In responding to other article on Jehovah’s Witnesses beliefs, I ended up examining a section from a publication,Reasoning from the Scriptures, from the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, . The section was on being “Born Again” and what that means to them. While I did not tackle every single paragraph in the section, I covered what I considered the major points and in so doing learned quite a bit myself. I wanted to post this on my page so you guys can see the problems I have with their theology and reasoning. Also, for all of those who study with Jehovah’s Witnesses or are one yourself, pay attention to what you read. Always read with a critical mind and test what someone is telling you no matter how much you believe in them.
To delve into this subject a little deeper I would like to examine the reasoning that forms Jehovah’s Witnesses beliefs laid out in the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society’s (WTB&TS) publication Reasoning from the Scriptures (RftS). This may shed some extra light on why they believe what they do and where they are getting it from.
On page 77 of RftS we come to a section about “Only persons who have been “born again,” thus becoming God’s sons, can share in the heavenly Kingdom” (WTB&TS). Further RftS says that John 1:12,13 teaches that it was the Jews who can only be born again. To illustrate this the reader is told “(As many as did receive him” does not mean all humans who have put faith in Christ. Notice who is being referred to, as indicated by verse 11 [“his own people,” the Jews]. The same privilege has been extended to others of mankind, but only to a little flock.”)” (WTB&TS,77)
First John is not even talking to a Jewish crowd, it is a narrative to open his Gospel, and nowhere does it imply that only the Jews could be born again. As a matter of fact, grammatically all kinds of assumptions or interpretations could be drawn from the insert from RftS. Was it the supposed crowd, the Jewish reader, or any reader for that matter. Were there only Jews in the supposed crowd? What about proselytes and gentiles who put faith in him. I believe there is a little deception or very bad theology being presented here. John 1:11 does state “his own people”, but if we read John1:11 in its entirety we will see something completely different. John1:11 reads, “He came to his own home, but his own people did not accept him.” (NWT,1426). Then verse 12 continues, “However, to all who did receive him, he gave authority to become God’s children,e because they were exercising faith in his name.f” (NWT, 1426). This seems to imply at the very least that his own people, the Jews, did not receive him but there were others that did, Jews and Gentiles. Notice in John1:12 it says, “to all who did who did receive him,” (NWT,1426). Interestingly enough the WTB&TS still quote the 1984 version of the NWT, “However, as many as did receive him.” Yet the NWT 2013 version says, “to ALL”. (More than likely the WTB&TS has yet to simply update RftS, but still worth of notation.) John 1:12-13 doesn’t say to any Jew or to all Jews and I find it deeply disturbing that the WTB&TS use verse 11 in the manner that they do. In conclusion I ask, is the WTB&TS trying to reason with us by saying the ones who are going to be born again are “his own people” that rejected him(Yahshua)?
For better context, we are going to look at the NWT’s own references and John chapter 1.
In John chapter 1, we are led to believe that the speaker is talking to only the Jews when the author is narrating up to verse 15. Verse 12 seems to indicate that anyone could receive this authority, not just a Jew. If we back up to verse 7 we see that “the light” was meant so that “people of all sorts might believe through him.” (NWT,1426). So, the context in John Ch.1 1-14 talks about men, the world, peoples of all sorts and only in 11 do we see Yahshua’s people referenced, which would make verse 12 see a bit odd in contrast to the previous verse if it was only about the Jews since they were just referenced in a negative way. I want to return to RftS p. 77. When the WTB&TS quotes John 1:12,13, they add in, “The same privilege has been extended to others of mankind, but only to a “little flock.” (WTB&TS,77). Where does John 1:12-13 say this in anyway. It doesn’t. John 1:12 says “all who did receive him”, not the Jews and some other gentiles. This is just inserted and we the reader or listener are supposed to accept it. Let us test it though and see if the same standard the WTB&TS put on John 1:12-13 stands up to the little flock teaching.
In Luke 12:32 we are told that the little flock are only those 144,000 that are born again. If we apply the same standard Reasoning from the Scriptures puts on John1:12-13 will we see what the little flock is? In RftS we are told to pay attention to who the audience is, so let us look at who the audience is in Luke 12:32. In Luke Ch. 12 Yahshua is talking to a Jewish crowd and his disciples. Where are the gentiles? How is it that John1:12-13 is said to only refer to Jews or Israel when there is no audience present, and the little flock are the others of mankind, but when we read Luke 12:32, Yeshua is only talking to a Jewish audience and that is somehow supposed to be gentiles or “the others” he is referring to. There is no mention or even context of two separate peoples. There is not even a differentiation between those being born again from the Jews and the “little flock” gentiles. It is not even in the context.
Next I want to turn our attention RftS p. 77-78. On page 77 there is a section called “Can a person who is not “born again” be saved?” (WTB&TS, 77). In the second paragraph on p. 78 I find their reasoning very interesting. RftS states:
“After listing many pre-Christian persons of faith, Hebrews 11:39,40 says: “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, in order that they might not be made perfect apart from us.” (Who are here meant by “us”? Hebrews 3:1 shows that they are “partakers of the heavenly calling.” The pre-Christian persons who had faith, then, must have a hope for perfect life somewhere other than in heaven.)
Now there is a lot to digest here, but we will start by reasoning, does did not get the fulfillment mean that they never will get it? This is a huge problem if one stops and thinks about it. When does God ever promise something that he will not deliver? He doesn’t, Father Yahweh never fails his people. To get a better understanding let’s go back a few verses to see what is going on. Hebrews 11:13-16:
“13 In faith all of these died, although they did not receive the fulfillment of the promises;a but they saw them from a distanceb and welcomed them and publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land.14 For those who speak in such a way make it evident that they are earnestly seeking a place of their own. 15 And yet, if they had kept remembering the place from which they had departed,c they would have had opportunity to return.16 But now they are reaching out for a better place, that is, one belonging to heaven….”(NWT,1611)
Verse 13 says they didn’t receive the fulfillment which means the promises were not complete. Nowhere does it say their promises were taken away. It goes on to say they saw them from afar off and said they were strangers in this land. How are they going to be strangers, when they going to be resurrected right back to Earth? Verse 14 says they would even return to that land if they kept dwelling on it. Now if we apply the same standard RftS applies to 1 Peter 1:3,4(as you will see in the next paragraph) does verse 16 mean they are going to heaven? Verse 19 we have Abraham reasoning that if he offers up his son, God will still resurrect him to the promises that they were seeing in verse 13. Why would you kill your son for a promise he would never see? Especially if that promise was meant for someone else, i.e. the future Christians. Also, where is the replacement or other promise that Abraham and the rest of the “pre-Christians now have to rely on? I submit that they are all one in the same, just viewed from a different point in time. I also want to bring up the glaring question of why did they not receive the promise and what was it replaced with? Does chapter 11 talk about heaven being the promise that is being taken away from
Last I want to cover how the born again go to heaven. On page 77 from the “Only persons who have been “born again,” thus becoming God’s sons, can share in the heavenly kingdom” (WTB&TS, 77), 1 Peter 1:3,4 is quoted, and it is the last part that is used to say the born again go to heaven. 1 Peter 1:4 “to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance. It is reserved in the heavens for you.” (NWT, 1621). Does something being reserved in the heavens mean you or the born again are going there? Let us look at James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect present is from above, coming down from the Father of the celestial lights, …” (NWT, 1616). Does James 1:17 mean that all good gifts we get in this world literally fall from heaven above like Santa dropping gifts, or does it mean that it is willed from the Father in heaven. With this in mind 1 Peter 1:4 does not explicitly teach the born again are going to heaven. More likely this verse is saying that the born again’s faith of a better life is just that, reserved in a future plan awaiting to be given to them, the righteous.
The key when examining any JW belief is follow the references and verses meant to support a particular belief and more times than not the verse(s) used are not even in the context or realm of what is being taught.
- Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Reasoning from the Scriptures.
Brooklyn: WTB&TS, 1985. Print
- Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. Wallkill: WTB&TS, 2013. Print