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  1. 1 Corinthians 15:42-53

    Paul is evidently providing a commentary on Jesus' words about the harvest, which occurs after the sign of the Son of man appears in heaven. (Matthew 24:30, 31) 30 Then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity. Just as Paul spoke of this as a harvest (gathering) of the chosen ones, [sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body] Jesus also spoke of this gathering as a harvest, after the time for the growing season is complete, after the wheat no longer grow along with the weeds: (Matthew 13:38-43) . . .As for the fine seed, these are the sons of the Kingdom, but the weeds are the sons of the wicked one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is a conclusion of a system of things, and the reapers are angels. 40 Therefore, just as the weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be in the conclusion of the system of things. 41 The Son of man will send his angels, and they will collect out from his Kingdom all things that cause stumbling and people who practice lawlessness, 42 and they will pitch them into the fiery furnace. There is where their weeping and the gnashing of their teeth will be. 43 At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.. . . Since the wheat and weeds are still growing together, we can see that we have not yet reached the harvest. But Jesus is speaking of the same thing: sown a physical body (growing alongside weeds in Satan's system), but a harvest time will come at the final end (synteleia) when the righteous ones will shine as "spiritual bodies" -- brightly as the sun. And Paul ties it together again in Thessalonians: (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17) 14 For if we have faith that Jesus died and rose again, so too God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in death through Jesus. 15 For this is what we tell you by Jehovah’s word, that we the living who survive to the presence of the Lord will in no way precede those who have fallen asleep in death; 16 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. 17 Afterward [or "at the same time"] 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 will always be with the Lord. Of course, this "harvest" or "gathering" is tied directly to the "manifestation" "revelation" "parousia" and "synteleia" which is also an indication that we could expect the Watchtower to someday change the two-stage parousia teaching to one that fits the context of all these verses at the same time. Of course, this wouldn't change much at all except for the vocabulary. We would still know that Christ is present for all of us, just as he promised he would be right up until the conclusion. But we would still be waiting patiently for that special visible presence/manifestation referred to in Greek as the "parousia." (This is different from the Watchtower's current teaching, of course.) (James 5:7, 8) 7 Be patient then, brothers, until the presence of the Lord. Look! The farmer keeps waiting for the precious fruit of the earth, exercising patience over it until the early rain and the late rain arrive. 8 You too exercise patience; make your hearts firm, because the presence of the Lord has drawn close.
  2. What does 666, the 'mark of the beast' really signify?

    It's not new. The possibility that 616 might be correct, was already acknowledged by a person who was born between only about 15 to 30 years after the apostle John died. At such an early date, every known difference among the Bible manuscripts would have been significant, because there were so few manuscripts of the Bible books at this time, compared to later. So any differences, if not caught right away, could result in a mistake that would be with us for the next 2,000 years. As it turns out, we don't need the "witness" of the man born as few as 15 years after the apostle John died. The very earliest known fragment of the book of Revelation also says 616, not 666. Note this from Wikipedia: Around 2005, a fragment from Papyrus 115, taken from the Oxyrhynchus site, was discovered at the Oxford University's Ashmolean Museum. It gave the beast's number as 616 χιϛʹ. This fragment is the oldest manuscript . . . of Revelation 13 found as of 2017.[2][3]Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, known before the P115 finding but dating to after it, has 616 written in full: ἑξακόσιοι δέκα ἕξ, hexakosioi deka hex (lit. "six hundred and sixteen").[17] Fragment from Papyrus 115 (P115) of Revelation in the 66th vol. of the Oxyrhynchus series (P. Oxy. 4499).[16] Has the number of the beast as χιϛ, 616. What looks like XIC in the fragment is actually Greek for "xis" which are the numerals for 6+10+600 or 616. But to show that this was no simple copyist error, the verse also spells out the word for 616 in the way that we spell it out in English as "six-hundred sixteen" (oder auf Deutsch "sechshundert sechzehn"). In the text of the manuscript in Greek this is spelled out as "hexakosioi deka hex" as already noted above. Irenaeus, the man born as few as 15 years after John, preferred 666 to 616, but provides the evidence that he already saw the number 616 in manuscripts in the same generation as the apostle John. Irenaeus said: Such, then, being the state of the case, and this number being found in all the most approved and ancient copies [of the Apocalypse], and those men who saw John face to face bearing their testimony [to it]; while reason also leads us to conclude that the number of the name of the beast, [if reckoned] according to the Greek mode of calculation by the [value of] the letters contained in it, will amount to six hundred and sixty and six; that is, the number of tens shall be equal to that of the hundreds, and the number of hundreds equal to that of the units (for that number which [expresses] the digit six being adhered to throughout, indicates the recapitulations of that apostasy, taken in its full extent, which occurred at the beginning, during the intermediate periods, and which shall take place at the end), - I do not know how it is that some have erred following the ordinary mode of speech, and have vitiated the middle number in the name, deducting the amount of fifty from it, so that instead of six decads they will have it that there is but one. [I am inclined to think that this occurred through the fault of the copyists, as is wont to happen, since numbers also are expressed by letters; so that the Greek letter which expresses the number sixty was easily expanded into the letter Iota of the Greeks.] - Adv. haer. 5.30 The Bible manuscript (P115) is not the only manuscript in which the 616 is found. Wikipedia also says: Although Irenaeus (2nd century AD) affirmed the number to be 666 . . . theologians have doubts about the traditional reading[13] because of the appearance of the figure 616 in the Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (C; Paris - one of the four great uncial codices), as well as in the Latin version of Tyconius (DCXVI, ed. Souter in the Journal of Theology, SE, April 1913), and in an ancient Armenian version (ed. Conybeare, 1907). Irenaeus knew about the 616 reading, but did not adopt it (Haer. v.30,3). In the 380s, correcting the existing Latin-language version of the New Testament (commonly referred to as the Vetus Latina), Jerome retained "666".[14][15] The P115 mss is probably from 225 C.E. to 250 C.E. Here, below, is how "666" was written in the Codex Vaticanus (between 350 and 400 C.E.): So either version has the potential to be correct. But the earliest evidence we have is for 616, not 666. Also we can think about whether it was more likely that a mnemonic number like 666 would more likely turn into a non-mnemonic 616 or would it be more likely that a non-mnemonic would be retained as a mnemonic. In the study of the history of textual changes, the difficult is simplified more often than the simple is made more difficult. In this case, however, there is an even better explanation as to why both 666 and 616 were both known at such an early date in the history of the manuscripts of Revelation. But that's another story, that is not necessary for this discussion.
  3. What does 666, the 'mark of the beast' really signify?

    I think the number was actually 616, not 666. Seriously.
  4. True (for the Russian Synodal Bible). And the Makarios Bible uses the Divine Name nearly 6,000 times. (OT only, of course.)
  5. Brother Murdered in England by Handicapped Mentally Person

    I found spiritual value in this little piece of information just quoted: 900 attended his funeral. I haven't taken the time to try to verify it, but it's still a piece of information that makes sense to me and whether the number is 100% accurate, I think it very likely reflects the truth. And it makes me feel just a bit better about the way we can handle such tragedies.
  6. Early Hebrews Believed in Leviathan

    I think at least a part of the explanation is that many literal readers of the Bible are unable to grasp the "poetry" and symbolism of the Bible. Poetry (often through lyrics) once captured the imagination of many readers and hearers of the Bible and almost every other story and history that was handed down from generation to generation. Poetry puts the mind of the hearer in a state that was ready to immediately see meaning in ideas that were not necessarily true in a literal way. Jesus (and James) more often taught with the symbolism of rural life. (i.e., sheep, goats, farms, fields, grain, harvest, weeds, trees, fruit, rain, sun, rocks.) Paul more often used the symbols of urban, city life, and rarely used the pastoral symbols Jesus used. These symbols seem so natural to their methods of teaching. There was also the ability to use symbols from Jewish (or even Greek/Roman) literature and folklore that was not necessarily true in a total literal sense but which added depth and meaning to the Christian teachings. Satan as a dragon was one of these. Ideas about the Greek Tartarus, and perhaps even the Greek Hades, on occasion, could make a point through analogy. Reference to books like Enoch, The Assumption of Moses, "Jannes and Jambres," etc., would more easily adapt to the poetic mind than the literalist, fundamentalist mind. Perhaps this applies: (1 Corinthians 2:14-16) 14 But a physical man does not accept the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot get to know them, because they are examined spiritually. 15 However, the spiritual man examines all things, but he himself is not examined by any man. 16 For “who has come to know the mind of Jehovah, so that he may instruct him?” But we do have the mind of Christ.
  7. There is no direct statement in the publications that we must "hide." You have included some bigger questions about timing and survival and obedience, and those are worth discussing. However, the logic of the two paragraphs indicates nothing about "hiding" in any modern-day fulfillment of Isaiah 26:20. The point was only that, in this past example, survival depended on obedience to "commands" and the same will be true in the near future.
  8. I wasn't saying it couldn't happen that a person would come out better after leaving Bethel. (I am exactly 18.3% better than I was.) Also, a person who has a specific issue to work on, if he takes advantage of the new circumstances at Bethel and learns from the experiences, can probably accomplish his goal, or overcome his issue. I was concerned about the idea that being in a certain place will impose some kind of predetermined effect on that person.
  9. Some would think, that by purposefully misunderstanding the summary of the study JTR quoted, that you are setting up your own sidekick routine, with the punchline prepared in the part I just requoted. I think that you are right in that the purpose of this study by Furuli was intended to show that JWs have only a third the mental illness based on the rate of the general population, and extrapolating, only approximately only a third of the suicide rate of the generation population. From what I know about Furuli, however, I wouldn't trust his numbers in the slightest. Also, Norway has privacy laws and practices that would only allow a health care professional to access data about medications and psychological treatment. Furuli is not a health care professional. If Bergen claims that such health issues are only 10% to 16% higher in JWs than the general population, I would not think this is so surprising in the time period that he tried to measure. Mental illness is more of a stigma among those who place a lower value on secular education. Those who place a higher value on secular education begin to understand that mental illness should carry no more stigma than intestinal illness. If there is a stigma, then it supposedly reflects badly on the reputation of the organization to admit it and therefore many JWs have gone untreated. I dare say that most of us are aware of such cases.
  10. I know of only about 7 suicides that provide some kind of instruction or lesson, in some way: (Judges 9:54) He [Abimelech] quickly called the attendant bearing his weapons and said to him: “Draw your sword and put me to death, so that they may not say about me, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his attendant ran him through, and he died. (Judges 16:30) Samson called out: “Let me die with the Phi·lisʹtines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and the house fell on the lords and all the people in it. So he killed more at his death than he had killed during his life. (1 Samuel 31:4) Then Saul said to his armor-bearer: “Draw your sword and run me through with it, so that these uncircumcised men may not come and run me through and deal ruthlessly with me.” But his armor-bearer was unwilling, because he was very much afraid. So Saul took the sword and fell on it. (1 Samuel 31:5) When his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his own sword and died with him. (2 Samuel 17:23) When A·hithʹo·phel saw that his advice had not been acted on, he saddled a donkey and went to his house in his hometown. After he gave instructions to his household, he hanged himself. . . . (1 Kings 16:18) When Zimʹri saw that the city had been captured, he went into the fortified tower of the king’s house and burned the house down over himself, and he died. (Acts 1:18) This very man, therefore, purchased a field with the wages for unrighteousness, and falling headfirst, his body burst open and all his insides spilled out. (Matthew 27:5) . . .Then he went off and hanged himself. I'm not sure what lesson could be learned from knowing. I knew about two persons who committed suicide while I was there and a couple other suicides just before and after. The long-time factory overseer, Brother Wheelock, was the most well-known. I have not tried to track whether there were others, or even whether the suicide mentioned in the original post is true. However, even if rates had been higher than usual, and I don't know that they were, it would not mean that we have a dangerous spiritual paradise as @Srecko Sostar posited. Brother Couch once suggested that too many congregations were purposely sending their emotionally disturbed young brothers in the hopes that Bethel would cure them. I have heard an elder recommend that we encourage a young brother who was considered to be homosexual to apply to Bethel because, supposedly, he would be "cured" just by being that close to the center of Jehovah's holy spirit. I cringed, but said that Bethel was not likely the right environment for such a brother.
  11. What's wrong with THIS?

    I see patriotism to the United States couched in semi-religious language. For most people this is not a bad thing. For many Christians it is a misplaced patriotism, because Christians --in solidarity with other Christians scattered throughout the world--do not identify with a single earthly nation: (James 1:1) 1 James, a slave of God and of [the] Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes that are scattered about:. . . (James 1:26, 27) . . .. 27 The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world. (Psalm 39:11, 12) . . .Surely every earthling man is an exhalation. Seʹlah. 12 Do hear my prayer, O Jehovah, . . . For I am but an alien resident with you, A settler the same as all my forefathers. (Hebrews 11:13-16) 13 In faith all these died, although they did not get the [fulfillment of the] promises, but they saw them afar off and welcomed them and publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land. 14 For those who say such things give evidence that they are earnestly seeking a place of their own. 15 And yet, if they had indeed kept remembering that [place] from which they had gone forth, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they are reaching out for a better [place], that is, one belonging to heaven. Hence God is not ashamed of them, to be called upon as their God, for he has made a city ready for them. (1 Peter 1:1) 1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the temporary residents scattered about in Ponʹtus, Ga·laʹti·a, Cap·pa·doʹci·a, Asia, and Bi·thynʹi·a, to the ones chosen (1 Peter 2:11, 12) 11 Beloved, I exhort YOU as aliens and temporary residents to keep abstaining from fleshly desires, which are the very ones that carry on a conflict against the soul. 12 Maintain YOUR conduct fine among the nations, that, in the thing in which they are speaking against YOU as evildoers, they may as a result of YOUR fine works of which they are eyewitnesses glorify God in the day for [his] inspection. In spite of all that, Fred Franz, at Bethel, from around 1976 to 1979, would make sure we had the American standard Thanksgiving meal (turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberries, pumpkin pie) on the exact day of Thanksgiving, and he would make a point of saying that while the United States of America is celebrating its Thanksgiving, we have even more reasons to celebrate. I think most of us thought about it as a kind of inside joke that only Fred Franz would try to get away with, and which might stumble those on the outside if they knew about it. Fred Franz was known for saying things specifically to be provocative or make others uncomfortable. But this could also have been a trial balloon for a change, who knows?
  12. Genesis 4

    God did not always let it happen. Cain himself was sure to be killed in revenge, so God's sense of justice protected Cain. Actually, the Bible record says that Jesus descended from Seth, not Cain: (Genesis 4:25) . . .Adam again had sexual relations with his wife, and she gave birth to a son. She named him Seth because, as she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring in place of Abel, because Cain killed him.” Not that it would have mattered so much, because Holy Spirit overshadowed the conception and birth of Jesus, so that it did not matter that Jesus descended through other murderers, such as King David. In fact, Matthew makes a point of mentioning only 4 women in the genealogy he provides for Jesus. Four out of four (100%) of the women mentioned were involved in some kind of sexual scandal, according to Jewish traditions. This may haven been a point to counter the fact that Jesus' mother Mary would also be accused of a sexual scandal.
  13. I just got off the plane (from Vancouver) and saw the above when my wi-fi came back on. It's a fake story, of course. You can still see the picture as it was used in a newspaper article about 2 years ago.
      Hello guest!
    The earliest appearance of the picture that I found is from December 1, 2015, when Trump was campaigning in New Hampshire. Someone might have thought that the girl looked Vietnamese, so the picture was used again to create "news" about his visit to Hanoi.
  14. How Common is Shunning?

    We're back to that problem again of trying to use the idea of conscience in a court of law as an obfuscation. You are right that very few Witnesses leave anything up to conscience. It's "spiritual" peer pressure to conform, where not conforming can result in anything from being looked down upon by peers, or a loss of privileges all the way up to being disfellowshipped yourself. I don't have a good solution, but I have seen the type of shunning of young family members that just seems childish on the part of the supposedly mature Witnesses who have to conform to the rule. I note that we no longer claim in court that corporeal punishment of minors is acceptable, and yet it obviously has Biblical precedent. I wonder if there's a way we would begin to conform to more modern norms of conduct, in obedience to the superior authorities in shunning cases, too.
  15. Texas Church Shooting: Two Dozen Parishioners Killed

    I just did a quick search on this and the first thing that came up was a video: After listening to the video I'm convinced that this person at "The Patriotic Beast" -- i.e., the person who made the video and claimed that he was the one who discovered the Antifa connection -- is lying through his teeth. Doesn't mean this guy isn't Antifa, but I doubt it seriously. The way this man at TPB manipulated the data and lied about it, so that he could claim "you heard it hear first," makes me think that almost everyone else who makes or focuses on this claim is also being disingenuous -- going for the obvious attempt to get this idea out there early to blunt the post-Trumpian reputational trends that sully the right wing of his party.