Wednesday, December 21, 2005


The Greek word a·na´sta·sis literally means “raising up; standing up.” It is used frequently in the Christian Greek Scriptures with reference to the resurrection of the dead. The Hebrew Scriptures at Hosea 13:14, quoted by the apostle Paul (1Co 15:54, 55), speak of the abolition of death and the rendering powerless of Sheol (Heb., she´ohl´; Gr., hai´des). She´ohl´ is rendered in various versions as “grave” and “pit.” The dead are spoken of as going there. (Ge 37:35; 1Ki 2:6; Ec 9:10) Its usage in the Scriptures, along with the usage of its Greek equivalent hai´des in the Christian Greek Scriptures, shows that it refers, not to an individual grave, but to the common grave of mankind, gravedom. (Eze 32:21-32; Re 20:13; see HADES; SHEOL.) To render Sheol powerless would mean to loosen its hold on those in it, which would imply the emptying of gravedom. This, of course, would require a resurrection, a raising up from the lifeless condition of death or out of the grave for those there.

Through Jesus Christ. The foregoing shows that the teaching of resurrection appears in the Hebrew Scriptures. Nevertheless, it remained for Jesus Christ to “shed light upon life and incorruption through the good news.” (2Ti 1:10) Jesus said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Joh 14:6) Just how everlasting life would come, and more than that, incorruption for some, was brought to light through the good news about Jesus Christ. The apostle affirms that the resurrection is a sure hope, arguing: “Now if Christ is being preached that he has been raised up from the dead, how is it some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If, indeed, there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised up. But if Christ has not been raised up, our preaching is certainly in vain, and our faith is in vain. Moreover, we are also found false witnesses of God, because we have borne witness against God that he raised up the Christ, but whom he did not raise up if the dead are really not to be raised up. . . . Further, if Christ has not been raised up, your faith is useless; you are yet in your sins. . . . However, now Christ has been raised up from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death. For since death is through a man, resurrection of the dead is also through a man.”—1Co 15:12-21.

Christ himself when on earth performed resurrections. (Lu 7:11-15; 8:49-56; Joh 11:38-44) Only through Jesus Christ can resurrection, with everlasting life thereafter, be possible.—Joh 5:26.

A Sure Purpose of God. Jesus Christ pointed out to the Sadducees, a sect that did not believe in resurrection, that the writings of Moses in the Hebrew Scriptures, which they possessed and claimed to believe, prove there is a resurrection; Jesus reasoned that when Jehovah said He was “the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (who were actually dead), He counted those men as alive because of the resurrection that He, “the God, not of the dead, but of the living,” purposed to give them. God, because of his power, “makes the dead alive and calls the things that are not as though they were.” Paul includes this fact when speaking of Abraham’s faith.—Mt 22:23, 31-33; Ro 4:17.

God’s ability to resurrect. For the One with the ability and power to create man in His own image, with a perfect body and with the potential for full expression of the marvelous characteristics implanted in the human personality, it would pose no insurmountable problem to resurrect an individual. If scientific principles established by God can be used by scientists to preserve and later reconstruct a visible and audible scene by means of videotape, how easy it is for the great Universal Sovereign and Creator to resurrect a person by repatterning the same personality in a newly formed body. Concerning the revitalizing of Sarah to have a child in her old age, the angel said: “Is anything too extraordinary for Jehovah?”—Ge 18:14; Jer 32:17, 27.

How the Need for Resurrection Arose. In the beginning a resurrection was not necessary. It was not a part of God’s original purpose for mankind, because death was not the natural, purposed thing for humans. Rather, God indicated that he purposed the earth to be full of living humans, not a deteriorating, dying race. His work was perfect, hence without flaw, imperfection, or sickness. (De 32:4) Jehovah blessed the first human pair, telling them to multiply and fill the earth. (Ge 1:28) Such blessing certainly did not include sickness and death; God set no limited life span for man, but he told Adam that disobedience is what would cause death. This implies that man would otherwise live forever. Disobedience would incur God’s disfavor and remove his blessing, bringing a curse.—Ge 2:17; 3:17-19.

Consequently, death was introduced into the human race by the transgression of Adam. (Ro 5:12) Because of their father’s sinfulness and resultant imperfection, Adam’s offspring could not get a heritage of everlasting life from him; in fact, not even a hope of living forever. “Neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit,” said Jesus. (Mt 7:17, 18; Job 14:1, 2) The resurrection was brought in, or added, to overcome this disability for those of Adam’s children who would desire to be obedient to God.

Purpose of the Resurrection. The resurrection shows forth not only Jehovah’s unlimited power and wisdom but also his love and his mercy and vindicates him as the Preserver of those who serve him. (1Sa 2:6) Having resurrection power, he can go to the extent of showing that his servants will be faithful to him to the very death. He can answer Satan’s accusation that asserted that “skin in behalf of skin, and everything that a man has he will give in behalf of his soul.” (Job 2:4) Jehovah can let Satan go the full limit, even to killing some in a vain effort to support his false accusations. (Mt 24:9; Re 2:10; 6:11) The fact that Jehovah’s servants are willing to give up life itself in his service proves their service is, not for selfish considerations, but out of love. (Re 12:11) It also proves that they acknowledge Him as the Almighty, the Universal Sovereign, and the God of love, who is able to resurrect them. It proves they render exclusive devotion to Jehovah for his wonderful qualities and not for selfish material reasons. (Consider some of the exclamations of his servants, as recorded at Ro 11:33-36; Re 4:11; 7:12.) The resurrection also is a means by which Jehovah sees that his purpose toward the earth, as stated to Adam, is carried out.—Ge 1:28.

Essential to man’s happiness. The resurrection of the dead, an undeserved kindness on God’s part, is essential to mankind’s happiness and to the undoing of all the harm, suffering, and oppression that have come upon the human race. These things have befallen man as a result of his imperfection and sickness, the wars he has waged, the murders committed, and the inhumanities practiced by wicked people at the instance of Satan the Devil. We cannot be completely happy if we do not believe in a resurrection. The apostle Paul expressed the feeling in these words: “If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.”—1Co 15:19.

How Early Was Resurrection Hope Given? After Adam had sinned and had brought death upon himself and thereby introduced death for those who would be his posterity, God, in addressing the serpent, said: “And I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.”—Ge 3:15.

One originally causing death to be removed. Jesus said to the religious Jews who opposed him: “You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one was a manslayer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him.” (Joh 8:44) This is evidence that it was the Devil who spoke through the instrumentality of the serpent, and that this one was a manslayer from the beginning of his lying, devilish course. In the vision that Christ later gave to John, he revealed that Satan the Devil is also called “the original serpent.” (Re 12:9) Satan got his hold on mankind, gaining influence over Adam’s children, by inducing their father Adam to rebel against God. So in the first prophecy, of Genesis 3:15, Jehovah gave hope that this Serpent would be put out of the way. (Compare Ro 16:20.) Not only is Satan’s head to be crushed but also all of his works are to be broken up, destroyed, or undone. (1Jo 3:8; NW, KJ, AT) The fulfillment of this prophecy would of necessity require the undoing of the death introduced by Adam, including bringing back by a resurrection those of Adam’s offspring who go into Sheol (Hades) as a result of his sin, the effects of which they inherit.—1Co 15:26.

Hope of freedom entails resurrection. The apostle Paul describes the situation that God permitted to exist following man’s fall into sin and His end purpose in doing so: “For the creation was subjected to futility [being born in sin and with death facing all], not by its own will [the children of Adam were brought into the world facing this situation, though they themselves had no control over what Adam had done, and by no choice of their own] but through him [God, in his wisdom] that subjected it, on the basis of hope that the creation itself also will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Ro 8:20, 21; Ps 51:5) In order to experience the fulfillment of this hope of glorious freedom, those who have died would have to have a resurrection; they would have to be freed from death and the grave. Thus, by his promise of the “seed” that would crush the serpent’s head, God set a marvelous hope before mankind.—See SEED.

Abraham’s basis for faith. The evidence in the Bible record reveals that when Abraham attempted to offer up his son Isaac he had faith in God’s ability and purpose to raise the dead. And as stated at Hebrews 11:17-19, he did receive Isaac back from the dead “in an illustrative way.” (Ge 22:1-3, 10-13) Abraham had a basis for faith in a resurrection because of God’s promise of the “seed.” (Ge 3:15) Also, he and Sarah had already experienced something comparable to a resurrection in the revitalizing of their reproductive powers. (Ge 18:9-11; 21:1, 2, 12; Ro 4:19-21) Job expressed similar faith, saying, in his intense suffering: “O that in Sheol you would conceal me, . . . that you would set a time limit for me and remember me! If an able-bodied man dies can he live again? . . . You will call, and I myself shall answer you. For the work of your hands you will have a yearning.”—Job 14:13-15.

Resurrections before ransom was given. Resurrections were performed by or through the prophets Elijah and Elisha. (1Ki 17:17-24; 2Ki 4:32-37; 13:20, 21) However, these resurrected persons died again, as did those resurrected by Jesus when he was on earth as well as those resurrected by the apostles. This reveals that resurrection is not to everlasting life in every case.

Because of having been resurrected by his friend Jesus, Lazarus was likely alive Pentecost 33 C.E., when the holy spirit was poured out and the first ones of the heavenly calling (Heb 3:1) were anointed and spirit begotten. (Ac 2:1-4, 33, 38) Lazarus’ resurrection was similar to those performed by Elijah and Elisha. But it probably opened up to Lazarus the opportunity of receiving a resurrection like Christ’s, which he otherwise would not have had. What a remarkable act of love on Jesus’ part!—Joh 11:38-44.

“A better resurrection.” There were those faithful persons of old times of whom Paul speaks: “Women received their dead by resurrection; but other men were tortured because they would not accept release by some ransom, in order that they might attain a better resurrection.” (Heb 11:35) These men exhibited faith in the resurrection hope, knowing that life at that time was not the all-important thing. The resurrection they and others will have through Christ comes after his resurrection and appearance in heaven before his Father with the value of his ransom sacrifice. At that time he repurchased the life right of the human race, becoming the potential “Eternal Father.” (Heb 9:11, 12, 24; Isa 9:6) He is “a life-giving spirit.” (1Co 15:45) He has “the keys of death and of Hades [Sheol].” (Re 1:18) With the authority now to give everlasting life, at God’s due time he performs “a better resurrection,” since those experiencing it can live forever; none of such unavoidably need to die again. If obedient, they will continue living.

Heavenly Resurrection. Jesus Christ is called “the firstborn from the dead.” (Col 1:18) He was the first ever to be resurrected to everlasting life. And his resurrection was “in the spirit,” to life in heaven. (1Pe 3:18) Moreover, he was raised to a higher form of life and a higher position than that which he had held in the heavens prior to coming to earth. He was granted immortality and incorruption, which no creature in the flesh can have, and was made “higher than the heavens,” second only to Jehovah God in the universe. (Heb 7:26; 1Ti 6:14-16; Php 2:9-11; Ac 2:34; 1Co 15:27) His resurrection was performed by Jehovah God himself.—Ac 3:15; 5:30; Ro 4:24; 10:9.

However, for 40 days after his resurrection Jesus appeared to his disciples on different occasions in various fleshly bodies, just as angels had appeared to men of ancient times. Like those angels, he had the power to construct and to disintegrate those fleshly bodies at will, for the purpose of proving visibly that he had been resurrected. (Mt 28:8-10, 16-20; Lu 24:13-32, 36-43; Joh 20:14-29; Ge 18:1, 2; 19:1; Jos 5:13-15; Jg 6:11, 12; 13:3, 13) His many appearances, and particularly his manifesting himself to more than 500 persons at one time, provide strong testimony to the truth of his resurrection. (1Co 15:3-8) His resurrection, so well attested, furnishes “a guarantee to all men” regarding the certainty of a future day of reckoning or judgment.—Ac 17:31.

Resurrection of Christ’s “brothers.” Those who are “called and chosen and faithful,” Christ’s footstep followers, his “brothers,” who are spiritually begotten as “God’s children,” are promised a resurrection like his. (Re 17:14; Ro 6:5; 8:15, 16; Heb 2:11) The apostle Peter writes to fellow Christians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for according to his great mercy he gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance. It is reserved in the heavens for you.”—1Pe 1:3, 4.

Peter also describes the hope such ones possess as “precious and very grand promises, that through these you may become sharers in divine nature.” (2Pe 1:4) They must undergo a change of nature, giving up human nature to obtain “divine” nature, thus sharing with Christ in his glory. They must die a death like Christ’s—maintaining integrity and giving up human life forever—and then they receive immortal, incorruptible bodies like Christ’s by a resurrection. (Ro 6:3-5; 1Co 15:50-57; 2Co 5:1-3) The apostle Paul explains that it is not the body that is resurrected, but rather, he likens their experience to the planting and sprouting of a seed, in that “God gives it a body just as it has pleased him.” (1Co 15:35-40) It is the soul, the person, that is resurrected, with a body to suit the environment into which God resurrects him.

In the case of Jesus Christ, he gave up his human life as a ransom sacrifice for the benefit of mankind. The 40th Psalm is applied to him by the inspired writer of the book of Hebrews, who represents Jesus as saying, when he came “into the world” as God’s Messiah: “Sacrifice and offering you did not want, but you prepared a body for me.” (Heb 10:5) Jesus himself said: “For a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.” (Joh 6:51) It follows that Christ could not take his body back again in the resurrection, thereby taking back the sacrifice offered to God for mankind. Besides, Christ was no longer to abide on earth. His “home” is in the heavens with his Father, who is not flesh, but spirit. (Joh 14:3; 4:24) Jesus Christ therefore received a glorious immortal, incorruptible body, for “he is the reflection of [Jehovah’s] glory and the exact representation of his very being, and he sustains all things by the word of his power; and after he had made a purification for our sins he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in lofty places. So he has become better than the angels [who are themselves mighty spirit persons], to the extent that he has inherited a name more excellent than theirs.”—Heb 1:3, 4; 10:12, 13.

Christ’s faithful brothers, who join him in the heavens, give up human life. The apostle Paul shows that they have to have new bodies repatterned, or refashioned, for their new environment: “As for us, our citizenship exists in the heavens, from which place also we are eagerly waiting for a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will refashion our humiliated body to be conformed to his glorious body according to the operation of the power that he has.”—Php 3:20, 21.

Time of the heavenly resurrection. The heavenly resurrection of Christ’s joint heirs begins after Jesus Christ returns in heavenly glory, to give first attention to his spiritual brothers. Christ himself is called “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death.” Paul then says that each one will be resurrected in his own rank, “Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who belong to the Christ during his presence.” (1Co 15:20, 23) These, as “the house of God,” have been under judgment during their Christian life course, beginning with the first of their number at Pentecost. (1Pe 4:17) They are “certain [literally, some] firstfruits.” (Jas 1:18, Int; Re 14:4) Jesus Christ can be compared to the barley firstfruits offered by the Israelites on Nisan 16 (“Christ the firstfruits”), and his spiritual brothers as “firstfruits” (“certain firstfruits”) can be compared to the wheat firstfruits offered on Pentecost day, the 50th day from Nisan 16.—Le 23:4-12, 15-20.

These have been under judgment, so at Christ’s return it is time to give the reward to them, his faithful anointed ones, just as he promised his 11 faithful apostles on the evening before his death: “I am going my way to prepare a place for you. Also, . . . I am coming again and will receive you home to myself, that where I am you also may be.”—Joh 14:2, 3; Lu 19:12-23; compare 2Ti 4:1, 8; Re 11:17, 18.

“The Lamb’s marriage.” These as a body are called his (prospective) “bride” (Re 21:9); they are promised to him in marriage, and they must be resurrected to the heavens in order to take part in “the marriage of the Lamb.” (2Co 11:2; Re 19:7, 8) The apostle Paul looked forward to receiving his heavenly resurrection. (2Ti 4:8) When Christ’s “presence” takes place, there are some of his spiritual brothers yet alive on earth, “invited to the evening meal of the Lamb’s marriage,” but those of their number who have died are given first attention by a resurrection. (Re 19:9) This is explained at 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 16: “For this is what we tell you by Jehovah’s word, that we the living who survive to the presence of the Lord shall in no way precede those who have fallen asleep in death; because the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first.”

Paul then adds: “Afterward we the living who are surviving will, together with them, be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1Th 4:17) Thus, at the time that they finish their earthly course faithfully in death, the remaining ones who have the invitation to “the evening meal of the Lamb’s marriage” are immediately resurrected to join their fellow members of the bride class in heaven. They do not “fall asleep in death” in the sense of waiting in a long sleep, as did the apostles but, on dying, are “changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, during the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised up incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1Co 15:51, 52) Evidently, though, “the marriage of the Lamb” does not take place until after judgment has been executed upon “Babylon the Great.” (Re 18) After describing the destruction of this “great harlot,” Revelation 19:7 says: “Let us rejoice and be overjoyed, and let us give him the glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has arrived and his wife has prepared herself.” When all the 144,000 have been finally approved and “sealed” as faithful ones and have been resurrected to the heavens, the marriage can proceed.

First resurrection. Revelation 20:5, 6 refers to the resurrection of those who will reign with Christ as “the first resurrection.” The apostle Paul speaks of this first resurrection also as “the earlier resurrection from the dead [literally, the out-resurrection the out of dead (ones)].” (Php 3:11, NW, Ro, Int) On the expression Paul uses here, Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament (1931, Vol. IV, p. 454) says: “Apparently Paul is thinking here only of the resurrection of believers out from the dead and so double ex [out] (ten exanastasin ten ek nekron). Paul is not denying a general resurrection by this language, but emphasizing that of believers.” Charles Ellicott’s Commentaries (1865, Vol. II, p. 87) remarks on Philippians 3:11: “‘The resurrection from the dead;’ i.e., as the context suggests, the first resurrection (Rev. xx. 5), when, at the Lord’s coming the dead in Him shall rise first (1 Thessalon. iv. 16), and the quick be caught up to meet Him in the clouds (1 Thess. iv. 17); compare Luke xx. 35. The first resurrection will include only true believers, and will apparently precede the second, that of non-believers and disbelievers, in point of time . . . Any reference here to a merely ethical resurrection (Cocceius) is wholly out of the question.” One of the basic meanings of the word e·xa·na´sta·sis is getting up from bed in the morning; thus it can well represent a resurrection occurring early, otherwise called “the first resurrection.” Rotherham’s translation of Philippians 3:11 reads: “If by any means I may advance to the earlier resurrection which is from among the dead.”

Earthly Resurrection. While Jesus was hanging on a stake, one of the evildoers alongside him, observing that Jesus was not deserving of punishment, requested: “Jesus, remember me when you get into your kingdom.” Jesus replied: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.” (Lu 23:42, 43) In effect, Jesus said: ‘On this dark day, when my claim to a kingdom is to outward appearances highly unlikely, you express faith. Indeed, when I do get into my kingdom, I will remember you.’ (See PARADISE.) This would require a resurrection for the evildoer. This man was not a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. He had been engaged in wrongdoing, lawbreaking meriting the death penalty. (Lu 23:40, 41) Therefore, he could not hope to be one of those receiving the first resurrection. Additionally, he died 40 days before Jesus ascended into heaven and hence before Pentecost, which was 10 days after that ascension, when God through Jesus anointed the first members of those who will receive the heavenly resurrection.—Ac 1:3; 2:1-4, 33.

The evildoer, Jesus said, would be in Paradise. The word means “a park or pleasure ground.” The Septuagint rendered the Hebrew word for “garden” (gan), as at Genesis 2:8, by the Greek word pa·ra´dei·sos. The paradise in which the evildoer will be would not be “the paradise of God” promised to “him that conquers,” at Revelation 2:7, for the evildoer was not a conqueror of the world with Jesus Christ. (Joh 16:33) The evildoer would therefore not be in the heavenly Kingdom as a member of it (Lu 22:28-30) but would be a subject of the Kingdom when those of “the first resurrection” would, as kings of God and Christ, sit on thrones, ruling with Christ for a thousand years.—Re 20:4, 6.

“The righteous and the unrighteous.” The apostle Paul said to a group of Jews who also entertained the hope of a resurrection that “there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.”—Ac 24:15.

The Bible makes it plain who are “the righteous.” First of all, those who are to receive a heavenly resurrection are declared righteous.—Ro 8:28-30.

Then the Bible calls faithful men of old such as Abraham righteous. (Ge 15:6; Jas 2:21) Many of these men are listed at Hebrews chapter 11, and of them the writer says: “And yet all these, although they had witness borne to them through their faith, did not get the fulfillment of the promise, as God foresaw something better for us [spirit-begotten, anointed Christians like Paul], in order that they might not be made perfect apart from us.” (Heb 11:39, 40) So, the perfecting of them will take place after that of the ones having part in “the first resurrection.”

Then there is the “great crowd” described in Revelation chapter 7, who are not members of the 144,000 “sealed” ones, and who consequently do not have “the token” of the spirit as being spirit-begotten. (Eph 1:13, 14; 2Co 5:5) They are described as coming “out of the great tribulation” as survivors of it; this would seem to locate the gathering of this group in the last days shortly before that tribulation. These are righteous through faith, being clothed in white robes washed in the blood of the Lamb. (Re 7:1, 9-17) As a class, they will not need to be resurrected, but faithful ones of that group who die before the great tribulation will be resurrected in God’s due time.

Also, there are many “unrighteous” persons buried in Sheol (Hades), mankind’s common grave, or in “the sea,” watery graves. The judgment of these along with “the righteous” resurrected on earth is described in Revelation 20:12, 13: “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds. And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Hades gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds.”

Time of the earthly resurrection. We note that this judgment is placed in the Bible in the account of events occurring during Christ’s Thousand Year Reign with his associate kings and priests. These, the apostle Paul said, “will judge the world.” (1Co 6:2) “The great and the small,” persons from all walks of life, will be there, to be judged impartially. They are “judged out of those things written in the scrolls” that will be opened then. This could not mean the record of their past lives nor a set of rules that judges them on the basis of their past lives. For since “the wages sin pays is death,” these by their death have received the wages of their sin in the past. (Ro 6:7, 23) Now they are resurrected that they might demonstrate their attitude toward God and whether they wish to take hold of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ that was given for all. (Mt 20:28; Joh 3:16) Though their past sins are not accounted to them, they need the ransom to lift them up to perfection. They must make their minds over from their former way of life and thought in harmony with God’s will and regulations for the earth and its population. Accordingly, “the scrolls” evidently set forth the will and law of God for them during that Judgment Day, their faith and their obedience to these things being the basis for judgment and for writing their names indelibly, at last, into “the scroll of life.”

Resurrection to Life and to Judgment. Jesus gave the comforting assurance to mankind: “The hour is coming, and it is now, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who have given heed will live. . . . Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.”—Joh 5:25-29.

A judgment of condemnation. In Jesus’ words here, the word “judgment” translates the Greek word kri´sis. According to Parkhurst, the meanings of this word in the Christian Greek Scriptures are as follows: “I. Judgment. . . . II. Judgment, justice. Mat. xxiii. 23. Comp. xii. 20. . . . III. Judgment of condemnation, condemnation, damnation. Mark iii. 29. John v. 24, 29. . . . IV. The cause or ground of condemnation or punishment. John iii. 19. V. A particular court of justice among the Jews, . . . Mat. v. 21, 22.”—A Greek and English Lexicon to the New Testament, London, 1845, p. 342.

If Jesus, in speaking of judgment, meant a trial the result of which might be life, then there would be no contrast between this and the “resurrection of life.” Therefore, the context indicates that Jesus meant by “judgment” a condemnatory judgment.

“The dead” that heard Jesus speak on earth. In considering Jesus’ words, we note that when Jesus spoke, some of “the dead” were hearing his voice. Peter used similar language when he said: “In fact, for this purpose the good news was declared also to the dead, that they might be judged as to the flesh from the standpoint of men but might live as to the spirit from the standpoint of God.” (1Pe 4:6) This is so because those hearing Christ were ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ before hearing but would begin to ‘live’ spiritually because of faith in the good news.—Eph 2:1; compare Mt 8:22; 1Ti 5:6.

John 5:29 refers to end of judgment period. But a very important thing to notice, something that helps to determine the time feature of Jesus’ words concerning the ‘resurrection of life and the resurrection of judgment,’ is what he said earlier in the same context, in speaking of those living then who were spiritually dead (as explained under the subheading ‘Passing Over From Death to Life’): “The hour is coming, and it is now, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who have given heed [literally, word for word, “the (ones) having heard”] will live.” (Joh 5:25, Int) This indicates that he was not speaking merely of someone audibly hearing his voice but, rather, of the ones “having heard,” namely, those who, after hearing, accept as true what they hear. The terms “hear” and “listen” are used very frequently in the Bible with the meaning of “give heed” or “obey.” (See OBEDIENCE.) Those who prove to be obedient will live. (Compare the use of the same Greek term [a·kou´o], “hear or listen,” at Joh 6:60; 8:43, 47; 10:3, 27.) They are judged, not on what they did before hearing his voice, but on what they do after hearing it.

Jesus was therefore evidently taking a similar position in time in speaking of “those who did good things” and “those who practiced vile things,” namely, a position at the end of the period of judgment, as looking back in retrospect or in review of the actions of these resurrected persons after they had opportunity to obey or disobey the “things written in the scrolls.” Only at the end of the judgment period would it be demonstrated who had done good or bad. The outcome to “those who did good things” (according to “those things written in the scrolls”) would be the reward of life; to “those who practiced vile things,” a judgment of condemnation. The resurrection would have turned out to be either to life or to condemnation.

The practice of stating things as viewed from the standpoint of the outcome, or stating them as already accomplished, considering them in retrospect, is common in the Bible. For God is “the One telling from the beginning the finale, and from long ago the things that have not been done.” (Isa 46:10) Jude adopts this same viewpoint when he speaks of corrupt men who slipped into the congregation, saying of them: “Too bad for them, because they have gone in the path of Cain, and have rushed into the erroneous course of Balaam for reward, and have perished [literally, they destroyed themselves] in the rebellious talk of Korah!” (Jude 11) Some of the prophecies use similar language.—Compare Isa 40:1, 2; 46:1; Jer 48:1-4.

Consequently the viewpoint taken at John 5:29 is not identical with that at Acts 24:15 in which Paul speaks of the resurrection of “the righteous and the unrighteous.” Paul is plainly referring to those who have had a righteous or unrighteous standing before God during this life, and who will be resurrected. They are “those in the memorial tombs.” (Joh 5:28; see MEMORIAL TOMB.) At John 5:29, Jesus views such persons after their coming out of the memorial tombs and after they, by their course of action during the reign of Jesus Christ and his associate kings and priests, have proved themselves either obedient, with eternal “life” as their reward, or disobedient, and so deserving “judgment [condemnation]” from God.

Soul Recovered From Sheol. King David of Israel wrote: “I foresaw the Lord always before my face; for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved . . . moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [Sheol], neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Ps 15:8-10, LXX, Bagster [16:8-11, NW]) On the day of Pentecost, 33 C.E., the apostle Peter applied this psalm to Jesus Christ, in declaring to the Jews the truth of Christ’s resurrection. (Ac 2:25-31) The Scriptures, both the Hebrew and the Greek, therefore show that it was the “soul” of Jesus Christ that was resurrected. Jesus Christ was ‘put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.’ (1Pe 3:18) “Flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom,” said the apostle Paul. (1Co 15:50) This would also exclude flesh and bones. Flesh and bones do not have life unless they have blood, for the blood contains the “soul” or is that which is necessary for the life of the creature of flesh.—Ge 9:4.

Throughout the Scriptures it is evident that there is no “immaterial soul” separate and distinct from the body. The soul dies when the body dies. Even of Jesus Christ it is written that “he poured out his soul to the very death.” His soul was in Sheol. He had no existence as a soul or person during that time. (Isa 53:12; Ac 2:27; compare Eze 18:4; see SOUL.) Consequently, in the resurrection there is no joining again of soul and body. However, whether spiritual or earthly, the individual must have a body or organism, for all persons, heavenly or earthly, possess bodies. To be again a person, one who has died would have to have a body, either a physical or a spiritual body. The Bible says: “If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one.”—1Co 15:44.

But is the old body reassembled in the resurrection? or is it a precise replica of the former body, made exactly as it was when the person died? The Scriptures answer in the negative when they deal with the resurrection of Christ’s anointed brothers to life in the heavens: “Nevertheless, someone will say: ‘How are the dead to be raised up? Yes, with what sort of body are they coming?’ You unreasonable person! What you sow is not made alive unless first it dies; and as for what you sow, you sow, not the body that will develop, but a bare grain, it may be, of wheat or any one of the rest; but God gives it a body just as it has pleased him, and to each of the seeds its own body.”—1Co 15:35-38.

The heavenly ones receive a spiritual body, for it pleases God for them to have bodies suitable for their heavenly environment. But those whom Jehovah pleases to raise to an earthly resurrection, what body does he give them? It could not be the same body, of exactly the same atoms. If a man dies and is buried, by process of decay his body is reconverted into organic chemicals that are absorbed by vegetation. Persons may eat that vegetation. The elements, the atoms of that original person, now are in many persons. In the resurrection it is obvious that the same atoms cannot be in the original person and in all the others at the same time.

Neither is the resurrected body necessarily one constructed to be the exact duplicate of the body at the moment of death. If a person has had his body mutilated before death, will he return in the same way? That would be unreasonable, for he might not be in a condition even to hear and to do “those things written in the scrolls.” (Re 20:12) Say a person died from having the blood drained from his body. Would he return without blood? No, for he could not live in an earthly body without blood. (Le 17:11, 14) Rather, he would be given a body as it pleases God. Since God’s will and pleasure are that the resurrected person must obey the “things written in the scrolls,” it would have to be a sound body, possessing all its faculties. (Even though Lazarus’ body was already partially decomposed, Jesus resurrected Lazarus in a whole, sound body. [Joh 11:39]) In this way the individual could properly and justly be held responsible for his deeds during the judgment period. Yet the individual would not be perfect when brought back, for he must exercise faith in Christ’s ransom and must have the priestly ministrations of Christ and his “royal priesthood.”—1Pe 2:9; Re 5:10; 20:6.

‘Passing Over From Death to Life.’ Jesus spoke of those who ‘have everlasting life’ because they hear his words with faith and obedience and then believe on the Father who sent him. He said about each one of such: “He does not come into judgment but has passed over from death to life. Most truly I say to you, The hour is coming, and it is now, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who have given heed will live.”—Joh 5:24, 25.

Those who have ‘passed over from death to life now’ would not be those who had literally died and were in actual graves. At the time when Jesus spoke, all mankind were under the condemnation of death before God the Judge of all. So the ones Jesus referred to were evidently persons on earth who had been dead in a spiritual sense. Jesus must have referred to such spiritually dead ones when he said to the Jewish son who wanted to go home first to bury his father: “Keep following me, and let the dead bury their dead.”—Mt 8:21, 22.

Those who become Christians with true belief were once among the spiritually dead people of the world. The apostle Paul reminded the congregation of this fact, saying: “It is you God made alive though you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you at one time walked according to the system of things of this world . . . But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, made us alive together with the Christ, even when we were dead in trespasses—by undeserved kindness you have been saved—and he raised us up together and seated us together in the heavenly places in union with Christ Jesus.”—Eph 2:1, 2, 4-6.

Thus, because of their no longer walking in trespasses and sins against God, and because of their faith in Christ, Jehovah lifted his condemnation from them. He raised them up out of spiritual death and gave them hope of everlasting life. (1Pe 4:3-6) The apostle John describes this transfer from deadness in trespasses and sins to spiritual life in these words: “Do not marvel, brothers, that the world hates you. We know we have passed over from death to life, because we love the brothers.”—1Jo 3:13, 14.

An Undeserved Kindness of God. The provision of a resurrection for humankind is indeed an undeserved kindness of Jehovah God, for he was not obligated to provide a resurrection. Love for the world of mankind moved him to give his only-begotten Son so that millions, yes, even thousands of millions who have died without a real knowledge of God might have opportunity to know and love him, and so that those who love and serve him can have this hope and encouragement to faithful endurance, even as far as death. (Joh 3:16) The apostle Paul comforts fellow Christians with the resurrection hope, writing to the congregation at Thessalonica about those of the congregation who had died and who had hope of a heavenly resurrection: “Moreover, brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant concerning those who are sleeping in death; that you may not sorrow just as the rest also do who have no hope. For if our faith is that Jesus died and rose again, so, too, those who have fallen asleep in death through Jesus God will bring with him.”—1Th 4:13, 14.

Likewise, for those faithful to God who died with hope of life on earth under God’s Messianic Kingdom, and also for others who have not come to know God, Christians should not sorrow as the rest do who have no hope. When Sheol (Hades) is opened, those in there will come out. The Bible mentions many who have gone there, including the people of ancient Egypt, Assyria, Elam, Meshech, Tubal, Edom, and Sidon. (Eze 32:18-31) Jesus himself said that the people of Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom would be on hand for Judgment Day, some of the pagans being more likely to repent than many to whom Jesus himself preached in Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum.—Mt 11:20-24; Lu 10:13-15.

Ransom applied to all for whom it was given. The greatness and expansiveness of God’s love and undeserved kindness in giving his Son that ‘whoever should believe in him might have life’ would not limit the application of the ransom to only those whom God chooses for the heavenly calling. (Joh 3:16) In fact, the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ would not be completely applied if it left off with those who become members of the Kingdom of heaven. It would fall short of accomplishing the full purpose for which God provided it, because God’s purpose was that the Kingdom have earthly subjects. Jesus Christ is High Priest not only over the underpriests with him but also for the world of mankind who will live when his associates also rule as kings and priests with him. (Re 20:4, 6) He has “been tested in all respects like ourselves [his spiritual brothers], but without sin.” Therefore he can sympathize with the weaknesses of persons who are conscientiously trying to serve God; and his associate kings and priests have been tested in the same way. (Heb 4:15, 16; 1Pe 4:12, 13) On behalf of whom could they be priests if not on behalf of mankind, including those resurrected, during the Thousand Year Reign and judgment period?

Servants of God have anxiously looked forward to the day when the resurrection will complete its work. In the outworking of his purposes, God has set exactly the proper time for it, in which his wisdom and long-suffering will be fully vindicated. (Ec 3:1-8) He and his Son, being both able and willing to perform the resurrection, will complete it in that set time.

Jehovah joyfully anticipates the resurrection. Jehovah and his Son must anticipate the full carrying out of that work with great joy. Jesus showed this willingness and desire when a leper entreated him: “‘If you just want to, you can make me clean.’ At that [Jesus] was moved with pity, and he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him: ‘I want to. Be made clean.’ And immediately the leprosy vanished from him, and he became clean.” This touching incident demonstrating Christ’s loving-kindness for mankind was recorded by three of the Gospel writers. (Mr 1:40-42; Mt 8:2, 3; Lu 5:12, 13) And of Jehovah’s love and willingness to help mankind, we call again to mind the words of faithful Job: “If an able-bodied man dies can he live again? . . . You will call, and I myself shall answer you. For the work of your hands you will have a yearning.”—Job 14:14, 15.

Some Not Resurrected. While it is true that Christ’s ransom sacrifice was given for mankind in general, Jesus indicated that its actual application nevertheless would be limited when he said: “Just as the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Mt 20:28) Jehovah God has the right to refuse to accept a ransom for anyone he deems unworthy. Christ’s ransom covers the sins an individual has because of being a child of sinful Adam, but a person can add to that by his own deliberate, willful course of sin, and he can thus die for such sin that is beyond coverage by the ransom.

Sin against the holy spirit. Jesus Christ said that one who sinned against the holy spirit would not be forgiven in the present system of things nor in that to come. (Mt 12:31, 32) A person whom God judged as having sinned against the holy spirit in the present system of things would therefore not profit by a resurrection, since his sins would never be forgiven, making resurrection useless for him. Jesus uttered judgment against Judas Iscariot in calling him “the son of destruction.” The ransom would not apply to him, and his destruction already being a judicially established judgment, he would not receive a resurrection.—Joh 17:12.

To his opposers, the Jewish religious leaders, Jesus said: “How are you to flee from the judgment of Gehenna [a symbol of everlasting destruction]?” (Mt 23:33; see GEHENNA.) His words indicate that these persons, if they did not take action to turn to God before their death, would have a final adverse judgment entered against them. If so, a resurrection would accomplish nothing for them. This would also appear to be true of “the man of lawlessness.”—2Th 2:3, 8; see MAN OF LAWLESSNESS.

Paul speaks of those who have known the truth, have been partakers of holy spirit, and then have fallen away, as falling into a condition in which it is impossible “to revive them again to repentance, because they impale the Son of God afresh for themselves and expose him to public shame.” The ransom could no longer help them; hence they would receive no resurrection. The apostle goes on to liken such ones to a field that produces only thorns and thistles and is therefore rejected and ends up being burned. This illustrates the future before them: complete annihilation.—Heb 6:4-8.

Again, Paul says of those who “practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, [that] there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left, but there is a certain fearful expectation of judgment and there is a fiery jealousy that is going to consume those in opposition.” He then illustrates: “Any man that has disregarded the law of Moses dies without compassion, upon the testimony of two or three. Of how much more severe a punishment, do you think, will the man be counted worthy who has trampled upon the Son of God and who has esteemed as of ordinary value the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and who has outraged the spirit of undeserved kindness with contempt? . . . It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” The judgment is more severe in that such ones are not merely killed and buried in Sheol, as were violators of the Law of Moses. These go into Gehenna, from which there is no resurrection.—Heb 10:26-31.

Peter writes to his brothers, pointing out that they, as “the house of God,” are under judgment, and he then quotes from Proverbs 11:31 (LXX) warning them of the danger of disobedience. He here implies that their present judgment could end with a judgment of everlasting destruction for them, just as Paul had written.—1Pe 4:17, 18.

The apostle Paul also tells of some who will “undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction from before the Lord and from the glory of his strength, at the time he comes to be glorified in connection with his holy ones.” (2Th 1:9, 10) These would therefore not survive into the Thousand Year Reign of Christ, and since their destruction is “everlasting,” they would receive no resurrection.

Resurrection During 1,000 Years. A very liberal estimate of the number of persons that have ever lived on earth is 20 billion (20,000,000,000). Many students of the subject calculate that not nearly so many have lived. Not all of these, as it has been shown in the foregoing discussion, will receive a resurrection, but even assuming that they did, there would be no problem as to living space and food for them. The land surface of the earth at present is about 148,000,000 sq km (57,000,000 sq mi), or about 14,800,000,000 ha (36,500,000,000 acres). Even allowing half of that to be set aside for other uses, there would be more than a third of a hectare (almost 1 acre) for each person. As to earth’s potential food production, a third of a hectare will actually provide much more than enough food for one person, especially when, as God has demonstrated in the case of the nation of Israel, there is abundance of food as a result of God’s blessing.—1Ki 4:20; Eze 34:27.

On the question of the earth’s food-producing power, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization maintains that, with only moderate improvements in agricultural methods, in even the developing areas the earth could easily feed up to nine times the population that scientists have estimated for the year 2000.—Land, Food and People, Rome, 1984, pp. 16, 17.

How, though, could the thousands of millions be adequately cared for, in view of the fact that most of them did not in the past know God and must learn to conform to his laws for them? First, the Bible states that the kingdom of the world becomes “the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he [rules] as king forever and ever.” (Re 11:15) And the Bible principle is that “when there are judgments from you [Jehovah] for the earth, righteousness is what the inhabitants of the productive land will certainly learn.” (Isa 26:9) In his due time, when it is necessary to make it known to his servants, God will reveal how he purposes to take care of this work.—Am 3:7.

How would it be possible in 1,000 years to resurrect and educate the billions now in the grave?

Nevertheless, an illustration reveals what a simple, practical thing Jehovah has in mind for mankind. Not to prophesy, but merely for the purpose of illustration, let us assume that those who compose the “great crowd” of righteous persons who “come out of the great tribulation” on this system of things alive (Re 7:9, 14) number 3,000,000 (about 1/1666 of earth’s present population). Then if, after allowing, say, 100 years spent in their training and in ‘subduing’ a portion of the earth (Ge 1:28), God purposes to bring back three percent of this number, this would mean that each newly arrived person would be looked after by 33 trained ones. Since a yearly increase of three percent, compounded, doubles the number about every 24 years, the entire 20 billion (20,000,000,000) could be resurrected before 300 years of Christ’s Thousand Year Reign had elapsed, giving ample time for training and judging the resurrected ones without disrupting harmony and order on earth. Thus God, with his almighty power and wisdom, is able to bring his purpose to a glorious conclusion fully within the framework of the laws and arrangements he has made for mankind from the beginning, with the added undeserved kindness of the resurrection.—Ro 11:33-36.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Burglars just broke

Burglars just broke in
An elderly woman had just returned to her home from an evening of religious service when she was startled by an intruder. As she caught the man in the act of robbing her home of its valuables, she yelled, "Stop! Acts 2:38!" [Turn from your sin]The burglar stopped dead in his tracks. Then the woman calmly called the police and explained what she had done. As the officer cuffed the man to take him in, he asked the burglar,"Why did you just stand there? All the old lady did was yell a scripture at you." "Scripture?" replied the burglar, "She said she had an axe and two 38s!"

God granting miracle

God granting miracles
A religious man is on top of a roof during a great flood. A man comes by in a boat and says "get in, get in!" The religous man replies, " no I have faith in God, he will grant me a miracle."Later the water is up to his waist and another boat comes by and the guy tells him to get in again. He responds that he has faith in god and god will give him a miracle. With the water at about chest high, another boat comes to rescue him, but he turns down the offer again cause "God will grant him a miracle."With the water at chin high, a helicopter throws down a ladder and they tell him to get in, mumbling with the water in his mouth, he again turns down the request for help for the faith of God. He arrives at the gates of heaven with broken faith and says to Peter, I thought God would grand me a miracle and I have been let down." St. Peter chuckles and responds, "I don't know what you're complaining about, we sent you three boats and a helicopter."

Letters to the Pasto

Letters to the Pastor
The following are actual questions written to pastors from children across the world.Dear Pastor, I know God loves everybody but He never met my sister. Yours sincerely, Arnold. Age 8, Nashville. Dear Pastor, Please say in your sermon that Peter Peterson has been a good boy all week. I am Peter Peterson. Sincerely, Pete. Age 9, Phoenix Dear Pastor, My father should be a minister. Every day he gives us a sermon about something. Robert Anderson, age 11 Dear Pastor, I'm sorry I can't leave more money in the plate, but my father didn't give me a raise in my allowance. Could you have a sermon about a raise in my allowance? Love, Patty. Age 10, New Haven Dear Pastor, My mother is very religious. She goes to play bingo at church every week even if she has a cold. Yours truly, Annette. Age 9, Albany Dear Pastor, I would like to go to heaven someday because I know my brother won't be there. Stephen. Age 8, Chicago Dear Pastor, I think a lot more people would come to your church if you moved it to Disneyland. Loreen. Age 9. Tacoma Dear Pastor, I liked your sermon where you said that good health is more important than money but I still want a raise in my allowance. Sincerely, Eleanor. Age 12, Sarasota Dear Pastor, Please pray for all the airline pilots. I am flying to California tomorrow. Laurie. Age 10, New York City Dear Pastor, I hope to go to heaven some day but later than sooner. Love, Ellen, age 9. Athens Dear Pastor, Please say a prayer for our Little League team. We need God's help or a new pitcher. Thank you. Alexander. Age 10, Raleigh Dear Pastor, My father says I should learn the Ten Commandments. But I don't think I want to because we have enough rules already in my house. Joshua. Age 10, South Pasadena Dear Pastor, Who does God pray to? Is there a God for God? Sincerely, Christopher. Age 9, Titusville Dear Pastor, Are there any devils on earth? I think there may be one in my class. Carla. Age 10, Salina Dear Pastor, I liked your sermon on Sunday. Especially when it was finished. Ralph, Age 11, Akron Dear Pastor, How does God know the good people from the bad people? Do you tell Him or does He read about it in the newspapers? Sincerely, Marie. Age 9, Lewiston

Signs seen near church

Signs seen near church
The following are actual signs found on church property."No God-No Peace. Know God-Know Peace." "Free Trip to heaven. Details Inside!" "Try our Sundays. They are better than Baskin-Robbins." "Searching for a new look? Have your faith lifted here!" An ad for St. Joseph's Episcopal Church has a picture of two hands holding stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments are inscribed and a headline that reads, "For fast, fast, fast relief, take two tablets." When the restaurant next to the Lutheran Church put out a big sign with red letters that said, "Open Sundays," the church reciprocated with its own message: "We are open on Sundays, too." "Have trouble sleeping? We have sermons-come hear one!" A singing group called "The Resurrection" was scheduled to sing at a church. When a big snowstorm postponed the performance, the pastor fixed the outside sign to read, "The Resurrection is postponed." "People are like tea bags-you have to put them in hot water before you know how strong they are." "God so loved the world that He did not send a committee." "Come in and pray today. Beat the Christmas rush!" "When down in the mouth, remember Jonah. He came out alright." "Sign broken. Message inside this Sunday." "Fight truth decay-study the Bible daily." "How will you spend eternity-Smoking or Non-smoking?" "Dusty Bibles lead to Dirty Lives" "Come work for the Lord. The work is hard, the hours are long and the pay is low. But the retirement benefits are out of this world." "Our arms are the only ones God has to hug His children." "It is unlikely there'll be a reduction in the wages of sin." "Do not wait for the hearse to take you to church." "If you're headed in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns." "If you don't like the way you were born, try being born again." "Looking at the way some people live, they ought to obtain eternal fire insurance soon." "This is a ch_ _ ch. What is missing?" ---> (U R) "Forbidden fruit creates many jams." "In the dark? Follow the Son." "Running low on faith? Stop in for a fill-up." "If you can't sleep, don't count sheep. Talk to the Shepherd."

Bloopers in the church

Bloopers in the church
The following are actual church bulletin board bloopers found in churches across the United States.11. "Next Sunday Mrs. Vinson will be soloist for the morning service. The pastor will then speak on 'It's a Terrible Experience'." 12. "Due to the Rector's illness, Wednesday's healing services will be discontinued until further notice." 13. "Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM. Please use large double door at the side entrance." 14. "Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community." 15. "The eighth graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the church basement on Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy." 16. "A song fest was hell at the Methodist church Wednesday." 17. "Today's Sermon: 'How Much Can a Man Drink?' with hymns from a full choir." 18. On a church bulletin during the minister's illness: "God is good - Dr. Hargreaves is better." 19. "Potluck supper: prayer and medication to follow." 20. "The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church." 21. "Eight new choir robes are currently needed, due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones." 22. "The choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir." 23. A new loudspeaker system has been installed in the church. It was given by one of our members in honor of his wife. 24. Please join us as we show our suport for Amy and Alan in preparing for the girth of their first child.

Bloopers in the church

Bloopers in the church
The following are actual church bulletin board bloopers found in churches across the United States.Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children. The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church. Evening massage - 6 p.m. The Pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning. The audience is asked to remain seated until the end of the recession. Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 to 8:30 p.m. Please use the back door. Ushers will eat latecomers. The third verse of Blessed Assurance will be sung without musical accomplishment. For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs. The Rev. Merriwether spoke briefly, much to the delight of the audience. The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, "Break Forth Into Joy." During the absence of our pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J.F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit. Next Sunday Mrs. Vinson will be soloist for the morning service. The pastor will then speak on "It's a Terrible Experience." Due to the Rector's illness, Wednesday's healing services will be discontinued until further notice. Stewardship Offertory: "Jesus Paid It All" The music for today's service was all composed by George Friedrich Handel in celebration of the 300th anniversary of his birth. Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community. The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the church basement on Friday at 7 p.m. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy. The concert held in Fellowship Hall was a great success. Special thanks are due to the minister's daughter, who labored the whole evening at the piano, which as usual fell upon her. Twenty-two members were present at the church meeting held at the home of Mrs. Marsha Crutchfield last evening. Mrs. Crutchfield and Mrs. Rankin sang a duet, The Lord Knows Why. A song fest was hell at the Methodist church Wednesday. Today's Sermon: HOW MUCH CAN A MAN DRINK? with hymns from a full choir. Hymn 43: "Great God, what do I see here?" Preacher: The Rev. Horace BlodgettHymn 47: "Hark! An awful voice is sounding" On a church bulletin during the minister's illness: GOD IS GOOD Dr. Hargreaves is better. Potluck supper: Prayer and medication to follow. Don't let worry kill you off - let the church help. The 1997 Spring Council Retreat will be hell May 10 and 11. Pastor is on vacation. Massages can be given to church secretary.

Overcrowded church

Overcrowded church
The two thousand member church was filled to overflowing capacity one Sunday morning. The preacher was ready to start the sermon when two men, dressed in long black coats and black hats entered thru the rear of the church.One of the two men walked to the middle of the church while the other stayed at the back of the church. They both then reached under their coats and withdrew automatic weapons.The one in the middle announced, "Everyone willing to take a bullet for Jesus stay in your seats!"Naturally, the pews emptied, followed by the choir. The deacons ran out the door, followed by the choir director and the assistant pastor.After a few moments, there were about twenty people left sitting in the church. The preacher was holding steady in the pulpit.The men put their weapons away and said, gently, to the preacher, "All right, pastor, the hypocrites are gone now. You may begin the service."

Do you go to church

Do you go to church?
A friend was in front of me coming out of church one day, and the preacher was standing at the door as he always is to shake hands. He grabbed my friend by the hand and pulled him aside.The Pastor said to him, "You need to join the Army of the Lord!" My friend replied, "I'm already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor." Pastor questioned, "How come I don't see you except at Christmas and Easter?" He whispered back, "I'm in the secret service.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


A literal meal, commemorative of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ; hence, a memorial of his death. Since it is the only event Scripturally commanded to be memorialized by Christians, it is also properly termed the Memorial. It is sometimes called “the Lord’s supper.”—1Co 11:20, KJ.

The institution of the Lord’s Evening Meal is reported on by two apostles who were eyewitnesses and participants, namely, Matthew and John. Mark and Luke, though not present on the occasion, fill in some details. Paul, in giving instructions to the Corinthian congregation, provides enlightenment on some of its features. These sources tell us that, on the evening before his death, Jesus met with his disciples in a large upper room to observe the Passover. (Mr 14:14-16) Matthew reports: “As they continued eating, Jesus took a loaf and, after saying a blessing, he broke it and, giving it to the disciples, he said: ‘Take, eat. This means my body.’ Also, he took a cup and, having given thanks, he gave it to them, saying: ‘Drink out of it, all of you; for this means my “blood of the covenant,” which is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins. But I tell you, I will by no means drink henceforth any of this product of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in the kingdom of my Father.’ Finally, after singing praises, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”—Mt 26:17-30; Mr 14:17-26; Lu 22:7-39; Joh 13:1-38; 1Co 10:16-22; 11:20-34.

Time of Its Institution. The Passover was always observed on Nisan (Abib) 14, being on or near the day of full moon, inasmuch as the first day of every month (lunar month) in the Jewish calendar was the day of the new moon, as determined by visual observation. Therefore the 14th day of the month would be about the middle of a lunation. The date of Jesus’ death is shown in the article JESUS CHRIST (Time of his death) to be Nisan 14, 33 C.E. Concerning the day of his death as reckoned on the Gregorian calendar, astronomical calculations show that there was an eclipse of the moon on Friday, April 3, 33 C.E. (Julian calendar), which would be Friday, April 1, on the Gregorian calendar. (Oppolzer’s Canon of Eclipses, translated by O. Gingerich, 1962, p. 344) Eclipses of the moon always occur at the time of full moon. This evidence strongly indicates that Nisan 14, 33 C.E., fell on Thursday-Friday, March 31–April 1, 33 C.E., on the Gregorian calendar.

It was on the evening before his death that Jesus observed his last Passover meal and afterward instituted the Lord’s Evening Meal. Even before the Memorial meal began, the traitorous Judas was sent out, at which time, according to the record, “it was night.” (Joh 13:30) Since the days of the Jewish calendar ran from evening of one day to evening of the next, the Lord’s Evening Meal was celebrated also on Nisan 14, on Thursday evening, March 31.—See DAY.

How Often Observed. According to Luke and Paul, when instituting the Memorial of his death Jesus said: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” (Lu 22:19; 1Co 11:24) From this it is reasonable to understand that Jesus meant that his followers should celebrate the Lord’s Evening Meal annually, not more often. The Passover, observed in remembrance of Jehovah’s deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage in 1513 B.C.E., was commemorated only once a year, on the anniversary date of Nisan 14. The Memorial, also an anniversary, would appropriately be held only on Nisan 14.

Paul quoted Jesus as saying regarding the cup, “Keep doing this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me,” and added: “For as often as you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives.” (1Co 11:25, 26) “Often” can refer to something done only once a year, especially when done for many years. (Heb 9:25, 26) Nisan 14 was the day on which Christ gave his literal body as a sacrifice on the torture stake and poured out his lifeblood for forgiveness of sins. Hence, that was the day of “the death of the Lord” and, consequently, the date to commemorate his death thereafter.

The participants in this meal would be “absent from the Lord” and would celebrate the Lord’s Evening Meal “often” before their death in faithfulness. Then, following their resurrection to heavenly life, they would be together with Christ and would no longer need a remembrancer of him. Regarding the duration of this observance, “until he arrives,” the apostle Paul evidently had reference to Christ’s coming again and receiving them into heaven by a resurrection during the time of his presence. This understanding of the matter is clarified by Jesus’ words to the 11 apostles later that evening: “If I go my way and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you home to myself, that where I am you also may be.”—Joh 14:3, 4; compare 2Co 5:1-3, 6-9.

Jesus informed the disciples that the wine he had drunk (at this Passover preceding the Memorial) was the last of the product of the vine that he would drink “until that day when I drink it new with you in the kingdom of my Father.” (Mt 26:29) Since he would not be drinking literal wine in heaven, he obviously had reference to what wine sometimes symbolized in the Scriptures, namely, joy. Being together in the Kingdom was what they looked forward to with highest anticipation. (Ro 8:23; 2Co 5:2) King David wrote, in song, of Jehovah’s provision of “wine that makes the heart of mortal man rejoice,” and his son Solomon said: “Wine itself makes life rejoice.”—Ps 104:15; Ec 10:19.

The Emblems. Mark relates concerning the bread used by Jesus when instituting the Lord’s Evening Meal: “As they continued eating, he took a loaf, said a blessing, broke it and gave it to them, and said: ‘Take it, this means my body.’” (Mr 14:22) The loaf of bread was the kind on hand for the Passover meal that Jesus and his disciples had already concluded. This was unleavened bread, as no leaven was permitted in Jewish homes during the Passover and the associated Festival of Unfermented Cakes. (Ex 13:6-10) Leaven is used Scripturally to denote sinfulness. The unleavened quality of the bread is appropriate because it represents Jesus’ sinless fleshly body. (Heb 7:26; 9:14; 1Pe 2:22, 24) The unleavened loaf was flat and brittle; so it was broken, as was customary at meals in those days. (Lu 24:30; Ac 27:35) Earlier, when Jesus miraculously multiplied bread for thousands of persons, he broke it in order to distribute it to them. (Mt 14:19; 15:36) Consequently, the breaking of the Memorial bread apparently had no spiritual significance.

After Jesus had passed the bread, he took a cup and “offered thanks and gave it to them, and they all drank out of it. And he said to them: ‘This means my “blood of the covenant,” which is to be poured out in behalf of many.’” (Mr 14:23, 24) He used fermented wine, not unfermented grape juice. Biblical references to wine are to literal wine, not to the unfermented juice of the grape. (See WINE AND STRONG DRINK.) Fermented wine, not grape juice, would burst “old wineskins,” as Jesus said. Jesus’ enemies accused him of being “given to drinking wine,” a charge that would mean nothing if the “wine” were mere grape juice. (Mt 9:17; 11:19) Real wine was on hand for the Passover celebration that had been concluded, and it could appropriately be used by Christ in instituting the Memorial of his death. Doubtless the wine was red, for only red wine would be a fitting symbol of blood.—1Pe 1:19.

A Communion Meal. In ancient Israel a man could provide a communion meal. He would bring an animal to the sanctuary, where it was slaughtered. A portion of the animal offered went on the altar for “a restful odor to Jehovah.” A portion went to the officiating priest, another portion to the priestly sons of Aaron, and the offerer and his household shared in the meal. (Le 3:1-16; 7:28-36) One who was ‘unclean’ as defined by the Law was forbidden to eat a communion sacrifice on pain of being “cut off from his people.”—Le 7:20, 21.

The Lord’s Evening Meal is likewise a communion meal, because there is a sharing together. Jehovah God is involved as the Author of the arrangement, Jesus Christ is the ransom sacrifice, and his spiritual brothers eat the emblems as joint participants. Their eating at “the table of Jehovah” would signify that they are at peace with Jehovah. (1Co 10:21) In fact, communion offerings were sometimes called “peace offerings.”—Le 3:1, ftn.

Partakers of the meal, in eating the bread and drinking the wine, acknowledge that they are sharers together in Christ, in complete unity. The apostle Paul says: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of the Christ? The loaf which we break, is it not a sharing in the body of the Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, although many, are one body, for we are all partaking of that one loaf.”—1Co 10:16, 17.

In thus partaking, these indicate that they are in the new covenant and are receiving the benefits of it, that is, God’s forgiveness of sins through Christ’s blood. They properly esteem the value of “the blood of the covenant” by which they are sanctified. (Heb 10:29) The Scriptures call them “ministers of a new covenant,” serving its ends. (2Co 3:5, 6) And they fittingly partake of the emblematic loaf because they can say: “By the said ‘will’ we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.” (Heb 10:10) They share in Christ’s sufferings and in a death like his, a death of integrity. They hope to share in “the likeness of his resurrection,” a resurrection to immortal life in a spiritual body.—Ro 6:3-5.

Of each participant in the meal, the apostle Paul writes: “Whoever eats the loaf or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty respecting the body and the blood of the Lord. First let a man approve himself after scrutiny, and thus let him eat of the loaf and drink of the cup. For he that eats and drinks eats and drinks judgment against himself if he does not discern the body.” (1Co 11:27-29) Unclean, unscriptural, or hypocritical practices would disqualify one from eating. If he should eat in that condition, he would be eating and drinking judgment against himself. He would be failing to appreciate Christ’s sacrifice, its purpose, and its meaning. He would be showing disrespect and contempt for it. (Compare Heb 10:28-31.) Such a person would be in danger of being ‘cut off from God’s people,’ as was the one in Israel who partook of a communion meal in an unclean state.—Le 7:20.

In fact, Paul compares the Lord’s Evening Meal to an Israelite communion meal when he speaks first of the partakers sharing together in Christ and then says: “Look at that which is Israel in a fleshly way: Are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers with the altar? . . . You cannot be drinking the cup of Jehovah and the cup of demons; you cannot be partaking of ‘the table of Jehovah’ and the table of demons.”—1Co 10:18-21.

Partakers and Other Attenders at the Meal. Jesus had gathered his 12 apostles, saying to them: “I have greatly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.” (Lu 22:15) But John’s eyewitness account indicates that Jesus dismissed the traitorous Judas before instituting the Memorial meal. During the Passover, Jesus, knowing that Judas was his betrayer, dipped a morsel of the Passover meal and handed it to Judas, instructing him to leave. (Joh 13:21-30) Mark’s account also intimates this order of events. (Mr 14:12-25) During the Lord’s Evening Meal that followed, Jesus passed the bread and the wine to the 11 remaining apostles, telling them to eat and drink. (Lu 22:19, 20) Afterward he spoke to them as “the ones that have stuck with me in my trials,” a further indication that Judas had been dismissed.—Lu 22:28.

There is no evidence that Jesus himself ate the bread thus offered or drank out of the cup during this Memorial meal. The body and blood he gave was in their behalf and for validating the new covenant, through which their sins were removed. (Jer 31:31-34; Heb 8:10-12; 12:24) Jesus had no sins. (Heb 7:26) He mediates the new covenant between Jehovah God and those chosen as Christ’s associates. (Heb 9:15; see COVENANT.) Besides the apostles present at that meal, there were to be others making up the spiritual “Israel of God,” a “little flock,” who would eventually be kings and priests with Christ. (Ga 6:16; Lu 12:32; Re 1:5, 6; 5:9, 10) All of Christ’s spiritual brothers on earth, therefore, would be partakers in this meal each time it is celebrated. They are shown to be “certain firstfruits of his creatures” (Jas 1:18), bought from mankind as “firstfruits to God and to the Lamb,” and are revealed in John’s vision to number 144,000.—Re 14:1-5.

Observers not partaking. The Lord Jesus Christ revealed that, at his presence, there would be persons who would do good to his spiritual brothers, visiting them in time of need and giving them assistance. (Mt 25:31-46) Would these, who might attend the celebration of the Lord’s Evening Meal, qualify as partakers of the emblems? The Scriptures say that God will provide, through his holy spirit, evidence and assurance to those qualified to partake of the emblems as “heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ,” that they are God’s sons. The apostle Paul writes: “The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children.” He goes on to explain that there are others who benefit from God’s arrangement for these sons: “For the eager expectation of the creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God.” (Ro 8:14-21) Since the joint heirs with Christ are to ‘rule as kings and priests over the earth,’ the Kingdom will benefit those living under it. (Re 5:10; 20:4, 6; 21:3, 4) Those benefiting would naturally be interested in the Kingdom and its development. Such persons therefore would attend and observe the celebration of the Lord’s Evening Meal, but not being joint heirs with Christ and spiritual sons of God, they would not partake of the emblems as joint participants in the death of Christ, with hope of resurrection to a heavenly life with him.—Ro 6:3-5.

No Transubstantiation or Consubstantiation. Jesus still had his fleshly body when offering the bread. This body, whole and entire, was to be offered as a perfect, unblemished sacrifice for sins the next afternoon (of the same day of the Hebrew calendar, Nisan 14). He also retained all his blood for that perfect sacrifice. “He poured out his soul [which is in the blood] to the very death.” (Isa 53:12; Le 17:11) Consequently, during the evening meal he did not perform a miracle of transubstantiation, changing the bread into his literal flesh and the wine into his literal blood. For the same reasons, it cannot be truly said that he miraculously caused his flesh and his blood to be present or combined with the bread and wine, as is claimed by those who adhere to the doctrine of consubstantiation.

This is not contradicted by Jesus’ words at John 6:51-57. Jesus was not there discussing the Lord’s Evening Meal; such an arrangement was not instituted until a year later. The ‘eating’ and ‘drinking’ mentioned in this account are done in a figurative sense by exercising faith in Jesus Christ, as is indicated by verses 35 and 40.

Furthermore, eating actual human flesh and blood would be cannibalism. Therefore, Jews who were not exercising faith and who did not properly understand Jesus’ statement about eating his flesh and drinking his blood were shocked. This indicated the Jewish view on eating human flesh and blood, as inculcated by the Law.—Joh 6:60.

Additionally, drinking blood was a violation of God’s law to Noah, prior to the Law covenant. (Ge 9:4; Le 17:10) The Lord Jesus Christ would never instruct others to violate God’s law. (Compare Mt 5:19.) Furthermore, Jesus commanded: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me,” not in sacrifice of me.—1Co 11:23-25.

The bread and the wine are, therefore, emblems, representing Christ’s flesh and blood in a symbolic way, just as were his words about eating his flesh and drinking his blood. Jesus had said to those offended by his words: “For a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.” (Joh 6:51) This was given at his death as a sacrifice on the torture stake. His body was buried and was disposed of by his Father before it could see corruption. (Ac 2:31) No one ever ate any of his flesh or blood, literally.

Proper, Orderly Observance. The Christian congregation at Corinth had got into a bad spiritual state, in some respects, so that, as the apostle Paul said: “Many among you are weak and sickly, and quite a few are sleeping in death.” This was to a great extent due to their misunderstanding of the Lord’s Evening Meal and its significance. They were failing to respect the sacredness of the occasion. Some brought their supper with them to eat before or during the meeting. Among these were persons who overindulged and became intoxicated, while others in the congregation who had no supper were hungry and felt shamed in the presence of those who had much. With their minds drowsy or on other matters, they were not in condition to partake of the emblems with appreciation. Furthermore, there were divisions in the congregation over the fact that some in their midst favored Peter, others preferred Apollos, and yet others looked to Paul for leadership. (1Co 1:11-13; 11:18) They were failing to appreciate that this occasion was one that should highlight unity. They did not have full realization of the seriousness of the matter, that the emblems represented the body and blood of the Lord and that the meal was in memory of his death. Paul emphasized the grave danger to those who partook without discerning these facts.—1Co 11:20-34.
Lift Up Loyal Hands in Prayer

“I desire that in every place the men carry on prayer, lifting up loyal hands, apart from wrath and debates.”—1 TIMOTHY 2:8.

JEHOVAH expects his people to be loyal to him and to one another. The apostle Paul linked loyalty with prayer when he wrote: “I desire that in every place the men carry on prayer, lifting up loyal hands, apart from wrath and debates.” (1 Timothy 2:8) Apparently, Paul was referring to public prayer “in every place” where Christians met together. Who were to represent God’s people in prayer at congregation meetings? Only holy, righteous, reverent men who carefully observed all Scriptural duties toward God. (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14) They had to be spiritually and morally clean and unquestionably devoted to Jehovah God.

2 Especially should congregation elders ‘lift up loyal hands in prayer.’ Their heartfelt prayers through Jesus Christ display loyalty to God and help them to avoid debates and outbursts of wrath. Actually, any man privileged to represent the Christian congregation in public prayer should be free from wrath, ill will, and disloyalty to Jehovah and his organization. (James 1:19, 20) What further Biblical guidelines are there for those who are privileged to represent others in public prayer? And what are some Scriptural principles that we should apply in our private and family prayers?

Give Prayer Advance Thought

3 If we have been asked to pray publicly, likely we will be able to give our prayer at least some advance thought. Doing this may enable us to cover appropriate important matters without saying a lengthy, rambling prayer. Of course, our private prayers can also be vocalized. They may be of any length. Jesus spent an entire night praying before he chose his 12 apostles. When he instituted the Memorial of his death, however, his prayers over the bread and wine were apparently rather brief. (Mark 14:22-24; Luke 6:12-16) And we know that even Jesus’ short prayers were completely acceptable to God.

4 Suppose we are privileged to represent a family in prayer before a meal. Such a prayer could be fairly short—but whatever is said should include an expression of gratitude for the food. If we are praying publicly before or after a Christian meeting, we do not need to offer a long prayer covering many points. Jesus criticized the scribes who ‘made long prayers for a pretext.’ (Luke 20:46, 47) Never would a godly person want to do that. At times, though, a somewhat longer public prayer may be appropriate. For instance, an elder chosen to say the final prayer at an assembly should give it advance thought and may desire to mention several points. Yet, even such a prayer should not be of excessive length.

Approach God With Reverence

5 When praying publicly we should remember that we are not addressing humans. Rather, we are sinful creatures petitioning the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. (Psalm 8:3-5, 9; 73:28) We should therefore manifest reverential fear of displeasing him by what we say and how we express it. (Proverbs 1:7) The psalmist David sang: “As for me, in the abundance of your loving-kindness I shall come into your house, I shall bow down toward your holy temple in fear of you.” (Psalm 5:7) If we have that attitude, how will we express ourselves when asked to pray publicly at a meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Well, if we were speaking to a human king, we would do so respectfully and with dignity. Should not our prayers be even more dignified and respectful, since we are praying to Jehovah, the “King of eternity”? (Revelation 15:3) So when praying we would avoid such statements as, “Good morning, Jehovah,” “We send you our love,” or, “Have a nice day.” The Scriptures show that God’s only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, never addressed his heavenly Father in that way.

6 Paul said: “Let us . . . approach with freeness of speech to the throne of undeserved kindness.” (Hebrews 4:16) We can approach Jehovah with “freeness of speech” in spite of our sinful state because of our faith in the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (Acts 10:42, 43; 20:20, 21) Yet, such “freeness of speech” does not mean that we are chatting with God; nor should we say disrespectful things to him. If our public prayers are to please Jehovah, they must be offered with proper respect and dignity, and it would be inappropriate to use them to make announcements, counsel individuals, or lecture an audience.

Pray With a Humble Spirit

7 Whether we are praying publicly or privately, an important Scriptural principle to keep in mind is that we should display a humble attitude in our prayers. (2 Chronicles 7:13, 14) King Solomon manifested humility in his public prayer at the dedication of Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem. Solomon had just completed one of the most magnificent buildings ever constructed on the earth. Yet, he humbly prayed: “Will God truly dwell upon the earth? Look! The heavens, yes, the heaven of the heavens, themselves cannot contain you; how much less, then, this house that I have built!”—1 Kings 8:27.

8 Like Solomon, we should be humble when representing others in public prayer. Although we should avoid sounding sanctimonious, humility can be shown by our tone of voice. Humble prayers are not bombastic or melodramatic. They draw attention, not to the person praying, but to the One addressed. (Matthew 6:5) Humility is also shown by what we say in prayer. If we pray humbly, we will not sound as though we are demanding that God do certain things our way. Rather, we will petition Jehovah to act in a manner that harmonizes with his sacred will. The psalmist exemplified the proper attitude when he pleaded: “Ah, now, Jehovah, do save, please! Ah, now, Jehovah, do grant success, please!”—Psalm 118:25; Luke 18:9-14.

Pray From the Heart

9 If our public or private prayers are to please Jehovah, they must come from the heart. Thus, we will not merely repeat a prayer formula over and over again without thinking about what we are saying. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus counseled: “When praying, do not say the same things over and over again, just as the people of the nations do, for they [mistakenly] imagine they will get a hearing for their use of many words.” Put another way, Jesus said: “Do not babble words; do not utter empty repetitions.”—Matthew 6:7; footnote.

10 Of course, we may need to pray about the same matter time and again. That would not be wrong because Jesus urged: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) Perhaps there is a need for a new Kingdom Hall because Jehovah is prospering the local preaching work. (Isaiah 60:22) It would be proper to keep on mentioning this need when praying privately or when offering public prayers at meetings of Jehovah’s people. Doing so would not mean that we were ‘uttering empty repetitions.’

Remember Gratitude and Praise

11 Many people pray only to ask for something, but our love for Jehovah God should move us to give him thanks and praise in both private and public prayer. “Do not be anxious over anything,” wrote Paul, “but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6, 7) Yes, in addition to supplications and petitions, we should express thankfulness to Jehovah for spiritual and material blessings. (Proverbs 10:22) The psalmist sang: “Offer thanksgiving as your sacrifice to God, and pay to the Most High your vows.” (Psalm 50:14) And a prayerful melody of David included these touching words: “I will praise the name of God with song, and I will magnify him with thanksgiving.” (Psalm 69:30) Should we not do the same in public and private prayer?

12 Regarding God, the psalmist sang: “Come into his gates with thanksgiving, into his courtyards with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For Jehovah is good; his loving-kindness is to time indefinite, and his faithfulness to generation after generation.” (Psalm 100:4, 5) Today, people of all nations are entering the courtyards of Jehovah’s sanctuary, and for this we can give him praise and thanks. Do you express gratitude to God for the local Kingdom Hall and demonstrate your appreciation by regularly assembling there with those who love him? While there, do you heartily raise your voice in songs of praise and thankfulness to our loving heavenly Father?

Never Feel Ashamed to Pray

13 Even if we feel unworthy because of guilt, we should turn to God in earnest supplication. When the Jews sinned by taking foreign wives, Ezra knelt, spread out his loyal palms to God, and humbly prayed: “O my God, I do feel ashamed and embarrassed to raise my face to you, O my God, for our errors themselves have multiplied over our head and our guiltiness has grown great even to the heavens. From the days of our forefathers we have been in great guiltiness until this day . . . And after all that has come upon us for our bad deeds and our great guiltiness—for you yourself, O our God, have underestimated our error, and you have given us those who have escaped such as these—shall we go breaking your commandments again and forming marriage alliances with the peoples of these detestable things? Will you not get incensed at us to the limit so that there will be none remaining and none escaping? O Jehovah the God of Israel, you are righteous, because we have been left over as an escaped people as at this day. Here we are before you in our guiltiness, for it is impossible to stand before you on account of this.”—Ezra 9:1-15; Deuteronomy 7:3, 4.

14 To receive God’s forgiveness, confession to him must be coupled with contrition and “fruits that befit repentance.” (Luke 3:8; Job 42:1-6; Isaiah 66:2) In Ezra’s day, a repentant attitude was accompanied by an effort to right the wrong by dismissing the foreign wives. (Ezra 10:44; compare 2 Corinthians 7:8-13.) If we are seeking God’s forgiveness for serious wrongdoing, let us make confession in humble prayer and produce fruits befitting repentance. A repentant spirit and a desire to right the wrong would also move us to seek the spiritual help of Christian elders.—James 5:13-15.

Draw Comfort From Prayer

15 When our heart is in pain for some reason, we can find comfort in prayer. (Psalm 51:17; Proverbs 15:13) Loyal Hannah did. She lived when large families were common in Israel, but she had borne no children. Her husband, Elkanah, had sons and daughters by his other wife, Peninnah, who taunted Hannah for being barren. Hannah prayed earnestly and promised that if she was blessed with a son, ‘she would give him to Jehovah all the days of his life.’ Comforted by her prayer and by the words of High Priest Eli, Hannah “became self-concerned no more.” She gave birth to a boy whom she named Samuel. Later, she turned him over for service at Jehovah’s sanctuary. (1 Samuel 1:9-28) Grateful for God’s kindness toward her, she offered a prayer of thanksgiving—one that lauded Jehovah as the one without equal. (1 Samuel 2:1-10) Like Hannah, we can draw comfort from prayer, confident that God answers all requests that harmonize with his will. When we pour out our heart to him, let us be “self-concerned no more,” for he will remove our burden or will enable us to bear it.—Psalm 55:22.

16 If a situation causes fear, pain of heart, or anxiety, let us not fail to turn to God for comfort in prayer. (Psalm 55:1-4) Jacob was fearful when about to meet his estranged brother, Esau. Yet, Jacob prayed: “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Jehovah, you who are saying to me, ‘Return to your land and to your relatives and I will deal well with you,’ I am unworthy of all the loving-kindnesses and of all the faithfulness that you have exercised toward your servant, for with but my staff I crossed this Jordan and now I have become two camps. Deliver me, I pray you, from my brother’s hand, from Esau’s hand, because I am afraid of him that he may come and certainly assault me, mother together with children. And you, you have said, ‘Unquestionably I shall deal well with you and I will constitute your seed like the grains of sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’” (Genesis 32:9-12) Esau did not assault Jacob and his entourage. Thus Jehovah did “deal well” with Jacob on that occasion.

17 During our supplications, we may be comforted by recalling things said in God’s Word. In the longest psalm—a beautiful prayer set to music—it may have been Prince Hezekiah who sang: “I have remembered your judicial decisions from time indefinite, O Jehovah, and I find comfort for myself.” (Psalm 119:52) In humble prayer when we are sorely tried, we may recall a Bible principle or law that can help us to pursue a course resulting in the comforting assurance that we are pleasing our heavenly Father.

Loyal Ones Persevere in Prayer

18 All who are loyal to Jehovah God will “persevere in prayer.” (Romans 12:12) In the 32nd Psalm, possibly composed after David sinned with Bath-sheba, he described his agony for failing to seek forgiveness and the relief that repentance and confession to God brought him. Then David sang: “On this account [because Jehovah’s pardon is available to truly repentant ones] every loyal one will pray to you at such a time only as you may be found.”—Psalm 32:6.

19 If we cherish our relationship with Jehovah God, we will pray for his mercy on the basis of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. In faith, we can approach the throne of undeserved kindness with freeness of speech to obtain mercy and timely help. (Hebrews 4:16) But there are so many reasons for prayer! Let us therefore “pray incessantly”—often with words of heartfelt praise and gratitude to God. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Day and night, let us lift up loyal hands in prayer.

How Would You Answer?

· Of what benefit is it to give public prayer advance thought?

· Why should we pray in a respectful and dignified manner?

· What spirit should we display when praying?

· When praying, why should we remember thanks and praise?

· How does the Bible show that we can draw comfort from prayer?

King Solomon manifested humility in his public prayer at the dedication of Jehovah’s temple

Like Hannah, you can draw comfort from prayer
Does God Have a Name?

MANY people might say: ‘Does God’s name matter? There is only one Supreme Being.’ For example, a clergyman in Canada once said: “The name that people give to God is also unimportant.” This cleric held that it would make no difference if one used “Allah,” as do Moslems, or “Manitou,” as do some North American Indians. Many of the clergy have the same opinion.

But let us consider: Why do we use names? What is in a name?

Basically, names are used for identification. They are also often closely linked with personal achievements or fame. To millions, such names as Alexander the Great or Ghandi immediately bring to mind the achievements of these men.

But why is God’s name necessary? Because, although many people believe in only one true God, countless others worship many gods. Hindu people have millions of gods. In other parts of Asia and in Africa, millions worship their ancestors. Many worship the State, political leaders or “stars” of the stage or screen. And of others, it is said that “their god is their belly.”—Phil. 3:19.

To distinguish the Supreme Being from this “galaxy” of gods, he has a very exclusive and personal name. And this name, as we shall see, is not only important for identification but vitally linked with his reputation. He has made a name for himself.


Could God’s name be “Allah”? No. As a good dictionary will show you, “Allah” is a shortened form of the Arabic term meaning “the god.” Obviously, this is not a name.

How about “Lord”? That is not a name either. “There are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords,’ ” says the Bible. (1 Cor. 8:5) The Spanish word for “Lord,” used frequently in Spanish versions of the Bible, is Señor, which usually means “mister” or “sir.” How could that possibly be a personal, exclusive name for the Supreme Being?

Some might say: ‘Is not Jesus the name of God?’ When the birth of Jesus was announced to Mary, the heavenly messenger or angel told her: “You are to call his name Jesus. This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:30-32) So Jesus is the name of God’s Son, not that of the Supreme Being. Jesus himself said: “The Father is greater than I am.”—John 14:28; compare Proverbs 30:4.

Being God’s Son, Jesus enjoys a very close relationship with his Father. And Jesus made it clear that his Father has a name. When Christ taught his disciples the famous Model Prayer, sometimes called the “Lord’s Prayer,” his very first words were: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified.” (Matt. 6:9) In a subsequent prayer to his Father, Jesus said: “I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me. . . . I have made your name known to them and will make it known.” (John 17:6, 26) Accordingly, Jesus revealed to them the full significance of the Father’s name.

Interestingly, the Hebrew form of “Jesus” is “Jehoshuah,” which is an abbreviated form of “Jehovah-yeshua,” meaning “Jehovah is salvation.” So there it is—the name of the Father, the Supreme Being, is JEHOVAH. And how appropriate that Jesus, as Jehovah’s agent for salvation, should thus be named after his Father!


The name “Jehovah” is found in numerous writings and in many places. But the principal source of the name is in ancient Hebrew writings contained in the Bible. You may say, ‘Well, I have never seen that name in my Bible.’ It is true that some Bibles do not use God’s name. But remember that what we have in our Bibles are translations, and translators vary in their renderings of the original text. That happens not only with the Bible but also with any book or article that is translated by different people.

For example, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, widely used in this magazine, contains the name “Jehovah” thousands of times. But in the well-known King James Version it is found only a few times. If you have a copy of this latter Bible, check the book of Exodus, chapter 6, verse 3, and you will find these words: “And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.”

Maybe you prefer a Catholic translation. Many of them do not contain the name of God. But if you have a copy of The Jerusalem Bible, a modern Catholic translation, and care to check the above-mentioned verse, you will find that it uses the name “Yahweh” instead of “Jehovah.” Why is that?


“Yahweh” (sometimes “Jahveh”) is simply an attempt to express God’s name in a form nearer to the original Hebrew. In writing ancient Hebrew, only consonants, no vowels, were used. God’s name in the older Hebrew manuscripts is shown as ???? (YHWH or JHVH), and Bible commentators often refer to these characters as the “Tetragrammaton,” meaning “four letters.”

Down through the centuries, the correct pronunciation of the divine name in Hebrew has been lost. Hence, it is uncertain what vowels should be used to fill in the name. By combining vowel signs of the two Hebrew words A·do·nay´ (Lord) and El·o·him´ (God) with the Tetragrammaton, the pronunciation Ye·ho·wah´ was formed. Eventually, in a Latinized form, this became “Jehovah.” Nevertheless, many Hebrew scholars say that “Yahweh” is more correct. But Rudolph Kittel, editor of Biblia Hebraica, vowelizes the Hebrew tetragram as “Yehwah,” in all his editions.


The name “Jehovah,” however, is far more widely known and used. For centuries, it has appeared in Bible translations and literature of all kinds. It also appears in various inscriptions. For example, a Latin inscription on the municipal coat of arms of the city of Plymouth, England, reads Turris Fortissima Est Nomen Jehova, meaning: “The name Jehovah is the strongest tower.” (See Proverbs 18:10.) Hence, the name “Jehovah” appears even on the local buses.

Now let us pay a brief “visit” to the island of Minorca in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Spain. Here, in the main town of Mahón, the Tetragrammaton appears on the wall in a public vegetable market, formerly a church cloister. Nearby, in the small town of San Luis, the Hebrew letters of Jehovah’s name have been inscribed on the local church tower.

Now let us look inside the famous Cathedral of Toledo, Spain’s ancient ecclesiastical city. Notice the beautiful fresco on the ceiling of the principal vestry. It is the work of Lucas Giordano, a famous Italian painter of the 17th century. There, in a prominent position, are the four Hebrew letters of God’s name.

Perhaps the most famous of all Christendom’s churches is St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. There, adorning the tomb of Pope Pius X (1835-1914), is a painting of the high priest of Israel with the Tetragrammaton on his headdress. It is also found on a band on the forehead of a statue decorating the tomb of Pope Clement XIII (1693-1769).

Have you ever heard of the “Flavit Jehovah” medal? It was struck to commemorate the victory of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588 C.E.—when a fierce tempest finished off the invaders. Inscribed on this medal are these words in Latin and Hebrew: Flavit ???? et dissipati sunt—“Jehovah blew and they were scattered.”

Lovers of serious music are well acquainted with the majestic “Hallelujah chorus” from Handel’s famous oratorio, The Messiah. Millions of people have heard it sung since its first performance in 1743. But how many have realized that “Hallelujah” (or, “Alleluiah”) means “Praise Jehovah”?

Another famous musician, Franz Schubert, composed the music for a song entitled “The Almightiness” (German, Die Allmacht), taking as its theme: “Great Is Jehovah, the Lord!” (See page 16.)

The personal name of God is honored and displayed in countless other places and settings. A little research also leaves no doubt that JHVH (YHWH) is the NAME of the Supreme Being, as shown in the Hebrew Bible. How often does that sacred name appear there? SIX THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED AND SIXTY TIMES! Is it not very obvious that the divine name was NOT MEANT TO BE LEFT OUT?

And yet many Bible translations have omitted God’s name. Why? Before answering, let us consider God’s name in history.


Webster’s New International Dictionary (1955) says concerning “Jehovah”: “The Supreme Being; God; the Almighty . . . A Christian form given the Tetragrammaton.”

Church tower Menorca, Spain

City buses Plymouth, England

Statue on tomb of Pope Clement XIII