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  1. QUICK REVIEW So, we have these six words or terms from Matthew 24 (Mark 13 & Luke 21) for which we are trying to evaluate whether we have chosen a more likely meaning of the term, or a less likely meaning in order to arrive at the INVISIBLE PAROUSIA doctrine. It might even be possible to trace how some of the terms were apparently forced into their special meaning after the decision was made to declare that the PAROUSIA had indeed already begun. BACKGROUND Most of the persons who set dates for the visible return of Christ in the 19th century just stopped setting them as soon as a date didn't pan out. But some had invested so much time and effort into it that this was apparently impossible. Hundreds of thousands paid close attention to the 1843 date set initially by William Miller. When it failed another 1843 date was set, then an 1844 date, and Miller quit setting dates. (Russell would later claim that this showed that Miller was one of the 'foolish virgins whose lamp ran out of oil,' because Miller had given up on setting dates.) But others who had invested their life and reputation on it waited right up to the last day of 1844. Then, of course, new "adjustments" were discovered that put Jesus return in the 1850's, then the 1860's. But by now there were only tens of thousands paying attention. The typical thing to do was to show your faith by focusing on the very next date, but N H Barbour, after some study and decisions in 1859, decided to skip all those expectations for the mid-1860's and go straight to his 1873 date. (He did not settle on 1874 until 1873 failed.) This means that when the 1860's dates failed, Barbour was already set to gain a following for the 1873 date. Less people were setting dates, there were less to choose from that were still based on the Millerite foundation. (Miller himself had mentioned the possibility of the 1870's date, half a century earlier.) When it failed in 1873, Barbour had spent as much of his life as Miller had on these dates. He changed it to 1874, and when that failed he was truly depressed. One of his contributors, B W Keith, went back to some teachings that had been promoted in the 1820's about a two-stage parousia. The first stage would be invisible, and Benjamin Wilson who also believed in a two-stage parousia had published the "Diaglott" as an aid to supporting this idea. (Later the Watch Tower Society--Russell--bought the rights to reprint Benjamin Wilson's Diaglott so that most available copies today have the Watch Tower's name in them.) Barbour credited Keith with the two-stage idea in his tract ("magazine") and it got Barbour back on track. Barbour spoke about possibly picking up an extra 5,000 of the Second Adventists each month as new subscribers. He fully expected at least 20,000 of the current number of Second Adventists to subscribe. In 1877, Barbour convinced Russell of the urgency of this chronology, because just 3.5 years after the presence had begun, they expected Christ's bride to be changed and to have gone up to heaven in 1878 while "lesser" Christians awaited heaven at a later date. So the Russells sold off most of the assets of their largest company so that Barbour could distribute his tracts and booklets more widely. When 1878 failed, subscribers dropped, and trouble also broke out between Barbour and Russell. Barbour blamed it on disagreements with Russell about money. Russell blamed it on a doctrinal disagreement. (Russell had "crazy" views about the ransom that are no longer considered valid, and Barbour had his own "crazy" view.) By mid-1879 Russell had convinced three major contributors to Barbour to come over to his own new magazine. Russell also sent out an offer to all the Barbour subscribers to switch over to the Watch Tower. And it was also timed to pick up the current subscribers of a Second Adventist magazine from California as that magazine was just running out of money and discontinuing. So Russell printed up 8,000 copies of the first July 1879 issue. In 1879, there was still an urgency again for the next major date, because Russell expected the Bride of Christ to be changed in October 1881. (3.5 years plus 3.5 years from October 1874.) Lesser Christians would remain on earth until around 1914, when the Harvest would be complete. Because of the failure of 1881, the number of subscribers remained low. (8,000 had been an overestimate.) But the book series, Divine Plan of the Ages (1886), The Time is at Hand (1889), and Thy Kingdom Come (1891), were very popular, "proving" the 1874 chronology with charts containing pyramids and diagrams, and pointing to great expectations between then and up to 1914. Everything was invested into this idea of a two-stage parousia that started invisibly in 1874 and would manifest itself most visibly in the years just prior to 1914 (later adjusted to the year and months just following 1914). ---------------- Most people here are probably already generally aware of this background information, but it is difficult to understand why parts of the 1874 chronology lasted nearly 70 years -- until 1943/1944 without this background. (My father remembers believing in 1874, but says they were mostly calling it 1878 just before he was baptized.) It also can help explain why it was easy to just transfer the explanation of Matthew 24 from an 1874 chronology over to a 1914 chronology when that became necessary. Will pick up on another one of the terms in the next post.
  2. I'll propose one more of the terms to evaluate that we have given a special definition to. It's the term "LIGHTNING." LIGHTNING In the development of the "Invisible parousia" doctrine, the Watchtower has offered several different explanations of the meaning of "lightning" in Jesus phrase: (Matthew 24:27) 27 For just as the lightning comes out of the east and shines over to the west, so the presence [parousia] of the Son of man will be. (Luke 17:24) 24 For just as lightning flashes from one part of heaven to another part of heaven, so the Son of man will be in his day. Lightning is one of the most strikingly SUDDEN & VISIBLE phenomenon known to man, and the context of the verse is about how SUDDEN and UNEXPECTED the "parousia" could surprise people. But early in the years of developing the doctrine of an INVISIBLE PAROUSIA, Bible Students like N H Barbour, B W Keith, and later, C T Russell, knew that none of them had recognized the parousia when it began. No one suddenly understood when it had started. No one spotted it like a flash of lightning when it began. That's because there was an expectation of a sudden, bright and shining event that would start in 1874, but they were confused when it didn't happen. And it may have been a year or more later before it finally dawned on them that maybe they weren't wrong after all, maybe the PAROUSIA really did start in 1874, but it was invisible. The problem is that they would have to change the meaning of this verse. Here's how C.T.Russell promoted a change in meaning: 1897: Studies in the Scriptures, The Battle of Armageddon, was one of several places that changed it from "lightning" to "the Sun" which fit the theme of "millennial dawn" a little better. The bracketed words are in the original: "The Sun of Righteousness Shall Arise" "Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: or behold he is in the secret chamber; believe it not. For as the bright-shiner [the Sun] cometh out of the East and shineth even unto the West, so shall also the presence [Greek parousia] of the Son of Man be." Matt. 24:26,27. Here's how this was explained in the Watch Tower, in May 1914, p.5656 reprints, "Messiah's Kingdom To Be Invisible" "As the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, and shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of Man be in His Day." This astounding statement is better understood when we translate the Greek noun astrape as "shining" instead of "lightning"; for evidently it refers to the sun, which rises in the east and sets in the west, shining out of the one part of the heaven even unto the other. But how will this represent the Son of Man in His Day? How will He be like the sun? We answer that the Day of Christ is a thousand-year Day, the Millennium; and our Lord's statement was one of the "dark sayings" of which Jesus said, "I have many things to tell you, but ye cannot bear them now," and promised that in due time the Holy Spirit would grant them an enlightenment, that all of His words might be clearly understood. This portion, now due to be understood, is therefore becoming clear to those of spiritual discernment. Then, that they might gradually learn that these things belonged to a distant time . . . So by changing the meaning of the word, they didn't really have to explain why it took them so long for their spiritual insight to allow them to see, only after the fact, that the parousia really had begun in 1874. In answer to a letter from 1949, the Watchtower explained that this was changed (actual change was in 1934, but this in 1950 added an additional idea) as follows: *** w50 8/1 p. 239 Letters *** The book “The Time Is at Hand”, published in 1889, explained the Greek word “astrapé” in Matthew 24:27 to mean the sun as the ‘bright shiner’, because there Jesus mentioned the “astrapé” as coming out of the east and shining even to the west. (See said book at pages 155-157.) However, never in sacred Scripture nor in classical Greek literature is “astrapé” used to refer to the sun of our solar system. At Luke 17:24 Jesus makes a parallel statement, but does not designate any particular direction from which the lightning flashes, saying: “As the lightning [astrapé], that lighteneth [verb astrápto] out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.” Notice that expression “under heaven”, which befits lightning which occurs under the sun in the heavens obscured by the clouds. The Sun was an extremely unlikely translation of the word for lightning, and this article admitted further down that it was wrong and had no basis. The part quoted above also shows that Russell had forgotten to consider parallel verses in Luke and several other scriptures. The parallel in Luke will also be impportant for another reason. Note from above, near the beginning of this post, that the expression in Matthew "parousia of the Son of man" is paralleled with "the Son of man in his day." It's just another of many indicators that the parousia is less likely to refer to the entire "generation" of "last days" but that it more likely refers to the final judgment event. Note that for a time, the idea of associating "lightning" with clouds so that it could be associated with "INVISIBILITY" was attempted. In the Watchtower, August 15, 1940, p.241 the explanation was also a bit convoluted, because Jesus was still "present" since 1874, but had "come" in 1918, and both anointed and their companions still look to the future for the "manifestation" of his presence: Jesus' words cannot mean that zigzag lightning comes always out of the east and shines unto the west and that this represents his coming. What his words really mean is that the lightnings come or appear in one part of the heavens and are seen by persons at different points and that therefore the lightning is not confined to a local place. It is seen by those who are watching. The"statement recorded by Luke concerning the same thing supports this view: "For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day."-Luke l.tf: 24. Lightning originates with Jehovah, says Jeremiah 10: 13. Just so all light upon the divine purpose originates with Jehovah. When he reveals his light to his anointed church he does so through the Head of his organization, Christ Jesus. No human is able to make lightning. Likewise no human is able to point to the fact that Christ Jesus is at some local spot on earth. His presence is revealed to those of God's anointed remnant and their earthly companions of good will, all of whom look for the manifestation of his presence. In Matthew 24: 27, "coming'' specifically refers to his coming to the temple [in 1918] and his presence there for judgment of the "house of God", which house is composed of God's anointed and faithful ones and is not a material house of brick, wood or stone. Of the more current explanations given, the most common is based on this idea below: *** w74 12/15 p. 750 Who Will See “the Sign of the Son of Man”? *** When Christ would return in an invisible presence he would not come as a man on earth. Therefore Christians should not look for him “in the wilderness,” so that they could train with him in some out-of-the-way place for a revolution. Nor would he be in some secret “inner chambers,” where he could conspire against world governments with his followers. No, his presence was to be like lightning, not in its being instantaneous and unexpected, but in its being seen over a wide area, in the open, for everyone to behold. (Luke 17:24; compare Psalm 97:4.) His followers would not keep their knowledge of his invisible presence secret, but would give it widespread proclamation.—Matt. 10:26, 27. *** ka chap. 16 pp. 321-322 pars. 61-62 Completion of the Foretold “Sign” Nears *** 61 His presence or parousia was to resemble the lightning as to its effects. His parousia was to be like the lightning, not in flashing suddenly, unexpectedly and in the fraction of a second. The emphasis here is not on the lightning’s striking instantaneously unannounced, but on its shining over a broad area, from eastern parts to western parts. (Luke 17:24) The lightning’s illuminative power is like that described in Psalm 97:4: “His lightnings lighted up the productive land; the earth saw and came to be in severe pains.” So, too, the inhabitants of the earth were not to be left in darkness respecting the parousia of the Son of man. From horizon to horizon all the people were to be enlightened concerning his regal parousia. It was to be made as public as is a flash of lightning by its illuminative power, its far-extended shining. To Christ’s disciples today, who are acquainted with his invisible parousia, his words to his apostles nineteen centuries ago apply: 62 “Therefore do not fear them; for there is nothing covered over that will not become uncovered, and secret that will not become known. What I tell you in the darkness, say in the light; and what you hear whispered, preach from the housetops.”—Matthew 10:26, 27. So the current explanation continues to work with the idea that Jesus did NOT mention lightning because it is sudden and unexpected. Consider how likely this is when considering the further context. In a recent discussion on Matthew 24 note what someone (Gnosis Pithos) said about the very next paragraph in context: It's not impossible that the meaning of "lightning" here refers to the fact that lightning isn't just in one place, but it shines over extended areas. But it's also impossible to avoid the idea of suddenness and surprise in several places throughout the chapter. And it's also impossible to avoid the fact that Jesus had just spoken about those who claimed that Jesus had returned, but that you just couldn't see him. They would say he had returned, but that he wasn't visible at the moment because he was far off somewhere else, or hidden in a room somewhere. Our current Watchtower explanation is that the "illumination" is given to those with spiritual insight who can then spread the word of his invisible parousia over a wide area. But the previous verses were about claims by those without spiritual insight, and this was the answer to their claims. In other words, the answer to the claim that Jesus might have returned but that he was just not visible was that Jesus parousia would be as visible as lightning. Claims of an invisible presence were therefore going to be false. It would also be bright and sudden and unmistakable as lightning. It would be like the kind of lightning that is visible from one horizon all the way to the other. How likely would it be that Jesus was saying that an INVISIBLE PAROUSIA would be just like something as VISIBLE as lightning that covers the entire sky?
  3. Sure, I'll be happy to start out. By the end of this discussion we should be able to go through the whole chapter and give a kind of evaluation score to whether we think we have a more likely doctrine or a less likely doctrine. This isn't about whether the meaning we have given a certain idea is impossible, just a way of measuring if the idea is more or less likely. I'd propose that we have currently been driven to accept a LESS LIKELY definition of the word GENERATION. (Example: "the 1914 generation refers to two groups, where the first group included those whose lifespans overlapped with a second group quite possibly around a point in 1992 or even later, such that we can now add the lifespan of the oldest persons in the second group to the 1914 generation until they might die off in the near future, or perhaps much later, such that the 1914 generation can now include a reference to people born, say in the 1970's or later, living nearly until the year 2050, or even closer to the year 2100.") This has already been discussed elsewhere. I don't think the definition we give it in the latest Watchtower articles and JW Broadcasting videos is impossible, but it seems very unlikely. In my experience very few WItnesses will attempt to defend it Biblically. The ones who do make the attempt, have offered scriptures that actually make a much better fit the more common definitions of "generation." (Exodus 1:6, Genesis 50:23; etc) Without belaboring the possibility that the current understanding is somehow POSSIBLE, I think almost everyone in the world would agree that it is a LESS LIKELY definition that we are using, than any of the common definitions. (Especially since it can be found in no Bibles, no Bible dictionaries, and no dictionaries.)
  4. There seems to be be several ways to read Matthew 24 (and parallel accounts in Mark 13 and Luke 21). This has been noted by many Bible commentaries through the years, and even C. T. Russell admits some things about Matthew 24 that might surprise a lot of Witnesses today. The primary discussions about Matthew 24 revolve around the question of whether it was ONLY about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., or primarily about the final Great Tribulation on the whole earth, or was it about BOTH judgment events. (Even if this were primarily about 70 C.E., of course, it would still provide principles to guide Christians in every era and generation, especially about the expectation of the judgment event. -- 2 Tim 3:16; 1 Cor 10:11) Over the years, the Watchtower has proposed slightly different ways to read Matthew 24, including splitting it up into two and sometimes three parts, where the first part referred pretty much equally to both a "minor" fulfillment on the first-century generation and a "major" fulfillment on the "final" generation that sees the final judgment event. Then, a middle portion of the chapter was often said to be primarily for the first century without direct application to the "final" generation. Then, later parts of the chapter were said to be meant primarily or sometimes ONLY for the final judgment event on the whole world. None of the differences in these variations was very significant in the overall picture, because in general the Watchtower has seen the greater "major" important fulfillment of almost all of Matthew 24 to be tied to the final generation that sees that "parousia" or "presence." If we assume that the primarily fulfillment of Matthew 24 was intended for the final generation, then the secondary discussion is about whether we have correctly understood what Jesus meant with respect to the sign, the parousia, the conclusion, the generation, etc. So, that's the basic discussion being proposed here: that we look carefully at Matthew 24 and see if we have not perhaps tried to fit unlikely definitions of words so that we could make our specific doctrine fit. Of course, it is quite proper to look at unlikely definitions of words if the meaning derived becomes the only possible way to understand a passage and the only way in which it properly fits the context and related scriptures. But what if the more likely definitions of each of the words also produces an overall meaning that fits just as well with the context and other scripture? What if accepting the more likely definitions of words in the chapter resulted in an even BETTER fit overall for the rest of the scriptures? What if it were seen that trying to make a doctrine out of the unlikely definitions actually created scriptural contradictions? What I'd propose is that we try to let scripture explain scripture wherever possible and then try to give an honest appraisal of whether or not our "special definitions" we have infused into the meaning of several words in the chapter really makes more sense than the more common definitions of these words. We could start with general ideas that we can all agree on (hopefully) and then check those ideas as either more or less likely to fit the ideas created from other parts of the chapter that depend on special definitions. I think this will help us evaluate whether we have built a doctrine upon the more likely or the less likely meaning of the words that Jesus used.
  5. Me too. But it's still a fact that Jesus didn't say what we think he must have meant. We should expect lots of commentaries to have been written by people who also found it difficult to swallow. And as you and others (including myself) have shown, it's easy to find justification for interpolating this additional meaning of "took no note" if that's what we think we need to do. Of course the more subtle point is that even if it was provable from other places that Noah preached a specific warning message to more than just his family, and even if we could prove that this preaching activity started after he was given divine warning -- even if this is all true -- it still might be important to pay close attention to what Jesus meant by not including this point in his answer. My main point all along has been that we could be 'right as rain' about these assumptions, but we still don't want to inadvertently 'water down' Jesus' message by adding our own points to the one that Jesus was trying to emphasize here in Matthew 24. We all have our favorite little additions to make to the Bible accounts; some are likely justified and some not. This is especially true of stories in Genesis. I think we could all list a dozen examples of where we would like to add just one or two assumptions to make a Bible account easier to explain or accept. There are multiple examples in the Watchtower where the words "undoubtedly" or "it's very likely that..." or some similar words are used precisely for the purpose of proposing these additions. And sometimes the Watchtower forgets to add the words: *** w70 5/1 p. 268 par. 12 Keep Close in Mind “The Conclusion of the System of Things” *** This Christian system includes the pure worship of Jehovah, . . . and showing the fruits of God’s spirit. It means cooperating in the building up of this Christian system just as Noah’s sons helped in building the ark. That was one of about 10 examples where the word "undoubtedly" or a near equivalent was left off. There are about 20 more examples where those words were included, such as places where @Bible Speaks already quoted. Did Noah's sons help in building the ark? Probably. Does the Bible say they did? No. Neither his sons, or their wives, or even Noah's wife were included in the list of righteous people who survived the the Flood. They were never listed as persons who had faith, or preached, or were laughed at, or ridiculed, and they were not listed as people who helped build the Ark. (Genesis 6:14-7:1) 14 Make for yourself an ark from resinous wood. You will make compartments in the ark and cover it with tar inside and outside. 15 This is how you will make it: The ark should be 300 cubits. . . .[etc] 17 “As for me, I am going to bring floodwaters upon the earth to destroy from under the heavens all flesh that has the breath of life.. . . [etc.]. . . 21 For your part, you are to collect and take with you every kind of food to eat, to serve as food for you and for the animals.” 22 And Noah did according to all that God had commanded him. He did just so. 7 After that Jehovah said to Noah: “Go into the ark, you and all your household, because you [singular, not plural] are the one I have found to be righteous before me among this generation. Does this means that his sons didn't help, or didn't have faith? Of course not. So we can't say for sure either way. Your mention of Luke reminded me of something that I don't think anyone mentioned yet. It's the point that Noah's account is paralleled with Sodom where we also have no indication that there was a warning to those destroyed. Luke's account shows that Jesus not only used the account of Noah to make his point, but, unlike Matthew, also included the account about Sodom in the very next sentence. 2 Peter (which can be considered a kind of commentary on Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 17&21) also mentions Sodom in the very next sentence. (Luke 17:23-30) . . .. 24 For just as lightning flashes from one part of heaven to another part of heaven, so the Son of man will be in his day. 25 First, however, he must undergo many sufferings and be rejected by this generation. 26 Moreover, just as it occurred in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of man: 27 they were eating, they were drinking, men were marrying, women were being given in marriage until that day when Noah entered into the ark, and the Flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it occurred in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building. 29 But on the day that Lot went out of Sodʹom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 It will be the same on that day when the Son of man is revealed. Luke gives us no opportunity to translate anything close to "they took no note." Luke just says they were eating and drinking, etc., and the Flood came and destroyed them. But we could potentially read a parallel into the idea that the generation who saw Jesus in 33 CE (and prior to 70 CE) "rejected" Jesus, who gave a warning, and surmise that Noah's generation similarly "rejected" Noah after a warning. But instead of making that point, Luke also just goes straight into the account about Sodom and Lot and how they were doing the same types of everyday things, and then suddenly, one day, it rained fire and sulphur and destroyed them all. Again, we have no mention of a warning to those who would be destroyed, just as the actual account in Genesis gives us no indication that there was a warning to those people destroyed in Sodom. 2 Peter also mentions no warning. (2 Peter 2:5-9) 5 And he did not refrain from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a flood upon a world of ungodly people. 6 And by reducing the cities of Sodʹom and Go·morʹrah to ashes, he condemned them, setting a pattern for ungodly people of things to come. 7 And he rescued righteous Lot, who was greatly distressed by the brazen conduct of the lawless people— 8 for day after day that righteous man was tormenting his righteous soul over the lawless deeds that he saw and heard while dwelling among them. 9 So, then, Jehovah knows how to rescue people of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous people to be destroyed on the day of judgment, In one sense Noah is therefore preaching to us (upon whom the ends of the systems of things has arrived), but this would be a stretch to claim it's the meaning of 2 Peter 2:5. What I find even more interesting is that Luke considers it appropriate to use the words "It will be the same on that day when the Son of man is revealed" as the probable equivalent of Matthew's "so the presence [parousia] of the Son of man will be." This could be one more indication that the "parousia" is a judgment event, not a "generation" filled with warning signs, which might help us understand why Jesus answered as he did. Paul's letters and 1 Peter also use terms like manifestation and revelation in expressions that are used interchangeably with expressions that mention the parousia.
  6. The analogy to the attitude of Babylon the Great is good. It brings up the often-discussed subject of "How much preaching is enough preaching?" Naturally, that's not up to us to speculate about. We are saddened at misinformation, which seems worse, in some ways, than NO information. It seems likely that the majority of the world's population since, oh . . . let's say 1914, has either had no information or misinformation about true Christianity. Does this mean that the final Judgement Event on this system needed to wait until a certain threshold was reached? We can't say, because if we could, we would be speculating about reasons that it might still have to wait for a certain threshold of "comprehensive exposure, and notification." After all, at least half the world has evidently never been contacted by Jehovah's Witnesses, and most of what people do "know" even if they have been contacted, is wrong. So if this were the criteria, we could claim that the "end" cannot come yet, but we know that the end can come at any time, and it will come as a surprise and sudden event. While I agree with this statement and most of the statements surrounding it, we should still keep in mind that Jesus never said that the people in Noah's day "took no note." For some reason, Jesus didn't even imply it in the context of this particular reference to Noah. So this is still just an interpolation. It seems very likely as you say, but it's still possible to miss the point Jesus was making if we think it's necessary to put this extra idea into Jesus' mouth in this context. That's why I think Gnosis Pithos was so 'spot on' when he twice summarized it with the idea: Based on the comments above about the percentage of the world that has heard the specific types of warnings from Jehovah's Witnesses, I think the idea conveyed in the next quote might be problematic. I find it worded carefully enough to take it as a true statement, of course, but it implies that everyone who might be adversely affected by future judgement events will have to have a full notification by either heavenly beings or Jehovah's Witnesses themselves. I don't think there is any Biblical support of that idea, specifically, even if it might be true. I say that because it gets back to the point that if someone recognizes the fact that Witnesses have not yet exposed to their message to BILLIONS of the world's population, they might think of this as a reason to believe the end must be delayed. If we consider that BILLIONS more have a false or misinformed view of that message, this just takes away further from the point you made about "not due to any lack of notification."
  7. [I'll be adding some emphasis to points in your original post in these requotes.] Through an abundance of words, I might have given the impression that I had disagreed with the points that you are making here. (Proverbs 10:19) When words are many, transgression cannot be avoided,. . . So I wanted to reiterate that I agree 100% with everything you said in your post. As I indicated in previous posts, I agree that it is not only "conceivable" that Noah spoke about the Ark, but seems so likely that it is nearly impossible to conceive that he did not speak to others about it. Again, I agree that we should not assume that he did not discuss God's word to repent. We do not know what Noah's specific message was, nor when he preached it, therefore we cannot assume that this message was not about repentance. It appears very likely that the preaching was related to the Flood and, of course, the purpose of the Ark. Yes. This seems to be exactly the reason that 2 Peter uses the reference to Noah, and may have even been why he pointed out that Noah was a preacher of righteousness. (I don't discount the other possible meanings, too.) I couldn't agree more. This must be exactly why Jesus used the reference to Noah. I emphasized your words in red here because I think you encapsulated the meaning perfectly in a way that fits both 2 Peter and Matthew 24. Of course, I also think it's important to point out again that a natural understanding of the verse recognizes that Jesus is focusing on the suddenness and unexpectedness of the judgment event itself. Jesus disciples had just asked Jesus what they might watch out for in the days before the Judgment event that would topple Jerusalem's buildings. They wanted a warning sign in advance of this event, so they asked for a sign of the parousia. Excellent point. Absolutely true. Being surprised by something doesn't prove people were not warned, it would just tell you that they hadn't paid attention. The Ark project would have been no small matter and it's hard to see how it could have been hidden from public view. And the Bible never implies that it was hidden or secret. Any righteous person should have responded to any preaching, and even responded to the possibility that this might be a "way out" from the conditions of the day. That would make it the same way that honest-hearted persons looking for a way out of today's conditions should be searching and seeking. There is not excuse for unrightousness, today or Noah's day: (Acts 17:26-28) 26 And he made out of one man every nation of men to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he decreed the appointed times and the set limits of where men would dwell, 27 so that they would seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us. 28 For by him we have life and move and exist, even as some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also his children.’ (Romans 1:18-20) 18 For God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who are suppressing the truth in an unrighteous way, 19 because what may be known about God is clearly evident among them, for God made it clear to them. 20 For his invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable.

    I hope I'm wrong too. My information sources are down to only a couple of friends at Bethel who will talk openly about anything, and because they've worked closely with some of the same brothers for several years now, perhaps they have a jaded filter. So it's never fair to paint with a broad brush. When I ask how Brother So-and-So is doing, I get a story that starts out: "You'll never believe what he did the other day . . . " And, of course, it's always something that I can easily believe. I still happily admit that things are much, much better in the last 20 years or so. That's from both a spiritual perspective (doctrinal changes) and from a material and procedural perspective. The Society is managing hundreds more languages and millions more publishers and doing it all more smoothly and professionally with less "sweat." I"m amazed at how well it runs, and compare my own Bethel experience in the 70's and 80's as "amateur hour" compared to the skills available now. I think Jehovah's spirit permeates and overrides the human deficiencies, so that Jehovah's will gets accomplished no matter what.

    I can guess who you mean, but I don't remember reading anything like that from his first book, which I must have read at least 80% of. I never read his second book, but I have skimmed portions. Was this from one of those books, or a later interview? The reason I ask is that when you first mentioned the "free riders" I was about to respond to the following quote (see quote below) with just "Interesting theory." The reason I was so tempted to answer this flippantly is because (even if you were right) I was also pretty sure that these were the ones who rose to the very top of the food chain at Bethel, and I don't mean the "spiritual" food chain, even if that's how most of us want to see it. Those who turned their ministry skills into public speaking skills became almost totally inactive or unenthusiastic about any part in the ministry outside of "full-time bureaucratic service." In a very unofficial capacity, I visited just about every branch in Europe in 1978 and 1980. Between those same years, all the branch overseers from around the world visited Brooklyn in several sets, and we not only heard most of them speak, we also sat with them and talked to them at meals, and hosted some in our NYC congregations and even helped host meals for some in local NYC congregations. Naturally, many were just amazingly full of love and encouraging experiences. You just wanted to go back to their country with them and share the joy. But I have also never met so many cold bureaucrats who never wanted to go from door-to-door again in their life. Also, the current brothers who are named "Helpers" of the Governing Body, well, most of these were working their way up the bureaucratic and political ladders at Bethel in 1980 and the personality similarities among many of them. I shouldn't say, so I won't. Brothers that I admired at Bethel were the ones who were obviously still active in the "field" even if this seemed incongruent with their assignments at Bethel. My wife and I both loved Brother Rusk dearly, because he was a loving, fatherly type who would do anything for you, and he continued to conduct Bible studies with interested persons from the start right up to the point of baptism, without reminding them that he was also the Watchtower editor or the blood-transfusion expert. Other brothers, including several of my friends who had been on the Aid Book project, and who were the most productive at writing Watchtower articles and "Book-Study" publications, worked closely with brothers in their foreign language congregations, and juggled their work in Writing with a lot of responsibility and work at all levels in their local congregation. For years, I had respect for R.Franz for the same reason. It was well known that he had this unassuming humility that allowed him to work actively in his current Spanish congregation in much the same way he had done while in missionary work in the Dominican Republic. I'd be surprised if he didn't put in "auxiliary pioneer" hours while handling his assignments on the Governing Body and in Writing. And yet, a brother I worked for who was also on the Governing Body would NEVER go out in service until, several years after I left, he became nearly invalid and confined to a wheelchair, and then his wife started to wheel him around Brooklyn Heights with a couple of magazines pinned to him.
  10. Would you like to know the truth about Hell?

    I don't think anyone had any trouble believing that Hebrew manuscripts contained the Divine Name. This has never been doubted by anyone I have ever read. But it is interesting to see that there is already a level of superstition about the Divine Name going on in this text from Psalms that appears to have come from about 100 years before Christ. It reminds me of a preacher in a church who speaks in modern English but will only quote a scripture by using the archaic KJV English from 1611 CE. Here, we have text written in the current writing style, but every time the Divine Name shows up, it's put in a more archaic style from another 500 years further back. If you were using this text to read out loud, it could very well have served the same purpose as the later elohim/adonai vowel-pointing techniques that the Mosoretes made use of, so that no one would pronouce the name out loud. The superstition this picture indicates about the Divine Name is an indication that the name might not have been pronounced even in the first and second century BCE, and that the practice was therefore common at the time Jesus read Isaiah in the synagogue.
  11. 60 years in 8 different congregations in 3 states can offer up a few anomalies. My sister's experience was actually not so uncommon in the mid-west (Missouri) congregations I grew up in (1964-1976). But I've never personally heard of such things being covered up in the last 20 years. At the time, 1981, the elders seemed more concerned that my sister was going to tell the truth to the hospital staff, and this seemed to be their greatest fear. (Small towns revel in gossip and judgmentalism, so fears of public reproach on the congregation were very real.) The only truly "weird" disfellowshipping I ever got involved with (and on the "wrong" side, at that) was that of a 90-year old brother because his friends asked me if I could do something about it, and maybe even help to initiate an appeal. It was the kind of travesty that directly resulted in the loss of several other members of this old brother's congregation, including the couple who asked me if I could get involved. Yet, I have never directly seen a pedophile case or child abuse case in all my years and congregations. I have not seen an apostasy case since 1984. Immorality, divorce issues, smoking and other youthful indiscretions are the only types of cases I've seen in 30 years, and these have been relatively rare, only one every few years. And, of course, the joyful side of each of these has been the return to normalcy after spiritual encouragement. What I really hoped to get to in this conversation was to just go ahead and admit that I don't believe we shun properly, most of us anyway. That probably won't surprise anyone. I have no doubt at all, personally, that we overdo it, especially with family-based shunning. I think that shunning should be defined as not inviting disfellowshipped persons into congregation activities (platform teaching, audience comments, public prayer, congregation outings, etc). It has nothing to do with whether we should continue to do good things for any and all persons: enemies, friends, neighbors. We should be able to encourage them, talk to them, hire them, visit them when they are sick, etc., etc. That won't work for every single person in the congregation, especially someone who may have been wronged, but it will work for most. (I think I ignored the previous conversation on shunning.)
  12. Just noticed that if the angels who sinned were to be bound for 70 generations in Tartarus until their judgment, then this could have triggered a lot of discussion about genealogies (chronology) in the first century congregations and evidently even into Tertullian's generation, when many Christians still treated Enoch as inspired. If the check of the Bible genealogies let them see that Noah's flood had been about 2,400 years before Christ, then imagine the discussions about how long a generation would have been. We currently date the Flood to about 2,370 years before Jesus was born, which is 2,440 years before Jerusalem was destroyed in 70. (But it was possible to get dates anywhere from 2000 to 3000 BCE for the Flood.) So imagine the possible speculation if each generation was considered to be 40 years long, then 70 generations could be 2,800 years. (40x70=2,800). If they used 37 years as the length of a generation (from the time of Jesus prophecy until Jerusalem was destroyed) then the angels were to be imprisoned for 2,590 years, possibly fueling speculation of an imminent Armageddon. Even if they thought there should be an entire 1000-year millennium before the judgment of the angels then a generation of 49 to 50 years (Jubilee) would also mean that Armageddon was possibly just a few short years away. This could have been part of the reason that the Bible includes the following admonition: (Titus 3:9) But have nothing to do with foolish arguments and genealogies and disputes and fights over the Law, for they are unprofitable and futile. . . (1 Timothy 1:4) 4 nor to pay attention to false stories and to genealogies. Such things end up in nothing useful but merely give rise to speculations rather than providing anything from God in connection with faith. (2 Peter 3:8) However, do not let this escape your notice, beloved ones, that one day is with Jehovah as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.
  13. Enoch had already been brought up into this context before Eoin mentioned him, and the prior implication had been that Enoch had provided a warning about a pending judgment due to unrighteousness. No one had specifically tied this warning to the Flood, however. I thought that these facts from the Bible might have a bearing on whether this could qualify as a "flood warning." It was just an opening to the discussion if someone wanted to follow up. I don't personally see it as a flood warning, but this was just some info to see if others might have already considered it in their own conclusions. I agree that Jude uses the quotation from the Book of Enoch (or at least the equivalent quotation from another source) without specifying the time frame. What you call the "past tense" here is just the common way of translating the Greek aorist and second aorist tenses. In fact, note the following about the Aorist tense from
      Hello guest!
    AORIST TENSE: This tense is characterized by its emphasis on precise accordance with details, WITHOUT consideration for past, present or future time. THERE IS NO CLEAR EQUIVALENT FOR THIS TENSE IN ENGLISH! The Ethiopic version of Enoch says: Behold, he comes with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon them, and destroy the wicked, and reprove all the carnal for everything which the sinful and ungodly have done, and committed against him. If Jude could be shown to have purposefully moved the tense from present to past, then this could have become evidence that Jude recognized a previous fulfillment of the judgment event. But we don't have enough information, and the context of Jude appears to move the meaning to a still near-future judgement day, especially since he added nothing to the context to force the aorist tense into a past tense equivalent. (Therefore, it need not have been translated as past tense in any modern language, anyway.) It's just as accurate to translate Jude 14,15 the way the NKJV translates: “. . . Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” On the side of tying Enoch's prophesies to Noah, David Guzik's Bible commentary quotes Trapp as saying: “Tertullian tells us that the book of Enoch’s prophecies were preserved by Noah in the ark, and that they continued and were read until the times of the apostles. But because they contained many famous testimonies concerning Jesus Christ, the Jews out of malice suppressed and abolished the whole book.” (Trapp) Also, even if possibly anachronistic, the book of Enoch also discusses the Nephilim and pre-flood conditions with the idea of prophetic warning in some of the contexts. I don't treat the Book of Enoch as inspired, but here is an example from Chapter 10: (
      Hello guest!
    ) The language of Genesis 6-8 is alluded to several times, and also the abyss of Tartarus for the angels who sinned (2 Peter), and some ideas also found in Isaiah and Revelation and elsewhere. 1. Then said the Most High, the Holy and Great One spake, and sent Uriel to the son of Lamech, and said to him: 2. '〈Go to Noah〉 and tell him in my name "Hide thyself!" and reveal to him the end that is approaching: that the whole earth will be destroyed, and a deluge is about to come upon the whole earth, and will destroy all that is on it. 3. And now instruct him that he may escape and his seed may be preserved for all the generations of the world.' . . . And heal the earth which the angels have corrupted, and proclaim the healing of the earth, that they may heal the plague, and that all the children of men may not perish through all the secret things that the Watchers have disclosed and have taught their sons. 8. And the whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azâzêl: to him ascribe all sin.' . . . 11. And the Lord said unto Michael: 'Go, bind Semjâzâ and his associates who have united themselves with women so as to have defiled themselves with them in all their uncleanness. 12. And when their sons have slain one another, and they have seen the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of their judgement and of their consummation, till the judgement that is for ever and ever is consummated. 13. In those days they shall be led off to the abyss of fire: 〈and〉 to the torment and the prison in which they shall be confined for ever. And whosoever shall be condemned and destroyed will from thenceforth be bound together with them to the end of all generations. 15. And destroy all the spirits of the reprobate and the children of the Watchers, because they have wronged mankind. Destroy all wrong from the face of the earth and let every evil work come to an end: and let the plant of righteousness and truth appear: . . . 18 And then shall the whole earth be tilled in righteousness, and shall all be planted with trees and be full of blessing. 19. And all desirable trees shall be planted on it, and they shall plant vines on it: and the vine which they plant thereon shall yield wine in abundance, and as for all the seed which is sown thereon each measure (of it) shall bear a thousand, and each measure of olives shall yield ten presses of oil. 20. And cleanse thou the earth from all oppression, and from all unrighteousness, and from all sin, and from all godlessness: and all the uncleanness that is wrought upon the earth destroy from off the earth. 21. ⌈And all the children of men shall become righteous⌉, and all nations shall offer adoration and shall praise Me, and all shall worship Me. And the earth shall be cleansed from all defilement, and from all sin, and from all punishment, and from all torment, and I will never again send (them) upon it from generation to generation and for ever.
  14. Would you like to know the truth about Hell?

  15. Would you like to know the truth about Hell?

    There were no Dead Sea Scrolls in any of the fragments you showed.
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