2 Timothy 3:16,17 – The sufficiency of the Bible

2 Timothy 3:16,17 — All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.

You know it, I know it, you’ve used it a billion times. But have you ever thought about what it means when it comes to how you should read your Bible?

The Watchtower has long claimed that without their literature there is no way for people to understand the Bible. Even Russell wrote:

if he then lays [The Studies in the Scriptures] aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness.

So the question is, can we understand the Bible ourselves, or do we need someone to interpret it for us?

Think of the wording of 2 Timothy 3:16,17. “All Scripture is inspired of God”. All of it. This is in stark contrast to what the Watchtower says about the spiritual guidance of the Governing Body, that it’s “neither inspired nor infallible”. So which one is the wisest to trust?

After listing the benefits, verse 17 goes on to say why the scripture is inspired by God. “so that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” God inspired the Bible so that reading it, and it alone, we will be fully competent and completely equipped.

What does fully and completely mean?

They mean that there is nothing else to add. In other words, the Bible contains all the information we need.

But what if there’s something we don’t understand?

We sometimes need help to understand the Bible. Jesus knew this, but did he tell us to “Look it up in the Insight book” or “Search the library for an article from the Watchtower about it”?

No, this is what he said:

John 16:13 — However, when that one comes, the spirit of the truth, **he will guide you into all the truth**, for he will not speak of his own initiative, but what he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things to come.

Our Helper, the Holy Spirit is the one who will guide us into all the truth. Not the Watchtower. The Holy Spirit. And God has promised to give Holy Spirit to everyone who asks for it.

John further underscores this in his first letter:

1 John 2:27 — And as for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to be teaching you; but the anointing from him is teaching you about all things and is true and is no lie. Just as it has taught you, remain in union with him.

(If you think that you’re not anointed by Holy Spirit then take this simple test and find out. The answer might surprise you.)

Is there other help?

I’m glad you asked. There are many many excellent concordances, dictionaries and Bible commentaries with which you can do research and see what scholars say about different passages. But remember that you should never trust any human completely in their interpretations of the Bible, just as you should not trust the Watchtower’s interpretation without checking with other sources.

Especially considering that the Watchtower Society is notoriously uneducated. They basically have no scholars of their own but rely heavily on cherry picking Christendom’s scholarly research.

For example, the reason why the NWT translation committee wanted to stay anonymous is because of their lack of education. Only one of them had even a rudimentary understanding of Greek, the rest, none. They basically just copy-pasted other English works and added, removed and changed words to fit their doctrine.

The Bible tells us

1 John 4:1 — Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired statement, but test the inspired statements to see whether they originate with God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

The Bible commands you to not trust the Watchtower but to test their statements to see whether they are false prophets or not.

So read only the Bible, let the Holy Spirit guide you, look up words and context you need to understand. But if you want to see what other humans have said about it, compare many scholars and be sure to not put your complete trust in any particular interpretation, but let Holy Spirit guide you.

STUDY ARTICLE 1 “Go, Therefore, and Make Disciples”

Here are my comments on the 2020 Watchtower study 1.

The year text is appropriate, because the Watchtower society is leaking both money and members. They need to sell off a lot of real estate, and for every 100 people joining, 40 leaves. Making more disciples is very important to keep going.

The article introduces with the great commission by Jesus and why it applies to us. So far so good.

I find it interesting that the Watchtower dares to publish this scripture. It essentially promotes the doctrine of the Trinity. Notice that they are baptized in one name, but of three persons, the name (singular) of the Father and the son and the holly spirit.

The Watchtower teaches that the Father is Jehovah, the Son is the archangel Michael and the holy spirit is an impersonal force like in Star Wars. So they really should render this scripture as “In the name of Jehovah, the Archangel Michael and the light side of the force.”

In paragraph 6, it talks about Matthew 28:20, and I think it’s interesting that Jesus said “I am with you all the days”. However a large part of Watchtower teaching is based on the idea that from the second century CE until the 19th century CE, Jesus was in fact not with his disciples. If Jesus was with his disciples, how could they possibly fall into “apostasy” and come up with such ideas as the trinity, and why were there so many schisms? Clearly if Pastor Russel restored true religion in the end of the 19th century and believed that Jesus returned (from where?) in 1914, it means that Jesus was not with his disciples for some 1800 years. Who is right? Jesus, or Russel?

When you think about it, the only book we should use is the Bible itself. After all the Bible is self explanatory, and Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would teach us all things. A proper Bible teacher should be able to answer any question using only the Bible.

The real reason why the Watchtower wants us to use their literature hails back to what Pastor Russel once said, that if someone were to read the Bible and not read his books they would naturally gravitate toward classic Christianity. If your books drag people away from the natural and obvious conclusion of reading the Bible, you’ve got to ask yourself if they are actually the truth?

Have you ever wondered how a street preacher like Ray Comfort can get someone to understand the Good news and convert to Christianity in less than 10 minutes, while Jehovah’s witnesses need to study for years with someone to slowly mold their thinking. Who really has the help of the Holy Spirit?

The Watchtower is hurting for money. Therefore they make sure to point out how important it is for you to get your Bible students to give them money.

Because don’t forget, giving of your money to this New York based Printing and Real Estate Corporation is a privilege.

You may have noticed lately the Watchtower are bringing up donations and begging for money over and over again. Stephen Lett recently said that the money going out was more than the money coming in. This is interesting in the light of what Pastor Russel wrote in the second issue of the Zion’s Watchtower in 1879:

Zion’s Watch Tower’ has, we believe, JEHOVAH for its backer, and while this is the case it will never beg nor petition men for support. When He who says: ‘All the gold and silver of the mountains are mine,’ fails to provide necessary funds, we will understand it to be time to suspend the publication.

Pastor Russel, Zion’s Watchtower, August, 1879

So since funds are drying up and the Watchtower has started both begging and petitioning for money, it can only mean that Jehovah is no longer backing them, and it’s time to suspend the Watchtower.

Paragraph 15 teaches us how to prepare the students for being disappointed. Because they will be. He’s going to need it. We who are born in to the organization knows from experience that it’s “1% inspiration and 99% imperfection”. And lately we must ask if there’s even as much as 1% inspiration, since the Governing Body admits they’re “neither inspired nor infallible”. So just train the students to hold it in, press it down, put on a brave smile and don’t “bring reproach on Jehova’s name”.

If they aren’t accepting the teaching fast enough we must ditch them. They are a waste of time, because Armageddon is coming soonish and we apparently shouldn’t do our outmost to save their lives.

“What do you think will be your biggest challenge in becoming one of Jehovah’s witnesses?”

“If I regret it later, I will lose all of my friends and since I have already rejected my family to get in, I will have nothing left. The people who said they ‘love’ me will start to treat me like a leper or like I’m dead.”

These were just a few tidbits from this week’s Watchtower study. Did you have any favorite part? Share it in the comments.

”Bad associations spoil useful habits”

In a recent Watchtower study we had this gem:

While a bit creepy, it does point out that parents have responsibility for their children. Fair enough. But what I’d like to focus on is the scripture referenced to support this. A scripture you’ve probably heard a million times and always used to prevent you from broadening your perspectives:

1 Corinthians 15:33 — Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.

On its own it seems quite clear and is always used to warn you against associating with unapproved people. But since the Watchtower is notorious for using proof text and take things out of context we are going to look at the context today, because “if you take the text out of context, the result is a con.” And we do not want to be conned, do we?

So let’s start in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 to understand what Paul is writing about.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 — Now I remind you, brothers, of the good news that I declared to you, which you also accepted, and for which you have taken your stand. 2 Through it you are also being saved if you hold firmly to the good news I declared to you, unless you became believers for nothing. 3 For among the first things I handed on to you was what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; 4 and that he was buried, yes, that he was raised up on the third day according to the Scriptures;

The topic of discussion in 1 Corinthians 15 is the good news of salvation:

  • Jesus died for your sin
  • He was buried for 3 days
  • He was resurrected, defeating death
  • Through faith in his sacrifice and resurrection we are saved from death

This is a “first thing” or the basics of Christian faith. This is what saves you (and not your membership in a society belonging to a printing corporation.)

But Paul goes on to belabor the third point, the resurrection of Jesus and how important it is.

1 Corinthians 15:12-14 — Now if it is being preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how is it that some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If, indeed, there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised up. 14 But if Christ has not been raised up, our preaching is certainly in vain, and your faith is also in vain.

If Christ was not raised from the dead, our faith is in vain, completely pointless. And how was Jesus raised from the dead?

1 Corinthians 15:20,22 — But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death. […] 22 For just as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive.

So everyone will be resurrected in the same manner Jesus was resurrected. And how was that? What did Jesus say?

Luke 24:39,40 — See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones just as you see that I have.” 40 And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

John 20:27,28 — Next he said to Thomas: “Put your finger here, and see my hands, and take your hand and stick it into my side, and stop doubting but believe.” 28 In answer Thomas said to him: “My Lord and my God!”

John 2:19-21 — Jesus replied to them: “Tear down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said: “This temple was built in 46 years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was talking about the temple of his body.

Jesus said he was to be resurrected bodily. The same body he died in was resurrected fleshly, with one difference, which Paul discusses in 1 Corinthians 15:

1 Corinthians 15:35,42,44 — Nevertheless, someone will say: “How are the dead to be raised up? Yes, with what sort of body are they coming?” […] 42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised up in incorruption. […] 44 It is sown a physical body; it is raised up a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one.

The resurrected body is incorruptible, spiritual. So how does this harmonize? Jesus was raised in a physical body, but Paul talks about a spiritual…

  • Either Jesus was a spirit and he lied about not being a spirit and deceived the apostles by manifesting a fake body complete with wounds they could see and handle. Hence Jesus is a liar, deceiver and a fraud.
  • Or Paul didn’t mean “a spirit”, but a body that is elevated above the physical, given incorruptibility. And Paul didn’t say “spirit body” but “spiritual body” meaning that it has spiritual qualities a regular physical body doesn’t have.

The Watchtower society believes it’s the first one: That Jesus life to his disciples and defrauded them. The Jesus that the Watchtower promotes is a deceiver, fraud and liar. That’s qualities of Satan, not of God.

Jesus was resurrected in the same body, only it was immortalized, glorified and spiritual. It had the capability to travel vast distances instantly, appear and disappear anywhere, even in locked rooms, and of course it’s immortal.

If the Watchtower is correct then it also means that you will not have a physical resurrection, since everyone will be resurrected in the same manner as Jesus.

However if the idea of a spiritual glorified immortal physical body that can freely move through time and space, such as Jesus and Paul describes, is true then you are looking forward to an amazing future!

And this is what 1 Corinthians 15:33 is all about. It means “have nothing to do with people who say that Jesus wasn’t resurrected, or that his resurrection wasn’t a physical one.” They are the “bad associations” and “false witnesses”.

So the next time you hear 1 Corinthians 15:33 quoted, think about who teaches falsehood about Jesus’ resurrection, how it distorts the resurrection hope, how you should avoid such bad associations, and also how they are trying to con you by taking the text out of context.

Bad illustrations — Children are like arrows

In the watchtower study article 52 of 2019 we had this gem:

As anyone who’s ever been involved in archery knows, you want all arrows to be as identical as possible. Whether in a competition, hunting or at war, if you draw an arrow from your quiver and it’s thicker, thinner, heavier, lighter, bent, broken , too short, too long, or have any variation from what is optimal, it’s going to severely affect your performance. You want all arrows to be as similar as possible.

If anything this scripture means that children are useful, can be a protection, something that intimidates your enemy, something to show how manly you are. It does not mean that each child should be treated as a special individual though, the illustration simply does not lend itself to that interpretation. The direct opposite in fact.

The writing department of the Watchtower have yet again showed their incompetence. These are the people you trust for your life decisions?

Statistics: Memorial participation

The Society have long claimed that the number of anointed Christians taking part in the Memorial is relevant to how far away the end is.

Six Convincing Lines of Evidence…

…that we are living in “the last days”…

Sixth, the number of genuine anointed disciples of Christ is dwindling, though some will evidently still be on earth when the great tribulation begins. Most of the remnant are quite elderly, and over the years the number of those who are truly anointed has been getting smaller. Yet, referring to the great tribulation, Jesus stated: “Unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.” (Matthew 24:21, 22) Evidently, then, some of Christ’s “chosen ones” will still be on earth when the great tribulation begins.

w00 1/15 pp. 13-14

Or in the yearbook for 1981

Over the past seven years, from 1974 to 1980 inclusive, Jehovah’s Witnesses have made steady progress. Their growth is healthy. Only as to Memorial partakers has there been a gradual decline, which is in accord with Scriptural expectations. Thus there is no doubt that Jehovah has been guiding his people unfailingly through Christ Jesus their leader. Observe the following graphic picture of the worldwide progress of Jehovah’s work on earth in these last days.

1981 yearbook

So it’s clear the Society thinks that the number of memorial participants is corelated to how close we are to the end, the fewer, the closer.

So it must have been a nasty surprise for them when around 2007, the numbers started to increase rapidly. By 2018 they have almost 2.5 times as many participants!

Is Jehovah selecting an virtual avalance of new people? Or is the end getting father away? In any case the Society was wrong about yet another thing.

And it gets worse! Consider that the number of participants of today account for 14% of the 144.000. So it seems less and less likely that to everyone that the full number wouldn’t already be fulfilled. Especially considering that even before the Bible was completed, there was already over 500.000 Christians on earth – more than 3 times 144.000.

Could they possibly accept that just maybe their predictions about the 144.000 were wrong?

“Jehovah knows those who belong to him.” (2 Tim. 2:19) Those taking the count at the Memorial cannot judge who truly have the heavenly hope. The number of partakers includes those who mistakenly think that they are anointed. Some who at one point started to partake of the emblems later stopped. Others may have mental or emotional problems that lead them to believe that they will rule with Christ in heaven. Therefore, the number of partakers does not accurately indicate the number of anointed ones left on earth.

w16 jan pp. 22-27

No, in classical Watchtower spirit, nothing is ever their fault. If someone claims to be anointed it just means they are mistaken or insane!

The truth is, of course, that they’re wrong about this. The number of anointed is rising because more and more friend start to understand what it means to be anointed.

Find out if You too are one of the anointed with this simple test!

What does the Bible really teach – Who is Jesus Christ?

As I was browsing trhrough the What does the Bible really teach book, chapter 4, I came across paragraphs 11-13 and they contain some prime examples of how the Watchtower uses dishonest writing, misdirection and half truths to mislead readers. Let’s dig in.

Jesus is Jehovah’s most precious Son​—and for good reason. He is called “the firstborn of all creation,” for he was God’s first creation.* (Colossians 1:15) There is something else that makes this Son special. He is the “only-begotten Son.” (John 3:16) This means that Jesus is the only one directly created by God. Jesus is also the only one whom God used when He created all other things. (Colossians 1:16) Then, too, Jesus is called “the Word.” (John 1:14) This tells us that he spoke for God, no doubt delivering messages and instructions to the Father’s other sons, both spirit and human.

bh 4:11

Let’s start off with a light assumption and contradiction. The Bible says, and the paragraph quotes that Jesus is the “only-begotten son”. The word only-begotten, or monogenes, means unique or special. The same appelation refers to Isaac, who was neither first nor only, but he was special to Abraham. But that’s just a side-note, because what does the word “begotten” mean? To beget something means you are the parent by blood, it means the same a to give birth, only men (or spirits) don’t give birth, but they beget children. Adam begat Seth, Abraham begat Isaac. It means that the one begotten is the same kind of creature as the one doing the begetting. A dog begets a dog. A giraffe begets a giraffe. A human begets a human. A God begets a God. That Jesus is “begotten” means that Jesus is also a divine being. It means Jesus is the same kind of being as his Father. It means that Jesus has the same nature as his Father.

But then they play a word trick by in the very next sentence using a word that means something completely different but is similar enough to confuse people. Can you spot it?

Yes, “create”. Create is not the same thing as beget. Create is to make something that is different than yourself. You don’t “create” a child. You create a robot, or a meal, or a car, or a piece of art. But you don’t “beget” any of these. Create implies the creation is not the same nature as the creator. See how they cleverly uses a word that is totally different than what the Bible actually uses. Jesus was begotten, not created. BIG difference.

Now, on to the next paragraph.

Is the firstborn Son equal to God, as some believe? That is not what the Bible teaches. As we noted in the preceding paragraph, the Son was created. Obviously, then, he had a beginning, whereas Jehovah God has no beginning or end. (Psalm 90:2) The only-begotten Son never even considered trying to be equal to his Father. The Bible clearly teaches that the Father is greater than the Son. (Read John 14:28; 1 Corinthians 11:3) Jehovah alone is “God Almighty.” (Genesis 17:1) Therefore, he has no equal.

bh 4:12

In this paragraph they rely on people being ignorant about what the doctrine of the trinity actually says. What does it mean to be equal to God? Equal in nature, or equal in rank? If you don’t know what that means, that’s exactly what they’re hoping for.

They claim the son was created, which we already covered. The son wasn’t created, but begotten. The son is not part of creation, his origin is in eternity, before time began. So they follow it up with a false conclusion. A false premise leads to a false conclusion.

The only-begotten Son never even considered trying to be equal to his Father. The Bible clearly teaches that the Father is greater than the Son.

Just to rub it in how you missed the part about “begotten”, they again mention that Jesus is begotten, not created. They say he never considered trying to be equal to his father. Technically that’s true, but again, what do yo mean by equal? In nature or rank? And yes, the Bible teaches that the father is greater in rank than the son, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not equal in nature.

If it’s confusing, think of it this way: My father is Human. My father has seniority over me, his son. Does this mean that I am not human? Of course not!

My father is human, that’s his nature. I’m human, that’s my nature. But my father has seniority over me, that’s his rank.

Jesus father is God, that’s his nature. Jesus’ is God, that’s his nature. But Jesus’ father has seniority over him, that’s his rank.

The doctrine of the Trinity is not more complicated than that.

Jehovah alone is “God Almighty.”

Jehovah is God Almighty is technically true, but they again rely on your ignorance of the trinity doctrnie. Jehovah is the name of God, of the whole “Godhead” or Divine Nature consisting of the three persons. Jesus is one of the persons of the Godhead. Jesus is one of the persons of Jehovah. Jesus is the second ranking member of God. The name “Jesus” literally means “Jehovah saves” because that’s his job, he’s the member of Jehovah that saves humanity.

So they’re mixing and jumbling concept and hope that you won’t understand what any of them mean.

Jehovah and his firstborn Son enjoyed close association for billions of years​—long before the starry heavens and the earth were created. How they must have loved each other! (John 3:35;14:31) This dear Son was just like his Father. That is why the Bible refers to the Son as “the image of the invisible God.” (Colossians 1:15) Yes, even as a human son may closely resemble his father in various ways, this heavenly Son reflected his Father’s qualities and personality.

bh 4:13

It would be impossible for The Father and Son to not enjoy close association since they existed together for eternity (together with the Holy Spirit). That is why “God is love”. Think about it, the only way God could be love is if God consisted of at least two minds or persons. Because you can’t have love unless there’s a give and a receiver. If there was a point in time where the Father existed without the Son, then who did the Father love? There was no one to love, hence he could not love, hence he could not be love.

If you believe “God is love” then you must necessarily believe that God consists of at least two individual minds or persons.

the Bible refers to the Son as “the image of the invisible God.”

One of the jobs of the Son is to represent God before humanity. Hence he is necessarily the representation or image of God. He’s the manifestation of God in the physical universe.

I have a fish tank in my living room. The little fishes have no idea what goes on outside their little world. They may have some kind of idea that I exist, but can’t fully comprehend me. If I put my hand down my fish tank to move about a stone or something, then my hand is the visible representation of me inside their little universe. So the question is: Is my hand a part of me, or not?

Jesus is the part of God that interacts with the universe.

this heavenly Son reflected his Father’s qualities and personality

This tries to strip Jesus of his glory and divinity.

Colossians 2:9 — because it is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily.

Jesus has all the fullness of the divine nature, meaning he is fully God, just as his Father is, even though his rank of authority is one step lower.

John 1:14 — So the Word became flesh and resided among us, and we had a view of his glory, a glory such as belongs to an only-begotten son from a father; and he was full of divine favor and truth.

This scripture emphasizes that Jesus glory is the glory of God, because they have the same nature, he being begotten of the father.

Summary

This is an example of dishonest writing. The Society use words they hope you don’t know the definition of, and they mix and jumble concepts like “create” and “beget” and make unfounded assumptions to come to a conclusion that goes against clear Bible teaching.