it was written in the margin of an existing manuscript with the intention that future trinitarian copyists actually add it to all new copies. - RDB.]

"But how did it last, and how did it come to be in the Authorized [King James] Version? The first Greek testament to be published was that of Erasmus in 1516. Erasmus was a great scholar and, knowing that this verse was not in the original text, he did not include it in his first edition. By this time, however, theologians [trinitarians, of course] were using the verse. It had, for instance, been printed in the Latin Vulgate of 1514. Erasmus was therefore criticized for omitting it. His answer was that if anyone could show him a Greek manuscript which had the words in it, he would print them in his next edition. Someone did produce a very late and very bad text in which the verse did occur in Greek; and Erasmus, true to his word but very much against his judgment and his will, printed the verse in his 1522 edition.

"The next step was that in 1550 Stephanus printed his great edition of the Greek New Testament. This 1550 edition of Stephanus was called - he gave it that name himself - The Received Text, and it was the basis of the Authorized Version [KJV] and of the Greek text for centuries to come. That is how this verse got into the Authorized Version. There is, of course, nothing wrong with it [if the trinity were really true as trinitarians like Barclay himself want!]; but modern scholarship has made it quite certain that John did not write it and that it is a much later commentary on, and addition to, his words; and that is why all modern translations omit it." - pp. 110-111, The Letters of John and Jude, The Daily Study Bible Series, Revised Edition, The Westminster Press, 1976. [Material in brackets and emphasis added by me.]

Highly respected (and highly trinitarian) New Testament Bible scholar Dr. A. T. Robertson writes:

"For there are three who bear witness (hoti treis eisin hoi marturountes). At this point the Latin Vulgate gives the words in the Textus Receptus [Received Text], found in no Greek MS. [Manuscript] save two late cursives (162 in the Vatican Library of the fifteenth century, 34 of the sixteenth century [1520 A.D.] in Trinity College, Dublin). Jerome [famed trinitarian, 342-420 A. D.] did not have it. Cyprian applies the language of the Trinity [ ? - - see UBS Commentary below] and Priscillian [excommunicated 380 A. D., executed 385 A. D.] has it. Erasmus did not have it in his first edition, but rashly offered to insert it [in his next edition of 1522] if a single Greek MS. had it and [ms.] 34 [1520 A.D.] was produced with the insertion, as if made to order. The spurious addition is: en toi ouranoi ho pater, ho logos kai to hagion pneuma kai houtoi hoi treis hen eisin kai treis eisin hoi marturountes en tei gei (in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and the three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth). The last clause belongs to verse 8. The fact and the doctrine of the Trinity do not depend on this spurious addition." - p. 240, Vol. VI, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Broadman Press, 1960.

The highly respected (and trinitarian) United Bible Societies has published a commentary on the New Testament text. It discusses 1 John 5:5-7 as follows]:

"After marturountes "bearing witness"] the Textus Receptus [Received Text] adds the following: en to ourano, o Pater, o Logos, kai to Agion Pneuma kai outoi oi treis en eisi. (8) kai treis eisin oi marturountes en te ge. That these words are spurious and have no right to stand in the New Testament is certain in the light of the following considerations.

"(A) EXTERNAL EVIDENCE. (1) The passage is absent from every known Greek manuscript except four, and these contain the passage in what appears to be a translation from a late recension of the Latin Vulgate. These four manuscripts are ms. 61 [this is ms. 34 in the earlier numbering system used by Robertson above], a sixteenth century manuscript formerly at Oxford, now at Dublin; ms. 88, a twelfth century manuscript at Naples, which has the passage written in the margin by a modern hand; ms. 629 [ms. 162, Robertson], a fourteenth or fifteenth century manuscript in the Vatican; and ms. 635, an eleventh century manuscript which has the passage written in the margin by a seventeenth century hand.

"(2) The passage is quoted by none of the Greek Fathers, who, had they known it, would most certainly have employed it in the Trinitarian controversies (Sabellian and Arian [certainly at the Nicene Council of 325]). Its first appearance in Greek is in a Greek version of the (Latin) Acts of the Lateran Council in 1215.

"(3) The passage is absent from the manuscripts of all ancient versions (Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Arabic, Slavonic), except the Latin; and it is not found (a) in the Old Latin in its early form (Tertullian Cyprian Augustine), or in the Vulgate (b) as issued by Jerome (codex Fuldensis [copied A. D. 541-46] and codex Amiatinus [copied before A. D. 716]) or (c) as revised by Alcuin (first hand of codex Vercellensis [ninth century]).

"The earliest instance of the passage is in a fourth century Latin treatise entitled Liber Apologeticus (chap. 4), attributed either to the Spanish heretic Priscillian (died about 385) or to his follower Bishop Instantius. ....

"(B) INTERNAL PROBABILITIES. (1) As regards transcriptional probability, if the passage were original, no good reason can be found to account for its omission, either accidentally or intentionally, by copyists of hundreds of Greek manuscripts, and by translators of ancient versions.

"(2) As regards intrinsic probability, the passage makes an awkward break in the sense." - pp. 716-718, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, United Bible Societies, 1971.

Notice the comments concerning this disputed passage found in the respected trinitarian reference work, The Expositor's Greek Testament:

It says in a note for 1 John 5:7 (as found in the Received Text and the KJV):

"A Latin interpolation, certainly spurious. (I) Found in no Gk. MS. [Greek Manuscript] except two late minuscules - 162 (Vatican), 15th c., the Lat. Vg. [Latin Vulgate] Version with a Gk. text adapted thereto; 34 (Trin. Coll., Dublin), 16th c. (2) Quoted by none of the Gk Fathers. Had they known it, they would have employed it in the Trinitarian controversies (Sabellian and Arian [325 A.D.]). (3) Found in none of the early versions - in Vg. but not as it [originally] left the hands of St. Jerome." - p. 195, Vol. 5, Eerdmans Publishing Co.

The very trinitarian Zondervan Publishing House has published a book by trinitarian scholars Dr. Sakae Kubo and Prof. Walter Specht entitled So Many Versions? It is an examination and critique of the most popular Bible translations of the 20th century. In the chapter devoted to the New King James Version [NKJV] this book says:

"In the original printing of the NKJV, the famous Trinitarian passage in 1 John 5:7-8a had the only textual footnote - one that advised the reader that these words "Are from the Latin Bible, although three Greek mss. [manuscripts] from the fifteenth century and later also contain them" (the note has since been revised to read "four or five very late Greek manuscripts...."). It is well known that the first and second editions of Erasmus's Greek New Testament lacked this passage because he did not find it in any Greek manuscripts available to him. He was so certain that it was a recent addition to the text that when he was criticized for not including it he promised to insert it in his next edition if anyone could produce a single [Greek] manuscript that contained it. Such a manuscript (Codex Montfortianus, #61 of the sixteenth century) was finally shown him in England, and he kept his promise in his third edition of 1522 [the early sixteenth century]. But this passage clearly had no place in the autograph [actual writings by John] of John's first epistle." - pp. 293-294.

So, even those who finally added this spurious text to the English Bible translations knew it was not written by John! But, even with many revisions and thousands of changes to the KJV, this trinitarian tampering with the word of God has remained for nearly 400 years!

The trinitarian authors of So Many Versions? (who were very biased in favor of trinitarian interpretations in other parts of their book) were so upset by this modern Bible's use of clearly spurious passages such as this that they continued:

"The brochure advertising this revision [the NKJV] gives as the purpose of the project "to preserve and improve the purity of the King James Version." To improve the purity would surely include the removal from the text of any scribal additions that were not a part of the autographs [original writing]. No devout reader of the Bible wants any portion of the sacred text as penned by the original authors removed. But neither should he want later additions, in which some passages have crept into the text, published as part of the Word of God." - p. 294, So Many Versions?, Zondervan Publ., 1983 ed.

I find that my more recent copy of the NKJV does not even contain the note that So Many Versions? mentioned above. There is no indication whatsoever in my New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, #412B that 1 John 5:7 is anything but the original inspired writing! And, yet, the publishers and editors found room for many other notes and references in this same copy (see Hosea 1:6, 9, for example.) They also found room to furnish an explanation of the symbol they used on the title page:
"Title page logo:The triquetra (from a Latin word meaning 'three-cornered') is an ancient symbol for the Trinity. It comprises three interwoven arcs, distinct yet equal and inseparable, symbolizing that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct yet equal Persons and indivisibly One God." - p. ii.

I also see that my trinitarian-edited and published King James Version, Collins Press, 1955 (with center column of notes and references) also gives no indication whatsoever of the clear, spurious nature of 1 John 5:7! This is in spite of the fact that the original translators of 1611, themselves, and all the many revisers for the last 380 years have known that this verse was not added to the scriptures until many hundred years after John wrote this letter. Even the earlier English Bibles on which the KJV was based (and from which much was copied) did not include this spurious passage.

Trinitarian scholar Robert Young [Young's Analytical Concordance of the Bible; Young's Literal Translation of the Bible; etc.] writes in his Concise Critical Commentary:

"These words are wanting [lacking] in all the Greek MSS except two, in all the oldest Ancient Versions, and in all the quotations of v. 6-8 in the ancient Fathers before A.D. 475" - Note for 1 John 5:7, Baker Book House, 1977.

Noted Lutheran scholar and Bible translator, William F. Beck (trinitarian, of course) states in a footnote for 1 John 5:7 in his The New Testament in the Language of Today, 1964 printing:
"Our oldest manuscripts do not have vv. 7b-8a: "in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. And there are three testifying on earth." Early in the 16th century an editor translated these words from Latin manuscripts and inserted them in his Greek New Testament. Erasmus took them from this Greek New Testament and inserted them in the third edition (1522) of his Greek New Testament. Luther used the text prepared by Erasmus. But even though the inserted words taught the Trinity, Luther ruled them out and never had them in his translation. In 1550 Bugenhagen objected to these words "on account of the truth." In 1574 [about 30 years after Luther's death] Feyerabend, a printer, added them to Luther's text, and in 1596 [in spite of the fact that scholars knew it was spurious] they appeared in the Wittenberg copies. They were not in Tyndale's or Coverdale's Bible or in the Great Bible [which were used by the KJV translators, and often copied nearly verbatim by them]."

The following modern trinitarian Bibles do not include the spurious words found in the KJV at 1 Jn 5:7: Revised Standard Version; New Revised Standard Version; American Standard Version; New International Version; New American Standard Bible; Living Bible; Good News Bible; New English Bible; Revised English Bible; New American Bible (1970 and 1991 editions); Jerusalem Bible; New Jerusalem Bible; Modern Language Bible; Holy Bible: Easy-to-Read Version; An American Translation (Smith-Goodspeed); and translations by Moffatt; C. B. Williams; William Beck; Phillips; Rotherham; Lamsa; Byington; Barclay; etc.

[[Added from information found on an internet site:

Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), "one of the greatest historians who ever lived" explains the reason for the removal of 1 Jn 5:7 (as found in KJV) from most modern Bibles:

"Of all the manuscripts now extant, above fourscore in number, some of which are more than 1200 years old, the orthodox copies of the Vatican, of the Complutensian editors, of Robert Stephens are becoming invisible; and the two manuscripts of Dublin and Berlin are unworthy to form an exception...In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the Bibles were corrected by LanFrank, Archbishop of Canterbury, and by Nicholas, a cardinal and librarian of the Roman church, secundum Ortodoxam fidem. Notwithstanding these corrections, the passage is still wanting in twenty-five Latin manuscripts, the oldest and fairest; two qualities seldom united, except in manuscripts....The three witnesses have been established in our Greek Testaments by the prudence of Erasmus; the honest bigotry of the Complutensian editors; the typographical fraud, or error, of Robert Stephens in the placing of a crotchet and the deliberate falsehood, or strange misapprehension, of Theodore Beza." - Decline and fall of the Roman Empire, IV, Edward Gibbon, p. 418.

Gibbon was defended in his findings by his noted contemporary, British scholar Richard Porson who also published conclusive proofs that the verse of 1 John 5:7 as found in the KJV was only first inserted by the Church into a few Latin texts around 400 C.E. - Secrets of Mount Sinai, James Bentley, pp. 30-33).

Regarding Porson's clear proof, Gibbon later said:

"His structures are founded in argument, enriched with learning, and enlivened with wit, and his adversary neither deserves nor finds any quarter at his hands. The evidence of the three heavenly witnesses would now be rejected in any court of justice; but prejudice is blind, authority is deaf, and our vulgar Bibles will ever be polluted by this spurious text."

To this day, the Bible in the hands of the majority of Christians, the King James Version (KJV), also known as the Authorized Version (AV), still unhesitatingly includes this verse as the "inspired" word of God (often without so much as a note to inform the reader that nearly all respected scholars of Christendom acknowledge it as a non-scriptural late addition by uninspired trinitarian copyists).
also tells us:

Peake's Commentary on the Bible:

"The famous interpolation after 'three witnesses' is not printed even in RSV, and rightly. It cites the heavenly testimony of the Father, the logos, and the Holy Spirit, but is never used in the early Trinitarian controversies. No respectable Greek MS contains it. Appearing first in a late 4th-cent. Latin text, it entered the Vulgate and finally the NT of Erasmus."]]

did trinitarian copyists and scholars think it necessary to construct this "scripture" and actually add it to the Holy Scriptures? What, then, does this tell us about the evaluation of the rest of the "evidence" for a trinity by these very same trinitarians? Isn't this most terrible, blasphemous action by them actually an admission that the rest of the "evidence" for a 3-in-one God is completely inadequate? Why else would they do such a desperate, terrible thing?

does this tell us about those men who first constructed the "trinity doctrine" and forced it on an unwilling Roman Church in 325 A. D. at the Nicene Council? (See HIST and CREEDS study papers.)

WHYdo so many trinitarians feel it necessary to "preserve" this clearly dishonest King James Version tradition in not only the most-used King James Version itself (which has been revised many times with thousands of changes in its 400-year history while still leaving this spurious verse), but even in at least three modern translations (NKJV, KJIIV, NLV)?

For more, see:

1 John 5:7 (KJV) (Examining the Trinity)

Bible Book Number 62—1 John (si pp. 256-258; Watchtower Online Library)

1 John 5:7, 8 rs p. 405-p. 426; Watchtower Online Library)

Spirit (Insight-2 pp. 1017-1027; Watchtower Online Library)

The 'Johannine Comma' - 1 John 5:7 (IN Defense of the NWT)

But Your Bible's Been Changed! (From God's Word)

Newton proved that the words in 1 John 5:7 were spurious... (Pastor Russell)

How does the accuracy of the New World Translation Bible compare to other translations? (Search For Bible Truths)

1 John 5:7 proof of the Trinity? (Search For Bible Truths)

"Word" and 1 John 5:7, KJV ("Oneness") (Jehovah's Witnesses Questions and Answers)

"Jehovah" in the New Testament (end notes) (SFBT, 10th par. end note #1, 10th par. "Zondervan" ) (Search For Bible Truths)

(Also see the SCRIPTURE INDEX.)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Does the Bible Really Describe the Earth as Flat?

What the Bible Actually Says About the Shape and Support of the Earth

The Bible is not a science textbook nor was it intended to be. It is, however, a book of truth, and truth can stand the test of time. (John 17:17) The accuracy of the Bible has not been threatened by scientific discoveries. In fact, when it touches on matters related to science, it is completely free from ancient “scientific” theories that proved to be mere myths.

So when it comes to the actual shape of the earth, Isaiah 40:22 describes the earth as seen from above as being spherical. The Douay-Rheims Bible reads:

"It is he that sitteth upon the GLOBE of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as locusts: he that stretcheth out the heavens as nothing, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in." (Some Bibles say "Circle" or "Sphere".)

Skeptics point out that many Bibles refer to the circle (instead of "globe") and automatically assume the word translated here "circle" (in Hebrew: chuwg) conveys the concept of a flat, circular, pancake-like earth. However is must be noted that the Hebrews had no separate word for a three-dimensional circle ("sphere") thus the word covered a circle both in its two AND three dimensional sense. Since this is indeed the shape of our planet seen two dimensionally from above - as the context of the verse indicates, globe/sphere are both acceptable and scientifically accurate.

(Some have claimed that the Hebrew word "duwr" is a word for sphere. However, when taking into consideration Isa. 29:3, we see that in this case "duwr" equals a circle (or to encircle) and not a ball. Therefore, the writer's decision in Isaiah 40:22 not to use duwr is not proof positive that he meant (flat) circle and not a sphere.)

Additionally, before our scientific age, people concluded that something must have been holding the earth up. One ancient myth had the earth being placed on the back of four gigantic elephants standing on the back of a giant turtle. However, the Bible accurately states that the earth is suspended in space without any visible means of support. "He...hangeth the earth upon nothing." (Job 26:7)

What About Certain Scriptures That Some Point to as Indicating that the Earth is Flat?

Most of the verses given as 'flat earth' examples are simply poetic language and are not scientific statements. Even today (in our scientific age) people refer to "sunrise" and "sunset" (even though we know that the sun doesn't literally go up and down). And it would be hard to read a love poem without hearing that someone would go to the "ends of earth" for someone they love.

Yet some Bible critics seem to exist in a world without the usual figures of speech. The fact is that the Bible is full of poetic figures of speech (employing various linguistic tools such as similes, idioms, etc.) Let's examine these supposed 'flat earth' Scriptural examples (Mt. 4:8; Dan. 4:11; Rev. 7:1; Job 38:12-13 and Isa. 11:12) and see that they are obviously just poetic language and/or visions and were not to have been meant to be taken literally.

Matthew 4:8

The Bible often refers to people being "shown" things in a vision. Matthew 4:8 is such an instance where Jesus is "shown" all the kingdoms of the world. Now even if the Bible was extolling that the earth was flat here, it would still be physically impossible with the human eye to see nations and kingdoms literally thousands of miles away. In order to "see" China or the Incas in what came to be known as South America from a desert in Palestine Jesus would still have to have been given a vision. So since we are talking about a "vision", why would one aspect of it have to be considered literal?

Daniel 4:11

Another vision that is clearly symbolic is found at Daniel 4:11:

"The tree grew up and became strong, and its very height finally reached the heavens, and it was visible to the extremity of the whole earth."

Can a literal tree really "reach the heavens"? Again, even if the Bible was hinting that the earth was flat here, it would still be physically impossible for the human eye to see this tree "to the extremity of the whole earth." And again, since we are talking about a "vision", why would one aspect of it have to be considered literal?

Revelation 7:1

"After this I saw four angels standing upon the four corners of the Earth, holding tight the four winds of the Earth, that no wind might blow upon the Earth or upon the sea or upon any tree." (NWT)
This verse is another vision in a book filled with symbolism. Revelation 7:1 refers to angels standing at the “four corners” of the earth and is obviously a symbolic reference to the cardinal directions: north, south, east, and west. This expression cannot be taken to prove that the Hebrews understood the earth to be square. The number four is often used to denote that which is fully rounded out, as it were, just as we have four directions and sometimes employ the expressions “to the ends of the earth,” “to the four corners of the earth,” in the sense of embracing all the earth. (Compare Ezek. 1:15-17 and Luke 13:29.)

Job 38:12-13

"...take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it"

Clearly Job is using poetic language to portray the image of a cloth being "shaken" of debris or some other unwanted element. In this symbolic sense, "edges" mean extremities; the point being that no part of the "cloth" escapes being shaken. Even today we have singers that will go to the "ends of the earth" for their love. Few people have a problem understanding that they mean that they would travel as far as possible to prove their love.

Isaiah 11:12
"He [God] will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth."
Does this verse try to literally convey the idea that the earth is square? No. The Hebrews had words to convey the idea of an angle or a geometric corner such as ziovyoh and paioh/krnouth. But the word used here is kanaph which conveys the idea of extremity. Clearly, Isaiah 11:12 is figuratively referring to the four cardinal points (language not uncommon today). This verse clearly is speaking about gathering people from the furthest point in every direction.

Excellent Recommended Read:

Reasons to Trust the Bible - #4 Scientific Accuracy (g 11/07 p. 8; Watchtower Online Library)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

How Important or Essential are the Subjects of Opposers of Jehovah's Witnesses?

Most other religions have proved that they will not change doctrines such as the Trinity, the immortal soul, and hell fire even though their own scholars admit these beliefs are not taught in Scripture. In contrast, Jehovah's Witnesses have always been willing to change any belief in order to harmonize better with increased knowledge of Scriptural teaching.

In reality, everything that opposers of Jehovah's Witnesses believe to be so important today is comparatively inconsequential. While Jehovah's Witnesses still adjust minor understandings of prophecy and periphery beliefs, major doctrines will not be changed because the doctrinal knowledge has increased so much that any recent changes have not been to doctrine but simple refinements in knowledge.

Opposers of Jehovah's Witnesses constantly have to go back many decades or more to find significant changes. Any recent adjustments in Witnesses' understandings must be over-exaggerated by opposers who cannot disprove the doctrines of Witnesses nor support their own beliefs Scripturally. This is why views that were presented in ancient articles by the early Bible Students just does not matter nor does it disprove what Jehovah's Witnesses believe now.

The very fact that opposers of Witnesses constantly resort to non-essential (and many times, ridiculous) arguments only proves that they realize that they have no real evidence against their beliefs.

The essential teachings of the Watchtower organization should convince any interested person which organization is the one organization. Because when considering only these few essentials even, it becomes obvious that there is either only one organization today being guided by Jehovah's spirit or there is none.

As Peter said when even Jesus taught some things that stumbled his followers who didn't completely understand,

"Who shall we go to? You have the MESSAGE OF ETERNAL LIFE" - John 6:68 The Jerusalem Bible.

Many who became Jehovah's Witnesses came to this same conclusion in spite of some doubts about the certainty of various other teachings and scriptural interpretations by the Watchtower Society. Some of these teachings can seem quite important, but, even if wrong, these are not really the "messages of eternal life".

Shouldn't people hope to follow the God-appointed leadership on earth which has "the message of eternal life" even if it tells them a few things they personally find difficult to accept? Even if they believe they can prove it is probably wrong in certain of these secondary areas? After all, "Who else is there to go to?" Who else has the message of eternal life?

It's not worth being "right" and end up risk losing a hope of everlasting life for it. There must be priorities in all things. Being right in one area does not compensate for being wrong in a greater area. For instance, who would choose an operation to remove a small non-harmful blemish which may be causing some slight irritation when there is a distinct possibility that the operation itself will lead to death?

Also see:
Organization and Obedience (SFBT)

United by LOVE OF GOD (WBTS)

Was Johannes Greber a "source" for the New World Translation?

This translation was used occasionally **in support** [NOTE: _not_ as a source] of renderings of Matthew 27:52, 53 and John 1:1, as given in the New World Translation and other authoritative Bible versions. But as indicated in a foreword to the **1980 edition** [1] of The New Testament by Johannes Greber, this translator relied on “God’s Spirit World” [as opposed to Bible scholarship] to clarify for him how he should translate difficult passages. It is stated: “His wife, a medium of God’s Spiritworld was often instrumental in conveying the correct answers from God’s Messengers to Pastor Greber.” The Watchtower has deemed it improper to make use of a translation that has such a close rapport with spiritism. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) The scholarship that forms the basis for the rendering of the above-cited texts in the New World Translation is sound and for this reason does not depend at all on Greber’s translation for authority. Nothing is lost, therefore, by ceasing to use his New Testament. [2]

[1] As opposed to the 1937 edition previously used. (Watchtower 1962 9/15 p. 554 “The Word”—Who Is He? According to John.)

[2] Watchtower 1983 4/1 p. 31 Questions From Readers.

For more responses to this question, see:
"Jehovah's Witnesses, was Johannes Greber a "source" for the New World Translation?" (Y/A)

For links and pages that defend the New World Translation, see:
Index of Links and Pages that Defend the New World Translation

How Old is the Religion of Jehovah's Witnesses?

"The modern-day organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses began at the end of the 19th century. At that time, a small group of Bible students who lived near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the United States, began a systematic analysis of the Bible. They compared the doctrines taught by the churches with what the Bible really teaches. They began publishing what they learned in books, newspapers, and the journal that is now called The Watchtower—Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom.

Among that group of sincere Bible students was a man named Charles Taze Russell. While Russell took the lead in the Bible education work at that time and was the first editor of The Watchtower, he was not the founder of a new religion. The goal of Russell and the other Bible Students, as the group was then known, was to promote the teachings of Jesus Christ and to follow the practices of the first-century Christian congregation. Since Jesus is the Founder of Christianity, we view him as the founder of our organization.—Colossians 1:18-20." - Who Was Your Founder? (JW.ORG)

Click on any of the following links to view:

How old is the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses? (rs p. 199-p. 208, Jehovah’s Witnesses; Watchtower Online Library)

JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES - Links to Information (INDEX; Watchtower Online Library)

How Old is the Religion of Jehovah's Witnesses? (Search For Bible Truths)

What are some early Christian writings that support Jehovah's Witnesses' teachings? (Search For Bible Truths)

Are Jehovah's Witnesses an American religion? (Search For Bible Truths)

"What Have Jehovah's Witnesses Witnessed?" - How Did Jehovah's Witnesses Get Their Name?

Many people who wish to ridicule Jehovah's Witnesses often resort to asking the same old, childish question: "What Have Jehovah's Witnesses Witnessed?"

However, this question may prompt some to consider a legitimate and somewhat related question, "How Did Jehovah's Witnesses Get Their Name?"

The key here is to understand exactly what "witness" means in this context.

According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, "the concept of witness [is used] both in the sense of witness to ascertainable facts and also in that of witness to truths, i.e., the making known and confessing of convictions." So a witness relates facts from direct personal knowledge, or he proclaims views or truths of which he is convinced.

So a "Witness" is someone that speaks publically about what he knows to be true. Of course no human has ever literally seen God (John 1:18), but Jehovah's Witnesses realize that God has asked his faithful servants to be His Witnesses and to tell others about Him:

"Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen;" (Isa. 43:10) - ASV

Isa. 43:10 also corresponds with Acts 15:14 where it says that God will turn "his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name." (NWT)

According to the Bible, the line of Witnesses of Jehovah reaches back to faithful Abel. Hebrews 11:4-12:1 mentions this line as a "great a cloud of WITNESSES surrounding us."

The Bible says that Jesus Christ was the foremost witness of Jehovah: "These are the things that the Amen says, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation by God." (Rev. 3:14) Considering the definition of "witness" mentioned above, Jesus said that it was his Father's name that he made manifest. (John 17:6)

For more, see:

How We Came to Be Known as Jehovah’s Witnesses (Pastor Russell)

Why Jehovah's Witnesses Are Not False Prophets - Does the Watchtower Society Really Claim to be an INSPIRED Prophet?

Most anti-Jehovah's Witness writers who falsely accuse the Watchtower Society of being a "false prophet" use a study article for Jehovah's Witnesses found in the April 1, 1972 Watchtower Magazine as a proof. They choose this because, in spite of the multitudinous evidence to the contrary, it is the only one they can find where it seems to say that Jehovah's Witnesses consider themselves a "prophet."

But does the Watchtower Society really claim to be an inspired prophet, receiving information directly (and therefore perfectly) from God?

The Watchtower has said:

"We have not the gift of prophecy." - January 1883, page 425.

"Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible." - December 15, 1896, page 306.

"[the fact that some have Jehovah's spirit] does not mean those now serving as Jehovah's Witnesses are inspired. It does not mean that the writings in this magazine, The Watchtower, are inspired and infallible and without mistakes." - May 15, 1947, page 157.

"The Watchtower does not claim to be inspired in its utterances, nor is it dogmatic." - August 15, 1950, page 263.

"The brothers preparing these publications are not infallible. Their writings are not inspired as are those of Paul and the other Bible writers. (2 Tim. 3:16) And so, at times, it has been necessary, as understanding became clearer, to correct views. (Prov. 4:18)" - February 15, 1981, page 19.

No, as the preface to every Watchtower magazine for the year 1972 (including, of course, the April 1, 1972 issue which had the article, "They Shall Know That a Prophet Was Among Them") says:

"No, `The Watchtower' is NO INSPIRED PROPHET, but it follows and explains a Book of prophecy ....— Which Book? The Sacred Bible of the Holy Scriptures, written by inspiration in the name of the creator of heaven and earth, the only living and true God."

C. T. Russell wrote in an October 1, 1907 WT article:

"A dear Brother inquires, Can we feel absolutely sure that the Chronology set forth in the Dawn-Studies is correct? - That the harvest began in 1874 and will end in A.D. 1914....?"

"We answer," Russell continues, "as we have frequently done before in the Dawns and Towers and orally and by letter, that we have never claimed that they were knowledge, nor based upon indisputable evidence, facts, knowledge; our claim has always been that they are based on faith. We have set forth the evidence as plainly as possible and stated the conclusions of faith we draw from them....

"Many have examined these evidences and have accepted them; others equally bright do not endorse them....

"We neither urge nor insist upon our views as infallible, nor do we smite or abuse those who disagree; but regard as `brethren' all sanctified believers in the precious blood.

"On the contrary, it is those who differ who smite us and speak evil of us .... They are our critics who always claim the infallibility. We go humbly onward following the Apostle's example and words, `We believe and therefore speak,' whether others hear or forbear to hear. Is not this in accord with the Spirit of Christ? ....

"But some of those who come to a trifling point on which they disagree seem to imagine that the entire harvest work must be overthrown, or at least stopped, until they get their little jot or tittle satisfactorily adjusted." ....

"If, therefore, dearly beloved, it should turn that our chronology is all wrong, we may conclude that with it we have had much advantage everyway. If the attainment of our glorious hopes and present joys in the Lord should cost us such disappointment as our friends fear, we should rejoice and count it cheap!"

And in the Jan. 1, 1911 WT, Russell wrote:

"Suppose that our chronological calculations (never set forth as infallible) should prove to be fallible and in error. Our conclusion would merely be that the error could not be very great ....

"If, then, it should prove eventually that the crisis of earthly government will not be reached by the end of 1914, should we not be very faithful anyway, and remember that had it not been for that alarm clock which helped awaken us from the worldly stupor, we might not have been sufficiently awake to appreciate and enjoy the wonderful spiritual blessings which daily crown our lives?"

Something Other Than an Inspired Prophet Was Meant by the Word "Prophet"

So, how would a Witness who has read the preface to his Watchtower magazine, which clearly shows `The Watchtower' is not an inspired prophet, understand the 1972 article "They Shall Know That a Prophet Was Among Them"? Why, obviously something other than an inspired prophet was meant by the word "prophet" in that article, and what could be more obvious than that it was the basic meaning of the word as used by the ancient Bible writers that was intended, as `The Watchtower' has explained for many years in its reference works?

Notice how this Jan. 1, 1971 Watchtower magazine explains it, for example.

"Jehovah's people today .... are having a share in the fulfillment of the prophecy, `your sons and your daughters will certainly prophesy.' (Joel 2:28) Not that these prophesy in the sense of foretelling events under inspiration, but rather in that they are making public proclamation of the inspired dreams and visions long ago recorded. They prophesy in the sense of being God's spokesmen. That this is one of the meanings of `prophesy' is apparent from the fact that Jehovah God appointed Aaron to be prophet to his brother Moses. Aaron did not foretell things to Moses, but he served as Moses' spokesman or mouthpiece - Ex. 7:1. - p. 32. (Compare WT, Oct. 1, 1961, p. 593.)"

Watchtower Society's Use of Quotation Marks Show Different Meaning For the Word "Prophet"

But to make it even clearer and less liable to misunderstanding, The Watchtower Society wrote the word in such a manner in that 1 April 1972 WT article that everyone should have known that "prophet" was being used in a special sense.

You see, quotation marks have a number of uses. There are two times when quotation marks are used around a single word (such as "prophet"). One is when you are talking about it as a word. For example: The word "is" was used as a verb in the last sentence. Or: we have discussed the fundamental meaning of the word "prophet." Another use for quotation marks around a single word is when the writer is indicating that he is using that word in a special sense, different from how the reader might ordinarily understand it.

The Handbook of Effective Writing, Moore, 1966, p.145, explains it:

"Double quotation marks are used to enclose ... a word used in an unusual way."

And The Guide and Handbook for Writing, Griggs-Webster, 1964, p. 487, says:

"Use quotation marks to indicate a word used in a different sense than someone else has used it."

For example, the Watchtower Society has also taught the importance of Christian women being "daughters" of Sarah. - p. 264, Life Everlasting in the Freedom of the Sons of God (Also see p. 162: "bride," "wife," "rock-mass"). Persons with no regard for truth (ravening wolves in sheep's clothing) could take such statements and insist that the Watchtower Society teaches that you must be a physical Jew (or at least a literal physical descendant of Sarah) in order to be a Christian woman. This is obviously untrue and the use of quotation marks around "daughters" helps show that the Watchtower Society intended a figurative meaning: that Christian women are to be similar to Sarah only in certain respects! (1 Peter 3:6)

In the 1 April 1972 Watchtower article in question the word "prophet" was enclosed with quotation marks at least 12 different times when the word was applied to the Watchtower Society. E.g.,

"He had a "prophet" to warn them. This "prophet" was not one man, but was a body of men and women.... Today they are known as Jehovah's Christian witnesses." - p. 197.

The quotation marks alone tell the reader that "prophet" as applied to Jehovah's Witnesses in that article is not to be understood as an inspired Biblical prophet but in a different sense.

It is intellectually (and morally) very dishonest to accuse the Watchtower Society of being a false prophet in the complete Biblical sense of an inspired prophet (including inspired prediction of future events) if the accuser is aware of that society's teaching on the subject (or even understands the common meanings of quotation mark use).

The Watchtower Society Has Always Taught That the Miraculous Gift of Prophesying to Foretell Future Events Ended With the Death of the Last Apostle

The Watchtower Society has also taught (from the beginning, I believe) that the miraculous gifts of the spirit (including the gift of inspired prophecy) were no longer given to earthly men after the death of the last Apostle.

Examine these statements found in the Aid book and a 1971 Watchtower magazine:

"Evidently, with the death of the apostles, the transmittal of the gifts of the Spirit ended, and the miraculous gifts of the spirit ceased altogether as those having received these gifts passed off the earthly scene." - - - - "Prophesying was a greater gift than speaking in tongues .... the particular ones having the miraculous gift of prophesying were able to foretell future events, as did Agabus." - Aid, pp. 655, 656.

1971 Watchtower, pp. 502, 503, 504: Speaking of the first century miraculous gifts of the spirit -

"The gift of `prophesying' included, besides speaking the magnificent things of God, the inspired ability to speak accurately of things to come. This inspired foretelling of events seems to have been generally limited, however, to things that affected the congregation at that time, enabling it to meet the foreseen situation, as in the case of the famine in the time of Emperor Claudius, foretold by the Christian prophet Agabus." - - - - "Are the miraculous gifts of the spirit necessary for the congregation to carry on its work and to maintain its cleanness, uprightness and unity? No, such gifts are not needed...." (p. 503) - - - - "Inspired prophesying today would be superfluous. The prophecies written in the Bible being complete as a guide to the congregation today, nothing needs to be added. Accordingly, since God's Word provides a perfect guide, there is no need to have the gift of discernment of prophecies in a miraculous sense, for there are no inspired prophets now authorized by God." (p. 504)

In other words, the Watchtower Society believes there ceased to be miraculous gifts bestowed when the "Church" reached "maturity" around 100 A.D. The "Church" was firmly established by this time and all the inspired scriptures had already been written and transmitted to the congregations. (1 Cor. 13:2, 8-11)

Others have taught this very same belief. Even W. E. Vine, "recognized as one of the world's foremost [NT] Greek scholars" and a favorite of many in orthodox Christendom, affirms the following quotation: "With the completion of the canon of Scripture prophecy apparently passed away, 1 Cor. 13:8, 9." - p. 893, Vine.

The Society has always taught this understanding. Even Russell taught it in his WT articles (e.g., WT Sept. 15, 1911). Since they have always believed that no Christian for the past 1800 years at least has been able to predict future events infallibly by direct inspiration, how could anyone honestly accuse them of being false prophets in that sense?

For more, see:

PROPHET (Insight-2 pp. 694-698; Watchtower Online Library)
The Greek pro·phe′tes literally means “a speaker out [Gr., pro, “before” or “in front of,” and phe·mi′, “say”]” and thus describes a proclaimer, one who makes known messages attributed to a divine source. (Compare Tit 1:12.) Though this includes the thought of a predictor of the future, the fundamental meaning of the word is NOT that of prediction. (Compare Jg 6:7-10.)

Have Jehovah's Witnesses ever claimed to be an INSPIRED prophet? (Search For Bible Truths)

Does the Watchtower Society really claim to be an inspired prophet? (Jehovah's Witnesses Questions and Answers)

The Problem with "False Prophecy" Polemics (Bible Translation and Study)

The Churches, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Question of Unfulfilled Prophetic Expectations (Jehovah's Witnesses United)

Are Jehovah's Witnesses False Prophets? (From God's Word)

Dates (1914; 1975) (Search For Bible Truths)

'False Prophet' Claim and Jerusalem 607 B.C.E. (Search For Bible Truths)

The Destruction of Jerusalem - 607 B.C.? (Search For Bible Truths)

Are Jehovah's Witnesses False Prophets? (From God's Word)

Why so many False Alarms? (Pastor Russell)

Has The Watchtower Society Ever Claimed to be Infallible? (Search For Bible Truths)

Was Nathan a False Prophet? (Jehovah's Witnesses Stand Firm)