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JW Insider

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  1. Wow! Is there something holding you back from saying what's really on your mind? My father and grandfather attended KM school in Pittsburgh back in the early 70's about a year apart from each other. So I would often hear them compare notes as to what Bro. Schroeder had said on a topic. Schroeder was still of the "Rutherford" school when it came to how the entire world was "inspired" of Satan, which influenced his speech about who would die at Armageddon and why we don't celebrate Christmas, Easter, etc. As part of their training, Brother Schroeder would give them questions that the "Press" might ask them, so elders could practice answers that were "cautious as serpents yet innocent as doves" so to speak. For example: Question: Do you think the Pope will be destroyed at Armageddon? This gets lots of snickers, and a few brothers willing to say, 'Of course he will be destroyed!.' So Brother Schroeder says that, well, we all know the answer, but what do we tell the Press? He recommended saying: Answer: "He'll get what he deserves!" This gets uproarious laughter, and must have been treated as if Jesus had just said "Pay back Caesar's things to Caesar." It becomes kind of a joke between my father and grandfather, so that they only needed to say: "He'll get what he deserves!" when hearing about other infamous happenings in the world (e.g., Watergate, Nixon Impeachment, US Supreme Court on Roe v. Wade, Spiro Agnew). I don't know whether Schroeder himself mentioned people with Christmas trees, but I remember being a bit taken aback that my father and grandfather even applied it for a while to people with Christmas trees, people singing Christmas carols on TV, etc., even though they started to say it in a kind of joking way, knowing that the phrase was getting old. When you mentioned that the Society knew that Christmas was wrong before 1900 but kept celebrating until the late 1920's it reminded me of this. Imagine if Armageddon had actually come in 1915, or 1918, or 1925, as they sometimes expected. In effect, my father and grandfather were saying that Rutherford and all the people in the entire Watch Tower Society would have been destroyed. I can imagine how we, as an organization, would have felt if we knew that certain people or groups who had already stopped celebrating Christmas were looking at the Watch Tower Society at the time and saying "They'll get what they deserve at Armageddon." When it comes to all this judgmental speech, here in this forum, I try to remember to test it by thinking what we would say if we were guests in a Mormon forum, or a Catholic forum. Would you, for example, go into a Mormon-centric forum right now and say that 15 million Mormons (LDS) are all inspired by Satan. (And yes they have had trouble with child sexual abuse and cover-ups.) And because a high percentage of Catholics support the Pope, would you go into a Catholic-centric forum and say that 1 billion Catholics are inspired by Satan. To me, it seems a bit over the top, even though you could probably find a near equivalent problem in the Mormon Church or the Catholic Church for every problem you see among Jehovah's Witnesses. I'm not one to tell you to stop saying whatever you want to say, as you probably feel like a good part of your life was wasted among Jehovah's Witnesses, and I'm sure this drives a lot of the "tone." I am reminded of the "tone" that Rutherford took against the clergy, especially the Catholic hierarchy, and he could rationalize that he was protecting the world from Catholicism -- just as you probably think you are trying to protect the world from Jehovah's Witnesses, or at least to protect a few other Jehovah's Witnesses from themselves.
  2. I'd guess you're right. Based on current rates, the peak publishers number should reach 9 million in 2021 and the average publishers should reach 9 million in 2022.
  3. Small world. I didn't get back into NYC until 2 days after it happened. I called a friend who works in the building who said that it wasn't really a big deal to evacuate. They felt the shaking in the building so they knew it was a real event, not just a drill. I asked him if it reminded him of 9/11 and he said he really didn't think about that. He was still in college then, and didn't start work until 2005 or so. Reminds me: I live in the NYC area, and remember that back in 2001, just after 9/11, we "restacked" employees in two of our midtown buildings in order to open up entire floors for people that needed to relocate from WTC. While waiting for a commuter train just three weeks later outside the city, I remember a chilling conversation that happened immediately in front of me, before the train stopped and opened its doors. The woman was wearing extraordinarily high heels: Man: You're back at work already? Woman: Yep! Still got the same bills. Man: You weren't wearing those shoes when it happened were you? Woman: Are you kidding? If I had been wearing these I never would have made it out in time. [laughing]
  4. Of course, just to get back to the topic, I should add that, in that last entry, Paul goes on to use this unreasonableness to defend himself against "the most esteemed apostles" (2 Cor 11:5). Again, I don't think these apostles are meant to directly equate to the "highly regarded" apostles in Jerusalem. But we do know that they included more than just the "false" apostles because Paul admits that they were "ministers of Christ" something he would not say about those who were continuing as false apostles. (2 Corinthians 11:21-12:12) . . .But if others act boldly—I am talking unreasonably—I too act boldly. 22 Are they Hebrews? I am one also. Are they Israelites? I am one also. Are they Abraham’s offspring? I am also. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? I reply like a madman, I am more outstandingly one: I have done more work, been imprisoned more often, suffered countless beatings, and experienced many near-deaths. . . . 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, the One who is to be praised forever, knows I am not lying. . . .1 I have to boast. It is not beneficial, but I will move on to supernatural visions and revelations of the Lord. . . . But I refrain from doing so, in order that no one should give me more credit than what he sees in me or hears from me, 7 just because of receiving such extraordinary revelations. . . . 11 I have become unreasonable. You compelled me to, for I ought to have been recommended by you. For I did not prove to be inferior to your superfine [the most esteemed?] apostles in a single thing, even if I am nothing. 12 Indeed, the signs of an apostle were produced among you with great endurance, and by signs and wonders and powerful works. Note, too, that Paul has referred in context also to false apostles, not the Twelve apostles, as those presenting another sort of good news. But if the Corinthians are accepting such men as true apostles, then surely they should also accept Paul as an apostle. Paul feels that only his humility and unassuming demeanor has contributed to others seeing him as weak, and being able to subvert the good news, and for others to consider him as less than these other esteemed apostles. But Paul's response identifies them as those who are using both their Jewish background and the fact that they are also ministers of Christ, and apparently those who were also associated with signs and wonders and powerful works. Again, I don't want to imply that Paul thought of any of the Twelve as "false" apostles, but that Paul was against the supposed authority that false apostles were claiming in the name of Peter or James for example. James and Peter should have known better than to have ever sided with the "false brothers" from Judea. It was evidently due to the fact that these reputable men in Jerusalem had made mistakes that Paul pointed out that Peter stood CONDEMNED for going along with this kind of HYPOCRISY. We also know that Paul and Barnabas broke up after the Acts 15 meeting, and it, of course, was primarily over taking John Mark with them. But remember too that this was just after Barnabas himself had joined Peter in the hypocrisy. (Might also be of interest that John Mark is traditionally defined as the person associated with Peter as his writer and thus produced the gospel of Mark.) Edited to add: But more to the point in Corinthians, Paul appears to admit that those who are tearing them down (from the upbuilding gospel Paul gave) are doing so out of their apparent "authority" and prominence in terms of being well-known. And having known Jesus in the flesh. (2 Corinthians 10:8) 8 For even if I should boast a bit too much about the authority that the Lord gave us to build you up and not to tear you down,. . . (2 Corinthians 5) 11 Therefore, since we know the fear of the Lord, we keep persuading men, but we are well-known to God. However, I hope that we are well-known also to your consciences. . . . 16 So from now on we know no man from a fleshly viewpoint. Even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, we certainly no longer know him in that way. (2 Corinthians 10:12) . . .For we do not dare to class ourselves or compare ourselves with some who recommend themselves. . . . (2 Corinthians 10:14, 15) . . .for we were the first to reach as far as you with the good news about the Christ. 15 No, we are not boasting outside our assigned boundaries about the labors of someone else, but we hope that as your faith continues to increase, what we have done may be made to increase, within our territory.. . . Could these latter verses mean that Paul understood Jewish territory (Peter's territory, Galatians 2:8) to be the circumcised in Corinth? Could Paul (who called them ministers of Christ) be recognizing the success of turning so many Jews to Christianity in that area? If so, Paul is not going to take credit for those increases (which could be from which those persons come, who say they belong to Peter, or perhaps even Apollos. 1 Cor. 1:12) Paul got there first, before men from Peter (or perhaps Peter himself) got there, but he doesn't encroach on their boundary. Another point is that Paul might, in places, compare his own apostleship to others as superior because he was not chosen by Jesus in the flesh, as some other apostles were, but by the glorious, risen, Lord Jesus through a revelation. (Gal 1:1,12) There seem to be similar points made about Paul's revelations and visions in 1 and 2 Corinthians, too.
  5. It might be useful to note that, from a more practical perspective, Paul is warning the Galatians about listening to anyone who is telling them something different from the good news that Paul preached to them. In effect, don't listen to anyone but the apostle Paul. His reasoning is that he, Paul, is the one who got this "good news from Christ, and not from any humans. So indirectly, yes, Paul is warning them about listening to anyone but Jesus and Jehovah, but he sets himself up as a more reliable source of what Jesus and Jehovah are telling them. And he clearly implies that he is a more reliable source than some of what's been coming out of Jerusalem. Using Peter as an example, only drove home the point about why Paul was the person they should listen to -- and not Jerusalem. Galatians 1:9 KJV As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. That's rarely the use of "seemed" (Gk, dokeo). δοκέω , -ῶ; imperfect ἐδόκουν; 1 aorist ἔδοξα; (akin to δέχομαι or δέκομαι, whence δόκος an assumption, opinion [cf. Latin decus, decet, dignus; Curtius § 15; cf. his Das Verbum, i., pp. 376, 382]); [from Homer down];1. to be of opinion, think, suppose: . . . 2. intransitive, to seem, be accounted, reputed: . . . Not to belabor too much but the subject of Galatians 2:6 includes James and Peter, as we already know. Even without the context, this word means "apparently but not necessarily" or phrases to that effect. But just to be doubly clear, Paul includes the context to show why it was not necessarily true that they were in fact pillars. (Galatians 2:1-9) . . .. 2 I went [to Jerusalem] up as a result of a revelation, and I presented to them the good news that I am preaching among the nations. This was done privately, however, before the men who were highly regarded, to make sure that I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 Nevertheless, not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, although he was a Greek. 4 But that matter came up because of the false brothers brought in quietly, who slipped in to spy on the freedom we enjoy in union with Christ Jesus, so that they might completely enslave us; 5 we did not yield in submission to them, no, not for a moment, so that the truth of the good news might continue with you. 6 But regarding those who seemed to be important—whatever they were makes no difference to me, for God does not go by a man’s outward appearance—those highly regarded men imparted nothing new to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the good news for those who are uncircumcised, just as Peter had been for those who are circumcised— 8 for the one who empowered Peter for an apostleship to those who are circumcised also empowered me for those who are of the nations— 9 and when they recognized the undeserved kindness that was given me, James and Ceʹphas and John, the ones who seemed to be pillars, gave Barʹna·bas and me the right hand of fellowship, so that we should go to the nations but they to those who are circumcised. The easiest reading of the above treats the gray portion (verse 4 and 5) as a parenthetical about those who were false brothers, who slipped in to spy, and to whom Paul and his companions did not yield. Paul makes it clear he has gone back to speaking about Peter, James, John (and company) in verse 6. And just in case we didn't see that, he specifically names them in verse 9. Paul also used the word "seemed" up in verse 2 (Gal 2:2) where it says "the men who were highly regarded." They were definitely highly regarded, but why use the word for "seemed" (dokeo)? It means that the verse could also be properly translated: (NLT) While I was there I met privately with those considered to be leaders of the church . . . (NIV) meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, (ESV) though privately before those who seemed influential It's actually very easy to say (in Greek) that someone is a pillar, or is influential, or is highly regarded. One doesn't have use dokeo, which more often than not, has a negative connotation. This doesn't mean that dokeo ALWAYS implies a negative connotation. But to avoid ambiguity, a Greek writer could simply add the "contrary" phrase, like Paul did when he added: "but these men imparted nothing new" or "whatever they were makes no difference to me" or "God does not go by a man's outward appearance." In fact here are other ways that Paul used the term, including the ONLY other time he used it in Galatians: (Galatians 6:2, 3) . . .. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deceiving himself. (NWT) And here are the majority of Paul's uses in letters to the Corinthians, which I believe give a similar form: (1 Corinthians 3:18) . . .Let no one deceive himself: If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this system of things, . . . (1 Corinthians 8:2) 2 If anyone thinks he knows something, he does not yet know it as he should know it. (1 Corinthians 10:12) 12 So let the one who thinks he is standing beware that he does not fall. (1 Corinthians 12:22) . . .On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are necessary, (1 Corinthians 14:37) 37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or is gifted with the spirit, he must acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are the Lord’s commandment. (2 Corinthians 10:9) . . .For I do not want to seem as though I were trying to terrify you by my letters. (2 Corinthians 11:16) . . .I say again: Let no one think I am unreasonable. But even if you do, then accept me as an unreasonable person, so that I too may boast a little.
  6. I get it. To be born again, you first have to dye. Of course, being born again is being born (one time) PLUS being born (a second time), or "BORN + BORN," not to be born SQUARED, which is "BORN x BORN." Then again, I think Jesus said the sons of darkness are better at math than the sons of light. Or something like that.
  7. As an "aside," I also want to comment on the prominence of James, himself. For years I just assumed that the prominence of James was somewhat by accident, due to a rotation of the chairman of the Governing Body, and basing this idea on the article that introduced the modern Governing Body in 1971: *** w71 12/15 p. 759 A Governing Body as Different from a Legal Corporation *** Apparently, the apostle Peter was the chairman of the governing body on the festival day of Pentecost of 33 C.E., and the disciple James, the half brother of Jesus Christ, was the chairman at a later date, according to the account in Acts of Apostles. From this, and from what historical evidence there is available, the chairmanship of the governing body rotated, just the same as the chairmanship of the presbytery or “body of elders” of each Christian congregation rotated among the coequal elders.—1 Tim. 4:14. What I hadn't realized at the time was that the term "what historical evidence there is available" was nothing at all, so that the rotation evidence sentence could have said "From this, and no other evidence at all, the chairmanship of the governing body rotated." And of course, the referenced scripture, 1 Tim 4:14, says nothing about a chairmanship of the "body of elders" rotating, either. (1 Timothy 4:14) 14 Do not neglect the gift in you that was given you through a prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. So we should look again at when the prominence of James first shows up: It's true that he seems to have the last word in the Acts 15 scenario: (Acts 15:6-22) 6 So the apostles and the elders gathered together to look into this matter. 7 After much intense discussion had taken place, Peter rose and. . . .13 After they finished speaking, James replied: . . . . It isn't definitive that he was head of a rotating chairmanship, but it's still true that Peter and James are mentioned here as speaking in leadership capacities. Also, earlier, when Peter gets out of prison his first statement is: (Acts 12:17) 17 But he motioned to them with his hand to be silent and told them in detail how Jehovah had brought him out of the prison, and he said: “Report these things to James and the brothers.” . . . And a statement Paul makes about the order of Jesus' appearances after his resurrected, and another statement that shows that persons were just as interested in James and his brothers as the 12 apostles, so that they were so often mentioned together. (1 Corinthians 15:5-7) .5 and that he appeared to Ceʹphas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that he appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still with us, though some have fallen asleep in death. 7 After that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. (1 Corinthians 9:5) 5 We have the right to be accompanied by a believing wife, as the rest of the apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Ceʹphas, do we not? Years after Acts 15, Paul comes back to Jerusalem, and the first named person he meets with is James, and a group of elders, this time to discuss nearly the same issue relative to Jewish Christian believers, not Gentile Christian believers as had been discussed previously. (Acts 21:17-19) 17 When we got to Jerusalem, the brothers welcomed us gladly. 18 But on the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 And he greeted them and began giving a detailed account of the things God did among the nations through his ministry. So based on the evidence, it's probable that there never was a rotation system, and James continued to hold a very prominent, perhaps the most prominent leadership role in the Jerusalem congregation: the COBE, possibly from prior to Acts 12 all the way up to Acts 21 and beyond. Also, as the Bearing Witness books notes, neither Peter nor any of the other apostles are mentioned in Acts 21, so that it is ONLY James and the elders. The book assumes that the apostles might no longer be in Jerusalem. I don't know how this might affect the original "governing body" in Jerusalem theory.
  8. I'm pretty sure that everything you said in this post was true. But with some caveats that I'd like to highlight. If we take Acts 15 as fully parallel to Galatians 2, as you and Outta Here have done, then I agree that we should not consider the apostles and older men of Jerusalem to be "Judaizers." In Acts, Peter and James are fully credited with doing things correctly, and all blame is placed on the sect of the Pharisees and believers like them. Evidently, in my opinion, this sect of the Pharisees, or similar Judeans pushing circumcision, were seen (by the Galatians at least) as getting their authority from men like Peter, James and John. Therefore Paul warns them, in my opinion, that even if it were Peter, James and John, or even an angel, that they should not submit. But Paul never says it wasn't them giving authority to the Judaizers. He never exonerates Peter, James and John. He even goes so far as never to actually call them "pillars" but couches their authority in language like "seemed to be pillars" and that it wouldn't matter who they were anyway, because they are just men, and Paul isn't trying to please men. Of course, in other places, and here, too, Paul also goes into a discussion of where his own authority comes from and why no one could say that any of Paul's authority came from Jerusalem. As in at least two other places, Paul sees fit in this context to compare his own authority, with that of the apostles in Jerusalem. It seems that if Paul were trying to exonerate Peter, James and John, (as Acts 15 does) then he would not be expected to add so many phrases that diminish their authority, and he would have no reason to highlight his independence from Jerusalem. He surely could have exonerated them by mentioning the decree that they had agreed to. If Paul had still considered this decree authoritative, it was the perfect answer to the Galatians who thought that James and Peter were on the side of circumcision, and the whole problem with the Galatians would be over. On another note, Paul doesn't even mention the "decree" in any of his letters. The closest he gets to discussing the decree is in 1 Corinthians 8, where he appears to contradict what it said about eating food sacrificed to idols. However, I now believe I was mistaken in trying to tie this Judaizing so directly to Peter and John. And @Outta Here has me thinking it might not apply to James either. Not that they ever were ACTIVE Judaizers, but I thought Paul was including Peter's example, because Peter had publicly sided with the Judaizers even though admittedly temporarily. This had put a stamp of authority on the Judaizers which allowed Paul's audience to believe that those apostles with authority over Paul actually had the last word on circumcision. Judaizers were spoken of as being smuggled in, rather than just coming of their own accord. And Paul said that these men were "from James" implying that James, another man of great reputation and authority among the apostles at Jerusalem, had given a stamp of authority to the Judaizers. I'm not yet convinced, as Outta Here seems to be, that saying that a group of Judaizers came from James, is really about the same as saying that a group of Judaizers came from Judea. If he had said, "from John" would that also just mean "from Judea"? I'm sure that Paul is at least saying that James knew their beliefs and that he had sent them, purposely, perhaps not to engage with Paul to subvert him, but to listen carefully to what he was saying to gentile converts about the Mosaic Law. James would therefore be admitting tacitly that he expected a potential problem would need to be resolved and the people he sent would have been most sensitive to what Paul was teaching. I also don't know if we can say that they worked things out so "amicably" but things did finally work out over time. I mention this for the same reason I mentioned a transition period that is indicated in Acts between chapters 15 and Acts 21. In fact, I think if we look closely at Acts, that it's easy to see that Luke's goal was to leave out a lot of detail when it detracted from the minimum that a Christian needed to know about the past. I'll get to that later, and the rest of this post will just be a background for later reference before talking about the way Luke/Acts selects details. I once tried to reconstruct the timeline of Acts from the chronology markers, to match it up with Galatians and others of Paul's letters, and this is much easier to do now with the Internet (and the Bearing Witness book), and so many online reference works available. It might seem like a waste of time, but it might give also us some insight into the types of things Luke includes in Acts and what he leaves out. That might not seem important now, but for me, it was a key part of my overall opinion (which could be partially or completely wrong, of course) along with a comparison between Acts, Galatians and the letters to the Corinthians. Here we can also compare Acts 21:20-26 to Acts 15: (Acts 21:20-26) . . .After hearing this, they began to glorify God, but they said to him: “You see, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, and they are all zealous for the Law. 21 But they have heard it rumored about you that you have been teaching all the Jews among the nations an apostasy from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or to follow the customary practices. 22 What, then, is to be done about it? They are certainly going to hear that you have arrived. 23 So do what we tell you: We have four men who have put themselves under a vow. 24 Take these men with you and cleanse yourself ceremonially together with them and take care of their expenses, so that they may have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know that there is nothing to the rumors they were told about you, but that you are walking orderly and you are also keeping the Law. . . . 26 Then Paul took the men the next day and cleansed himself ceremonially along with them, and he went into the temple to give notice of when the days for the ceremonial cleansing would be completed and the offering should be presented for each one of them. By this time, Paul had been teaching that Jewish persons need not follow the customary Jewish practices. And by this time, Paul had already been saying that if anyone gets circumcised, then they are under obligation to keep the entire Law. Undeserved kindness+faith was being contrasted with works of Law as the "path to salvation," but by the time Ephesians was written, undeserved kindness+faith was apparently being contrasted with good works of any kind as a path to salvation. Paul had already been teaching about circumcision and extending it to mean any type of putting oneself under law, just as trying to gain salvation by works had extended past works of Law to any good works. Ephesians 2:8-17. Note that these verses were written to uncircumcised believers, but with an obvious application to circumcised Jewish believers, too: (Colossians 2:13, 14) . . .He kindly forgave us all our trespasses 14 and erased the handwritten document that consisted of decrees and was in opposition to us. He has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the torture stake. (Galatians 5:2-6) . . .See! I, Paul, am telling you that if you become circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 Again I bear witness to every man who gets circumcised that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 4 You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be declared righteous by means of law; you have fallen away from his undeserved kindness. 5 For our part, we are by spirit eagerly waiting for the hoped-for righteousness resulting from faith. 6 For in union with Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any value, but faith operating through love is. (Romans 2:28, 29) . . .For he is not a Jew who is one on the outside, nor is circumcision something on the outside, on the flesh. 29 But he is a Jew who is one on the inside, and his circumcision is that of the heart by spirit and not by a written code. That person’s praise comes from God, not from people. The bt book mentions these same scriptures and notes that this case in Acts 21 depicts Paul becoming a Jew to those who are Jews to hopefully win them over. (1 Corinthians 9:20) 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew in order to gain Jews; to those under law I became as under law, though I myself am not under law, in order to gain those under law. So far none of this is a problem to understanding it the way you (Anna) have presented it.
  9. I liked Thayer's glossary definitions included in the post linked below. But to avoid diverting people off to another topic, I'll just repost that definition: But it's not a terrible translation, as it really was used in Greek with reference to "brazen hussies." (shameless hussies, and wanton hussies - and brazen hustlers, too, for that matter.) Literally, it meant people who were not so moral as those good folks up in the town of Selge, Pisidia, Asia Minor. It's much better than the old translation in the NWT (loose conduct) which was actually a mistranslation because it implied lesser moral infractions of a more general variety. Note Thayer's: ἀσέλγεια, -ας, ἡ, the conduct and character of one who is ἀσελγής (a word which some suppose to be compounded of the α privative and Σέλγη, the name of a city in Pisidia whose citizens excelled in strictness of morals [so Etym. Magn. 152, 38; per contra cf. Suidas 603 d.]: others of α intensive and σαλαγεῖν, to disturb, raise a din; others, and now the majority, of α privative and σέλγω equivalent to θέλγω, not affecting pleasantly, exciting disgust), unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence:Mark 7:22 (where it is uncertain what particular vice is spoken of); of gluttony and venery, Jude 1:4; plural, 1 Peter 4:3; 2 Peter 2:2 (for Rec. ἀπωλείαις), 2 Peter 2:18; of carnality, lasciviousness: 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 4:19; 2 Peter 2:7; plural "wanton (acts or) manners, as filthy words, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males and females, etc." (Fritzsche), Romans 13:13. (In Biblical Greek besides only in Wis. 14:26 and 3 Macc. 2:26. Among Greek writings used by Plato, Isocrates and following; at length by Plutarch [Lucull. 38] and Lucian [dial. meretr. 6] of the wantonness of women [Lob. ad Phryn., p. 184 n.].) Cf. Tittmann i., p. 151f; [especially Trench, § xvi.].
  10. Yes. Of course. Moses had a hierarchy. The Watchtower has admitted that the organization can be thought of in this way.
  11. I don't really know any of them. I know how the position got there, and I know what doctrines and practices they promote. It's because I accept most of those doctrines. 100 percent of the important ones, in my opinion. I don't think of them as a "governing body" except in a functional sense as decision makers who try to keep the teachings as consistent as possible for the sake of unity around the world. This is a positive thing about Jehovah's Witnesses that a consistent set of teachings can be accepted by millions of persons without disorder or contentiousness. The method used produces a danger of making it too easy to accept (and "enforce") false doctrines in the same way, but there are very few "false doctrines" in my opinion. If, in your opinion, there are many false doctrines, or if the specific ones you believe are false are that important to you, then I understand why your judgment of them would be different than mine. Yes. I think they are making a mistake in this regard too. But, in general, only a very small minority of those claiming to be anointed seem to think things should be different. I'd wager that the vast majority of them believe they are being well represented by them. Also the GB do not necessarily think of this position as "over" the rest of the anointed. Remember that the service they provide is a ministry of a "slave." One of the ministries that Paul spoke of was the ability to "administer." A portion of the idea that this puts them "above" the rest may spring from the mind of fleshly persons who cannot distinguish a specialized service from being special. However, the idea that they form some kind of tribunal that should judge other anointed, or that others should be obedient to is probably wrong, imo. It might, in fact, spring from the fleshly, unspiritual understanding from their own minds. This doesn't reduce the value of the kind of work they can accomplish in such a unique circumstance, but it is one of the dangers that could befall any of us imperfect humans. (1 Corinthians 10:12) . . .So let the one who thinks he is standing beware that he does not fall. You may have pointed out a danger, or it could be that less educated are more humble and more receptive to spiritual truth. Therefore a decision has been made to focus the efforts on an audience that should have been focused on even more in the past. A simplified Bible, with simplified publications to go with it, and a simpler study method might all be good things, even from the perspective of Luke 14:11. Personally, however, I agree that it has been like a pendulum swing to a slightly "simpler" audience after saturating a more sophisticated audience until further efforts on that latter audience appeared wasted. Many current Witnesses have the idea that this is a kind of "dumbing down" of the audience resulting in a dumbing down of the new ones coming in. If persons are overly concerned about that, perhaps it is based on their own prejudices or an unrequited desire to show off just how sophisticated their own knowledge might be. In our congregational setting, the goal is love for one another. This should be even easier if all of us show more childlike love for one another, and can stop taking ourselves so seriously. I think deliberate is a strong word to use with "err." For the most part, I think all the mistakes have been well-meaning. There are some mistakes that reveal a different kind of mental conflict, in my opinion. These can be looked at as deliberate mistakes. Sometimes it can include a deliberate choice to avoid a change when it seems a change is necessary both Biblically and practically. Sometimes it can be from a lack of courage or self-confidence. Similar to Peter and the "James gang" the organization has had a historical problem with cultishness. This is admitted in our own publications that there was a Russell cult. Fred Franz was steeped in that exact kind of cult thinking (parallel dispensations, numerology, date predictions, etc.) so that this mentality remained strong and respected until Fred Franz died. He had so much respect as an "oracle" that all these "class" definitions and prophetic explanations were never challenged much until a few years after he died. So some mistakes are more about deliberate hanging on to tradition, which blinds people to the validity of God's word. This kind of blindness is wrong, but not necessarily "deliberate." Why would 12 be too many? 8 is about the same. 20 is about the same. Considering the new abilities of technology and the much greater size of the current congregations of JWs compared to the first century congregations, perhaps 1,000 would not be too many, or perhaps there is a way to allow millions to have input, and merely allow a secretary or a technology application "bot" to filter out the noise and produce a consensus. I don't think we'd be quite as comfortable with that. Humans tend to like hierarchies of people, representative government, etc., in spite of the potential errors. Some do. I'm sure of it. But my point was that a hierarchy of people are in place to filter out and merge communications so that the GB aren't bothered by any and every little thing that comes up. Notice that in a response to something Outta Here said I quoted: (1 Corinthians 1:11, 12) 11 For some from the house of Chloʹe have informed me regarding you, my brothers, that there are dissensions among you. Paul had no problem "snitching" about where the information came from, and noted they had been able to get their issue to Paul directly, and Paul addressed the issue in his letter. There is a lot of secrecy in these communications today that I think is unnecessary. And there are stories of repercussions by those who used their own name. Well, I'll stop here.
  12. I agree 100 percent with everything you said up to this point, and then, of course, I paused a bit at this statement. I expect that it should apply to me as well as others. This was a powerful bit of counsel, and I'm re-evaluating my own position on what Paul is saying in Galatians and the letters to the Corinthians. The details of that re-evaluation will be based on the specifics in Anna's posts, which I'll get to as time permits. I'd like to respond to this, but it's probably too soon, as I might end up taking back my current understanding. In that event, I apologize in advance, to any who were (or would be) unduly influenced by my own opinions and understandings. Of course, I would still like to say a little about what I think you are saying here. I don't think Paul had disdain for those taking the lead. He had a disdain, or worse (condemnation and "curses") for anyone who interfered with persons who had accepted the "good news." (Matthew 18:5-6, Jesus expressed a "millstone curse" for the same reason.) But this was not a general or continued "disdain" that held a grudge or couldn't forgive when he looked at the overall picture. I assume that Paul did not continue to consider Peter or James as stumbling blocks to the ministry after things began cleared up during the transitional time between Acts 15 and Acts 21. (Jesus didn't permanently call Peter, Satan, when he was a stumbling block.) I assume Paul is speaking to the Galatians this way, because the Acts 15 meeting had already happened and yet the Galatians evidently still BELIEVE (for some reason) that there was authority (from somewhere) for demanding adherence to Jewish law that somehow overrode the message that Paul had already taught them. Paul gives the Galatians an earlier example of this same problem on the same issue (where circumcision was the central issue, but by extension it must have also meant adherence to Jewish law and practice. See Galatians 5:2,3). In this earlier example the problem was focused, he says, on certain men from James, who caused Peter be afraid of the circumcised class, and who influenced Peter and Barnabas, so that Paul called them out on their hypocrisy. Paul told Peter face to face that he "stood condemned." (see NWT footnote or Greek Interlinear.) This appears to follow up on Paul's earlier words that anyone who declares as good news something beyond which they had accepted should stand "accursed." (Galatians 2:11, 12) 11 However, when Ceʹphas came to Antioch, I resisted him face-to-face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men from James arrived, he used to eat with people of the nations; but when they arrived, he stopped doing this and separated himself, fearing those of the circumcised class. (NWT, with footnotes inserted in red.) (1 Corinthians 16:22) 22 If anyone has no affection for the Lord, let him be accursed.. . . (Galatians 1:8, 9) . . .However, even if we or an angel out of heaven were to declare to you as good news something beyond the good news we declared to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, I now say again, Whoever is declaring to you as good news something beyond what you accepted, let him be accursed. But this, as I said, was not a general disdain for those taking the lead. It was a temporary critique of a problem initiated either by James, if he gave them instructions, or by these certain men from James on their own. Still, it was not a simple matter that Peter was just more comfortable around his own people, and his old habits. Paul says Peter was afraid of these men from James (who were of the circumcised class). Even of those whom Paul considered to have been made into stumbling blocks to his ministry, he did not blame the persons themselves for that. He counseled the persons who gave too much attention to personalities, personalities such as himself, Apollos or Peter. But he still accepted these "leading men" were ministers through whom the Corinthians had become believers. (1 Corinthians 1:11, 12) 11 For some from the house of Chloʹe have informed me regarding you, my brothers, that there are dissensions among you. 12 What I mean is this, that each one of you says: “I belong to Paul,” “But I to A·polʹlos,” “But I to Ceʹphas,” “But I to Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:3-6) 3 for you are still fleshly. Since there are jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and are you not walking as men do? 4 For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” but another says, “I to A·polʹlos,” are you not acting like mere men? 5 What, then, is A·polʹlos? Yes, what is Paul? Ministers through whom you became believers, just as the Lord granted each one. 6 I planted, A·polʹlos watered, but God kept making it grow, (1 Corinthians 3:20-4:3) 20 And again: “Jehovah knows that the reasonings of the wise men are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men; for all things belong to you, 22 whether Paul or A·polʹlos or Ceʹphas or the world or life or death or things now here or things to come, all things belong to you; 23 in turn you belong to Christ; Christ, in turn, belongs to God. 4 A man should regard us as attendants of Christ and stewards of God’s sacred secrets. 2 In this regard, what is expected of stewards is that they be found faithful. 3 Now to me it is of very little importance to be examined by you or by a human tribunal. . . . I included all three passages for another reason. It could very well be that it's a product of a "fleshly" mind that might tend to undervalue or even disdain the leadership of those in responsible positions. Some disdain authority for their own iconoclastic reasons or for unknown or illogical reasons. But Paul showed above that it was the "fleshly" mind that gave too much regard to leadership positions. In fact, Paul shows that these leadership positions are unimportant. Those who think that such men are capable of making a human tribunal of some kind of important authority are mistaken. After all, all things already belong to the members of the Christian congregation. It's not a matter of these members reporting to Apollos or Peter or Paul. It's just as appropriate to say that Peter should report to the members of the congregation. Paul is surely saying that there should be no central authority other than Christ who belongs to God. It seems that Paul's point here is that it is the danger of the fleshly mind to look to specific people in the congregations as some kind of authority. But all of us should be servants to one another instead, he says.
  13. First of all, I should repeat that I have deep respect for the elders who call themselves the "Governing Body" because they have taken the lead in speaking and teaching. They are worthy of "double honor" for their hard work and the heavy responsibility they have taken upon themselves. Granted that this does not excuse them from false teachings and doing nothing about traditional false teachings from the past. Nor does it excuse them for not doing enough to expose the potential gravity and extent of child sexual abuse and child physical abuse. I'm not trying to divert this topic to the specifics of any other issues of doctrines and procedures. I know you'll disagree, but this is just to explain my own view. It's just that I wanted you to know that I think these particular elders, who call themselves a Governing Body, have put themselves in a unique and valuable position for the overall benefit of congregations worldwide. They have years of experience studying, speaking, and teaching on Bible topics. They are in a position to discuss certain difficult doctrinal issues with others who have years of experience studying the Bible. The size of this group of elders focusing on the study of the Bible for teaching purposes is kept manageable for purposes of efficient discussion and decision making (8 or so persons). There is always a ready "crew" of persons who can help handle related issues of logistics or issues of lesser importance. There is always a ready "crew" of persons who can help research issues, handle their incoming and outgoing communications, translation printing, etc. They are in a position to hear questions and concerns about current doctrines and procedures that could potentially come from all over the world. They have years of experience working with various congregations. They have years of experience traveling to congregations in various places in the world to be aware of various customs and practices that differ from their own. They have a mindset that makes them want to imitate the serious responsibility that the early Christian apostles had when they devote themselves to prayer and teaching. They have the ability to respond to questions and issues very quickly and consistently in a way that the entire world of congregations can benefit from. Of course, this is fraught with all kinds of dangers and potential abuse. Or a small mistake can quickly turn into a large one. Things that are legal and expected in one country might get the congregations in trouble in another country, for example. There are other things, of course, but these ones are important to me. Surely you would think that in any church or congregation there might be a need for organization and leadership. Agreeing on meeting times, topics to speak about, topics for Bible study, activities, care for the building, what to do with contributions, and even issues of who might join the church, who might need to be dismissed from the church, who might need counsel or adjustment, who might have special needs the church can take care of, etc., etc. Most people would have no problem with this on a local church-by-church basis. But here we have tens of thousands of these congregations all around the world, and all of them are happy to teach exactly the same message. A group of elders who are deemed capable of handling this bigger responsibility is, in essence, no different than the local congregations. It's just that some of their functions will necessarily carry even greater responsibility. This might be true. But it can also just be a logistical problem. Remember how Moses handled the millions in a single "congregation" that began draining his time and energy. He ended up appointing a "hierarchy of command" similar to any large army or large business corporation, so that concerns could be handled more efficiently. Also, on a personal level, while at Bethel I sat at meetings with as many as 5 GB members at the same congregation meeting. While visiting Warwick several months ago, I sat in a meeting with 2 members of the GB and 3 GB "Helpers" (and the wife of a deceased GB member, Sydlik). I could have gone up to any one of them after the meeting to ask questions. In fact, I did. I asked Brother Morris, "How are you?" Anyway, in my opinion, the Governing Body provides a practical committee of elders handling issues that elders should handle. The difference being that they handle issues that come in from the worldwide congregation. As long as all the persons who listen to them are willing to question and critique the doctrines and processes, as all Christians have a duty to do, then there is nothing wrong with having a "Governing Body." (You might know that we are not the only religion that happens to call such a committee of "church decision-makers" a "Governing Body.") That might not be the best phrase, but it's clear that the congregations generally agree that it's appropriate to have such a group. I personally don't agree that any such group should make a claim that they are THE faithful and discreet slave prophesied to come into existence at a proper time beginning in 1919. It's indiscreet and unfaithful to the teachings of the scriptures to accept them in that specific capacity. I'm sure they are making a mistake in that regard, but again, this is just my own opinion. It doesn't stop me from accepting and respecting 98.6 percent of what is published by them.
  14. Here I am getting the credit for doing "heavy lifting" while you are the one presenting the best possible defense for the usual reading of these incidents through the support in Acts 15. So, yes, this phrase "although we did not give them any instructions" is the key that defends Peter and James [and John, not mentioned in Acts]. I don't believe it's correct to call the apostles and older men in Jerusalem a "Governing Body" but for simplicity of communication, I'll still abbreviate them as the J-GB. We don't know how many were involved in this J-GB. Perhaps Peter, James and perhaps the entire remaining group of apostles and evidently a couple other elders at this time (unless James, the brother of Jesus, was one of the elders, and we know that Judas-Barsabbas and Silas/Sylvanus were also leading men at Jerusalem). Perhaps all the 12 apostles from Acts 1:26 were still around, with at least the obvious exception of James the son of Zebedee (brother of John, son of Zebedee) --Acts 12:2. But the reason I called these three (James, Peter, John) Judaizers is not because they were ACTIVE Judaizers, the ones going out themselves and creating the trouble, but because -from Paul's perspective as presented in Galatians- they are guilty of creating the problem. Is it possible that Paul only assumed that the J-GB had given instructions to SUBVERT him, and he learned differently for the first time when they explained it in Acts 15? Or was Paul much more sensitive to the lack of action against these subverters, realizing that the passive act of sending out spies, with active Judaizers included in their group of spies, made them guilty of Judaizing? Paul thinks of Judaizers as "false brothers" no matter how sincere they were about their faith and Christianity among their own Jewish brothers. Paul says that they were "sent" from James. Acts merely says "they went out from among us." Who is the "us"? Jewish Christians? Jerusalem brothers? "Elders" who were included in the so called J-GB? No matter what, at the very least, James and Peter know that some had gone out from "them" to subvert Paul's ministry and teaching, even if they had not been instructed to subvert it. I think that Paul included the experience with Peter in Antioch, because it was the perfect indictment of the attitude of the J-GB. They knew that Paul was right, but they cowered at actively supporting his ministry to uncircumcised persons of the nations. Obviously there were other brothers there with Peter who were Jewish Christians, and those Jewish Christians were "false brothers" in that they would not extend a full hand of support and fellowship to the Gentile Christians, separating the brotherhood. (Even though Jesus had said the two folds would become ONE flock. 😉) Peter proved himself a Judaizer by choosing to "side with" the conduct of the Judaizers. Paul said that this was HYPOCRISY (the actual Greek word Paul used was hypocrisy, which is softened in the NWT to "pretense" just as Peter being CONDEMNED is softened to "in the wrong"). Paul said that Peter was thereby COMPELLING people of the nations to live according to this Jewish custom of separation from uncircumcised persons. (Galatians 2:11-14) 11 However, when Ceʹphas came to Antioch, I resisted him face-to-face, because he was clearly in the wrong [Greek: CONDEMNED]. 12 For before certain men from James arrived, he used to eat with people of the nations; but when they arrived, he stopped doing this and separated himself, fearing those of the circumcised class. 13 The rest of the Jews also joined him in putting on this pretense [Greek: HYPOCRISY], so that even Barʹna·bas was led along with them in their pretense [HYPOCRISY]. 14 But when I saw that they were not walking in step with the truth of the good news, I said to Ceʹphas before them all: “If you, though you are a Jew, live as the nations do and not as Jews do, how can you compel people of the nations to live according to Jewish practice?” Paul explains his reasons for such language, because Peter, for example, was a transgressor by tearing down things he had himself once built up (recall that Peter was the first to go to the uncircumcised). He was REJECTING the undeserved kindness of God, in effect, rejecting Christ's sacrifice. Paul is therefore speaking of the EVIL influence of the condemnable and hypocritical actions of Peter and the men James had sent: (Galatians 2:18-3:1) . . .If the very things that I once tore down I build up again, I demonstrate that I am a transgressor. . . . 21 I do not reject the undeserved kindness of God, for if righteousness is through law, Christ actually died for nothing. 3 O senseless Ga·laʹtians! Who has brought you under this evil influence,. . . Luke, in Acts, is merely putting the overall past picture in its simplest form without including his own judgment about whether Peter and James were absolutely correct in their claim. Luke in Acts also removes most of the controversy. Without Paul (in Galatians) we would not even be aware of some time periods being so many years, when Luke uses expressions like "a few days" "many days after this." For example, Acts does not give the impression that Paul went off to Arabia for 3 years.
  15. Good point. This is why there are probably a dozen topics and at least 100 rumors and even well-known, documented incidents that I will never say anything about. There are even specific things that I made promises to the people involved not to talk about. If those incidents happen to make an important point, or provide a learning or teaching opportunity, there are always other ways or other available examples that can help make the same point.
  16. I was mostly thanking you for the jpg idea. I might buy the software that does that myself. I've had applications that were supposed to do this automatically, but they often fail the scrolling. In this one you have I understand that you just scroll down yourself, manually. I'm interested in the speed at which you can scroll down and it still captures everything. On the issue of whether the Jerusalem "GB" were avoided by Paul on purpose, I don't know. Perhaps it was at first his own need to meditate on a life-changing experience, and then, when ready, he was fired up to begin full-speed ahead to his missionary journeys. But Paul does make it clear that it was IMPORTANT to him and this particular audience in Galatia, that he had in fact avoided much contact with Jerusalem for the entire first three years after his conversion, then a two week visit, and then another 14 years without direct interaction with apostles and other so-called pillars in Jerusalem. I assumed that this distancing himself from the J-GB was what was surprising, and as this was your own take on it, I agree that it surprises a lot of people when it's pointed out. It might not have been completely on purpose, but Paul definitely turns that apparent avoidance into a "positive" thing. That's a little different from Witnesses I know who just must make that trek to New York at least one more time before they die. And many of them think "out loud" about "maybe meeting someone from the Governing Body." On the issue of trying to tie Galatians to a version of the same problem Paul points out in the Corinthian letters (and even Romans to an extent), this is a conjecture. I'm just talking it out here, hoping to get some good feedback. On the issue of understanding the difficulties in the Jerusalem apostles' attitudes, at this particular time period, we know there was a resolution from Acts 15. But we don't know that all the apostles held fast to that solution, or if these major problems are from some hold-outs who never accepted the Acts 15 solution. But what we do know is that there was a direct relationship between the false brothers who were smuggled in to spy on Paul, and the "apostles and older men" in Jerusalem. Paul indicts James for sending such men to Antioch, and he indicts Peter for not holding fast to the solutions that he had been a part of in welcoming Gentiles into the Jewish congregations. There are ways of looking at this the way Anna has pointed out. And I've seen these offered as a specific solution against what seems obvious: that Paul is trying to warn them about these persons who say they represent the apostles themselves, or were actually sent by the apostles themselves, and for some period of time, may have actually included the apostles themselves. If you had to judge by the word count which side might be right, then I have to admit that my "long version" tends to sound like I am "bullying" a version of events. Like I'm trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. But that's just to raise attention for those who are interested enough to read pages and pages on the topic. (I'm actually surprised you had read what I wrote, and this was part of the reason for the "Thank You" I tagged to your post. I was honored that you read it.)
  17. I would guess that this particular understanding might have become popular because it moves the conflict away from the hands of Peter, James and John. But I think that Paul makes it very clear that he is referring to these same ones. Note: Chapter 2 (1-5) says that Paul (after FOURTEEN YEARS away from Jerusalem), went up, not because they called him, but because he had a revelation from Jesus Christ, to pay "them" a visit. Who do we think that "them" refers to? So far, the only persons he has named from a previous visit to Jerusalem are Peter and James(1:18). And he had said back then that he hadn't yet gone to Jerusalem to meet with those who were apostles before he was. So, I think you already agree that "them" refers to apostles and older men in Jerusalem. Paul met privately with these men who were "highly regarded." He didn't want any big blow-up. And he didn't want to give anyone a chance to completely undercut his ministry before he had a chance to defend it PRIVATELY to at least a few of these "highly regarded" men in Jerusalem. Paul had already made it clear that he himself didn't show any HIGH REGARD to any persons, no matter what their reputation. He was ready to curse any highly regarded person, even an ANGEL, if necessary, and went on to say that he wouldn't have gone there to please any men. (1:8-10) He did this to make sure he was not running in vain. Now Paul already said that he knew his ministry was directly from Christ Jesus, so he already knew that his teaching and his ministry was not in vain. He was not looking for approval. He was looking to see if this visit was an opportunity to clear up a problem that brothers from Jerusalem had started to spread to other congregations. But notice that he is still at this private meeting with apostles and older men at Jerusalem. For surely he could only see this problem get cleared up if he met with those who were held in the highest regard. He could not go to some fringe element of brothers who were not so well known, and expect that this would somehow solve the problem of people undermining his ministry to the nations. Therefore, it's with respect to meeting with apostles and older men at Jerusalem that he says NEVERTHELESS, NOT EVEN TITUS was compelled to be circumcised, EVEN THOUGH he was a Greek. The dynamic is that Paul is writing to people in Galatia who would have expected to hear that the APOSTLES would have surely forced Titus into submission. Sure, maybe Paul could stand up to them and argue theological theory, and they could do nothing to him because he was already circumcised anyway! But the real AUTHORITY to make people submit, they all "knew" (or thought they knew) could not be denied if it came from the apostles. So these Galatians were assuming the necessity of submitting to the authority of the apostles. This would be the reason why Paul went to so much trouble to "diminish" the supposed authority of the Jerusalem apostles and elders. Paul says "that matter came up because of false brothers brought in quietly." Well who brought them in? Who sent them? Is Paul referring to the experience back in Antioch, or something that just happened in the middle of his "private" session with the "apostles and older men" in Jerusalem? Granted he calls some false brothers, and probably is referring directly to the ones who were "sent" or "brought in quietly." This is not a mistaken translation. It means persons who were smuggled in sneakily. We don't like to think that Paul could have referred to any of the elders or apostles themselves as "false brothers," but remember that he just potentially called such ones "ACCURSED" up in 1:8-9, so it is possible that he refers to a point in time when they were acting falsely. At the very least Paul does nothing to exonerate the apostles from the idea that they, the apostles, had secretly brought these "spies" to a private meeting, or involved them somehow. If Paul is referring to false brothers brought in back in Antioch, then we already know that these men were sent from James. (2:12) No matter what, though, we know that the so-called pillars are Peter, James and John from 2:9. We also surmise that the matter was apparently cleared up for the moment, as is indicated in Acts 15 -- after no little disputing! There is also a parallel in 2 Cor 11, which is also the only other place in the Bible where Paul uses a word that means "false brothers." It's clear that Paul was not always referring to Jerusalem whenever he mentioned apostles, false apostles, and false brothers (at Corinth). But note something that might be even more important in this parallel to Galatians 1: (2 Corinthians 11:4, 5) 4 For as it is, if someone comes and preaches a Jesus other than the one we preached, or you receive a spirit other than what you received, or good news other than what you accepted, you easily put up with him. 5 For I consider that I have not proved inferior to your superfine apostles in a single thing. We tend to understand it as if these Corinthians had their own "superfine" apostles. "Superfine" only in their own eyes. But, first, the Greek does not support the word "your" here. And, second, the term "superfine" is not the most likely meaning of the phrase, which is used only here in 2 Corinthians and nowhere else. That specific translation, not just in the NWT, might be preferred because it would then seem that there was no conflict between Paul and the apostles in Jerusalem at this particular time in their ministry. However, the Greek text might only be saying. "I have not proved inferior to THE (not "your") EMINENT APOSTLES." The words making up the phrase actually mean just that, literally. In no other context do we find it necessary to make such words mean "super" as if in some snide or sarcastic sense. Therefore some translations say the following, instead:
      Hello guest!
    Berean Literal Bible For I reckon in nothing to have been inferior to those "most eminent apostles." New American Standard Bible For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles. King James Bible For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. New Heart English Bible For I reckon that I am not at all behind the very best apostles. Aramaic Bible in Plain English For I think that I have not come short in anything compared to those Apostles who greatly excel. New American Standard 1977 For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles. King James 2000 Bible For I suppose I was not the least behind the very chief apostles. American King James Version For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very most chief apostles. American Standard Version For I reckon that I am not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. Douay-Rheims Bible For I suppose that I have done nothing less than the great apostles. Darby Bible Translation For I reckon that in nothing I am behind those who are in surpassing degree apostles. Webster's Bible Translation For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very greatest apostles. World English Bible For I reckon that I am not at all behind the very best apostles. Young's Literal Translation for I reckon that I have been nothing behind the very chiefest apostles, Those translations sound more like they refer to the prominent apostles in Jerusalem. (Even as it stands, it could be Paul's way of referring to the Jerusalem apostles, similar to "those who seemed to be something." Now, if Paul has just given a parallel to Galatians in this portion of 2 Cor 11, then it could easily explain why, in 2 Cor, he might also be following it in this very next sentence with a statement about the apostles in Jerusalem. It could then be for the same reason he called them the "so-called pillars" which he named in Galatians 2:9 as Peter, James and John. These men were "chiefest" apostles in Paul's words because as he said in Galatians, these were the apostles who came before him. (1:17) He considered himself the "least" of the apostles because he had persecuted the congregation. (1 Corinthians 15:5-9) . . .and that he appeared to Ceʹphas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that he appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still with us, though some have fallen asleep in death. 7 After that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 But last of all he appeared also to me as if to one born prematurely. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, and I am not worthy of being called an apostle, because I persecuted the congregation of God. (Galatians 1:13) . . .I kept intensely persecuting the congregation of God and devastating it; (Ephesians 3:8) . . .To me, a man less than the least of all holy ones,. . . (1 Corinthians 9:2) 2 Even if I am not an apostle to others, I most certainly am to you!. . . It makes more sense that Paul thought of himself as "least" in comparison, not with local eminent apostles in Corinth, but compared with the "most prominent and eminent" apostles in Jerusalem, which in the same context he names as "James, then to all the apostles."
  18. Earlier today I tried the online chat, and I've sent an email. Not to ask the question, but to see if I could speak by phone. No contact yet. But perhaps someone here already has his book(s) and knows whether he uses the Philo example on John 1:1.
  19. I have never communicated with Greg Stafford in any way, although I did communicate several times with one of his friends and associates, Rolf Furuli. Furuli indicated that Stafford's NT Greek is excellent and that he writes meticulously on the topic of Trinity. I never had any interest in engaging Trinitarians because I think it's a "done deal." So there's really nothing left to talk about. At Bethel, someone had to do some research on Trinity, and managed to find some fairly new information that could be related to John 1:1 from Philo. It was the last time I ever showed any interest in it, because there is just so much out there, but it's all so repetitious. *** w85 12/15 p. 25 “The Word Was With God, and the Word Was . . . ”? *** In 1984 there appeared in English a translation from German of a commentary by scholar Ernst Haenchen (Das Johannesevangelium. Ein Kommentar). It renders John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and divine [of the category divinity] was the Logos.”—John 1. A Commentary on the Gospel of John Chapters 1-6, page 108, translated by Robert W. Funk. Philo has therefore written: the λόγος [Logos] means only θεός (‘divine’) and not ὁ θεός (‘God’) since the logos is not God in the strict sense. . . . In a similar fashion, Origen, too, interprets: the Evangelist does not say that the logos is ‘God,’ but only that the logos is ‘divine.’ In fact, for the author of the hymn [in John 1:1], as for the Evangelist, only the Father was ‘God’ (ὁ θεός; cf. 17:3); ‘the Son’ was subordinate to him (cf. 14:28). But that is only hinted at in this passage because here the emphasis is on the proximity of the one to the other.” A German-speaking brother translated that portion in 1981, because the book was only out in German at that time. I think it's an excellent explanation of John 1:1. I'm curious now if Greg Stafford uses it in his books. I see he has several different books in several versions on a website here:
      Hello guest!
    That same site also has Rolf Furuli's book about Bible Translation selling on it, right next to Stafford's book: "Jehovah's Witnesses Defended." Made me think that Stafford might still be a JW, because I'm pretty sure Rolf Furuli still is. Haven't spoken to Furuli in several years now, although he sent me his books for free. I sent money anyway, but it was a nice gesture. To the chagrin of some here, I have already told of brothers in the Writing Department, and even a few Governing Body members, who didn't fully accept 1914 (including GB members: Chitty, Swingle, Schroeder, Sydlik, R.Franz). For those who know the background discussions going on at the time --actually even since the late 1960's-- that might seem understandable. But another member of the Writing Department told me something that was less believable. He says that in the 1990's there was a brother in the Writing Department, brilliant with NT Greek, who actually came to believe, not in the Trinity, per se, but in Jesus Christ's full divinity. He evidently came to believe that John 1:1 says what traditional Trinitarians think it says. He had no problem with anything else as far as I was told, and I don't know how much longer he tried to stay and work with the Writing Department. But naturally, when it was more widely known, he was out of there. I have a feeling this is one of the most rare things, to see a former brother who STUDIED the topic, start believing in that part of the Trinity. I would lose any last bit of respect for Stafford if he turns out to have gone back to believing in the Trinity, or parts thereof. Does anyone know?
  20. Then you are right back to the points you were making with Outta Here about whether "spirit-directed" means the same as "inspired." This is a big topic to explore: It would be easy to imagine that the two words mean the same thing. We wouldn't be surprised at all if we looked up "inspired" in any dictionary and found one of the definitions to be "directed by the Holy Spirit" and perhaps another to be "directed by evil spirits." In fact the expression "borne along by holy spirit" in the Bible means inspired. Some translations say "carried along by Holy Spirit." The NWT now says: (2 Peter 1:21) . . .For prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were moved by holy spirit. The word translated "moved" refers to "being driven" (in fact the German word fuhren, to drive or to be conducted, is allied with the Greek word phero used here). If you conduct something, like a cow through a field, you are directing that cow. If you are blowing wind into the sails of a toy boat, you are driving or conducting or directing that boat. So being moved by holy spirit means being spirit directed, and here, it also means inspired. In our definitions among JWs, we treat the idea of spirit and holy spirit a lot more passively than the NT does. We no longer say that a specific person is spirit directed. Only that the organization as a whole is spirit directed. There was a time when "we" (Bible Students and early Jehovah's Witnesses) might even say that Russell or Rutherford was spirit directed. But we didn't stop there. We even thought that Russell was himself spirit directing the Society after he died. (Therefore he could even write a book post-humously and be considered the author, even though only about half of what was in there was actually based on his own earlier writings.) A woman could be spirit-directed in writing a book supposedly directed by one of the fallen angels who came down before the Flood of Noah's day. With a few corrections, her book could be re-packaged, promoted and sold through the Watch Tower Society. Just a few years ago Brother Herd from the Governing Body recommended the book as interesting reading after he found it in the Bethel Library. A politician in England who agreed with Rutherford could be considered to be have the spirit of the Old Testament prophets, and be a prophet just like Rutherford was considered to be. There was no shame in stating that Rutherford had the spirit of the Old Testament prophets. There was no shame in stating that Russell was the "angel of the church of Laodicea" the "seventh messenger" of Revelation, and that he was personally the "faithful and wise servant" who provided food to the domestics at the proper time. Then, in Rutherford's day, there were those "flashes of light" in Jehovah's temple. Not always considered to have been from Holy Spirit, but at least considered to have been directed from angels. We considered "1935" and the new understanding of the "great multitude" (great crowd) to be one of those flashes of light in God's holy temple, and we considered the new understanding that the "higher powers"/"superior authorities" were no longer the secular authorities to be another of those "flashes of light." But then we changed our view on the latter "flash" completely (180 degrees), and changed many of our views on 1935 too. The Watchtower publications have explicitly stated that they do not feel that the translation (NWT) is inspired. But (and this is mostly for John and Billy) the Watchtower has found scholarly support for the translation in general. See here for example:
      Hello guest!
  21. Paul specifically mentions Peter as coming to Antioch and being clearly in the wrong when Peter "feared those of the circumcised class." But look who sent those men of the circumcised class: (Galatians 2:11, 12) . . .However, when Ceʹphas came to Antioch, I resisted him face-to-face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12 For before certain men from James arrived, he used to eat with people of the nations; but when they arrived, he stopped doing this and separated himself, fearing those of the circumcised class. It was specifically because these men had such a "superfine" reputation as the leaders in Jerusalem that Paul went to the trouble of saying that "even if it were an angel from heaven declaring a different good news" they should CURSE that angel. (Galatians 1:7-9) . . .Not that there is another good news; but there are certain ones who are causing you trouble and wanting to distort the good news about the Christ. 8 However, even if we or an angel out of heaven were to declare to you as good news something beyond the good news we declared to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, I now say again, Whoever is declaring to you as good news something beyond what you accepted, let him be accursed. The focus was on "whoever" even if that "whoever" turned out to be "we" -- the persons the Galatians would have trusted, even an APOSTLE like Paul himself -- or even an ANGEL. Well what was considered the closest thing to an ANGEL for the congregations in that day? I think we know that the most likely persons were the apostles at Jerusalem who were actively trying to Judaize or the apostles who knew better but allowed their own peers at Jerusalem to influence them to Judaize. Why else would Paul immediately try to distance himself from these very apostles? Why would he immediately follow this up by showing how he distanced himself from any supposed authority or teachings coming out of Jerusalem? (Galatians 1:10-2:7) . . .Is it, in fact, men I am now trying to persuade or God? Or am I trying to please men? . . . the good news I declared to you is not of human origin; 12 for neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it was through a revelation by Jesus Christ. . . . 15 But when God . . . thought good 16 to reveal his Son through me so that I might declare the good news about him to the nations, I did not immediately consult with any human; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before I was, but I went to Arabia, and then I returned to Damascus. 18 Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to visit Ceʹphas, and I stayed with him for 15 days. 19 But I did not see any of the other apostles, only James the brother of the Lord. 20 Now regarding the things I am writing you, I assure you before God that I am not lying. . . . 22 But I was personally unknown to the congregations of Ju·deʹa. . . . 2 Then after 14 years I again went up to Jerusalem with Barʹna·bas, also taking Titus along with me. . . . 3 Nevertheless, not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, although he was a Greek. 4 But that matter came up because of the false brothers brought in quietly, who slipped in to spy on the freedom we enjoy in union with Christ Jesus, so that they might completely enslave us; 5 we did not yield in submission to them, no, not for a moment, so that the truth of the good news might continue with you. 6 But regarding those who seemed to be important—whatever they were makes no difference to me, for God does not go by a man’s outward appearance—those highly regarded men imparted nothing new to me. 7 On the contrary,. . . Why do we think that Paul tries to show that he never had much interaction at all with Jerusalem, and the "supposed" pillars there? Why is it important that he say he did NOT go up to Jerusalem "to those were apostles" but ran off to Arabia instead? Even after three years he only just spent two weeks in Jerusalem staying with Peter, and he happened to see James while he was there -- but NONE of the other apostles? What is the main point here that he wants the Galatians to be sure they remember he is not lying about? It can only be that he must do his best to smash this myth that Jerusalem is the seat of some kind of authority they should accept. These Galatians are complying with Judaizers, the same problem in Antioch, because they thought that Jerusalem had authority to impose such doctrines on them. So Paul makes it clear that even when he was right there in Jerusalem, that they were not compelled to follow the Judaizers, and the "false brothers" in Jerusalem who wanted to enslave them back into aspects of Jewish law, the most obtrusive of which was "circumcision" - which Paul also utilized as a key expression to summarize the entire egregious idea of being put under law. You can see that here when circumcision is expanded to mean any kind of placement under law: (Galatians 4:1-11) . . .9 But now that you have come to know God or, rather, have come to be known by God, how is it that you are turning back again to the weak and beggarly elementary things and want to slave for them over again? 10 You are scrupulously observing days and months and seasons and years. 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. But it also included putting themselves under stewards and supervisors. Now that they were no longer under law, they should understand that they are all sons and heirs, and have no reason to go back under human stewards and supervisors. This might refer back to Paul's comments about the supposed "pillars" at Jerusalem, whose authority he didn't accept. (Galatians 4:1-11) . . .Now I say that as long as the heir is a young child, he is no different from a slave, although he is the lord of all things, 2 but he is under supervisors and stewards until the day set ahead of time by his father. 3 Likewise, we too, when we were children, were enslaved by the elementary things of the world. 4 But when the full limit of the time arrived, God sent his Son, who was born of a woman and who was under law, 5 that he might release by purchase those under law, so that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Now because you are sons, God has sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, and it cries out: “Abba, Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave but a son; and if a son, then you are also an heir through God. 8 Nevertheless, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those who are not really gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God or, rather, have come to be known by God, how is it that you are turning back again to the weak and beggarly elementary things and want to slave for them over again? I think we can take from this that even where the supposed pillars and supervisors (governing bodies) and stewards are faithful and give us good instruction and a good example to follow, that we never should accept that "authority" is coming from them. It should never be the Governing Body we think of them as persons to "obey." Except in the sense of following good examples that their experience has proven to be worthwhile to imitate. Just as we do should do for any elders taking the lead. (Hebrews 13:7-17) 7 Remember those who are taking the lead among you, who have spoken the word of God to you, and as you contemplate how their conduct turns out, imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever. 9 Do not be led astray by various and strange teachings, for it is better for the heart to be strengthened by undeserved kindness than by foods, which do not benefit those occupied with them. . . . 16 Moreover, do not forget to do good and to share what you have with others, for God is well-pleased with such sacrifices. 17 Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over you as those who will render an account, so that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you. Those who think their changing teachings are "food" forget that Jesus is the same, unchanging, and it is undeserved kindness that is much more important than various and strange teachings. Therefore, the ones taking the lead that we are obedient to, are not ones where we feel we must be obedient to any specific teachings. We are obedient to their concerns and counsel about our CONDUCT to the extent that we respect how their own conduct and faith has turned out. This probably sounds like heresy to those who can't get over the idea that we need to be OBEDIENT to the teachings of the Governing Body, or even OBEDIENT the teachings of faithful stewards. We are actually obedient to the counsel of those who are concerned about our Christian conduct, and if we can see that this counsel conforms to their own good example. The real spiritual "food," where we should get our motivation and energy, is our response to Christ's "undeserved kindness." Our "will" should be to Jehovah's will, and find good leading examples that can help us do his will. That should be the motive. God has given us the greatest example of doing good for us, so we wish to also "do good and share what we have with others." These are the good works and conduct that should also be the "meat" of our meetings: (Hebrews 10:24, 25) 24 And let us consider one another so as to incite to love and fine works, 25 not forsaking our meeting together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, . . . Considering (remembering/comtemplating) one another so as to incite (lead/motivate) to love and fine works. This is the reason for meeting together and encouraging one another.
  22. No. Certainly not! They were Judaizers. So he said they "seemed to be pillars." (Galatians 2:6-9) . . .But regarding those who seemed to be important—whatever they were makes no difference to me, for God does not go by a man’s outward appearance—those highly regarded men imparted nothing new to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the good news for those who are uncircumcised, just as Peter had been for those who are circumcised— 8 for the one who empowered Peter for an apostleship to those who are circumcised also empowered me for those who are of the nations— 9 and when they recognized the undeserved kindness that was given me, James and Ceʹphas and John, the ones who seemed to be pillars, gave Barʹna·bas and me the right hand of fellowship, . . .
  23. You are wrong again. But that is not unusual. You have a terrible track record when you make such assumptions. I accept and appreciate the many scholarly opinions that support the accuracy and value of the NWT. I do not even support all the opinions of those scholarly works that I referenced. In many cases their opinions about the accuracy or inaccuracy of certain passages are colored by their own theological bias. I didn't state this. Again, you completely make up things that I supposedly stated. As you can see I stated nothing like this and nothing even related to this. And furthermore I don't believe it's a problem to revise based on newly found evidence. Why would anyone?
  24. I have always deferred to you whenever you showed evidence that I was wrong and you were right. And, assuming I am right about your past avatars, this has actually happened more than once. What I am still saying is that I am willing to accept where the Biblical evidence leads. And most of the time it leads me support the Watchtower. You have already seen this many times, but those areas where I support the Watchtower hold no interest to you. The biggest discussions always ensue over those areas where the Biblical evidence leads away from the Watchtower's traditional views. These are for the most part chronology-related, or doctrines that we ended up getting locked into, because of our chronology doctrines (generation, etc.). I have been very clear that I'm sure the Bible does not support our chronology teachings. I can now say that I have no doubts about this. The pseudo-archaeology we have used to try to get "outside" support for our chronology is undoubtedly also against the WT view, and it also happens to support the Bible's view. But I'm more interested in what the Bible itself says about our chronology doctrines. I am 100 percent in agreement with our teachings on Soul, Trinity, Paradise Earth, War, Neutrality, Elders, Smoking/Recreational Drugs/Alcohol, Morals, Pagan Roots of Worldly Holidays, Meetings, Our Ministry, using God's Name, the Ransom, Jehovah's Sovereignty, His Eternal Purpose, and probably hundreds more specific understandings of scriptures that vary from the way that most of Christendom understands them. Also, it doesn't "suit me" to contradict the Watchtower in those areas where the Bible evidence leads away from certain traditional teachings we have not broken free from yet. These differences sometimes result in painful realizations. Sometimes it's the realization that many are suffering (or have suffered) unnecessarily. The difference in the way certain young brothers are now treated in several countries where they were once told not to accept any kind of alternative service when their conscience would have allowed it is an example. We now know that there have been literally hundreds or even thousands of abused Witness children for whom any kind of justice was made difficult due to a policy that put the reputation of the organization first. Any difference between my own views and those of the Watchtower must always be based on Biblical evidence, prayer, meditation, conscience, reasonableness, and always FIRST giving the benefit of any doubt to the elder men who publish our teachings in the publications and through approved representatives. This way, if I find there are areas of doctrine I can no longer support in good conscience, it is no longer based on any doubt or conflict. There are also certain areas where I am still trying to follow the Bible's counsel to "make sure of all things." Those areas where I am "making sure" I am also willing to discuss here. And I'm happy to hear any Bible evidence you have that is appropriate.
  25. That's how I had always read it, too. But there is also a strong possibility that he really means that he wanted to be sure that everything he was doing was not being undone by these superfine apostles from Jerusalem (like James, Peter, and John). James and Peter had influence outside of Jerusalem, obviously all the way up to Galatia, where James sent people to undermine Paul's work, and Peter actually visited himself and ended up setting a bad example for the brothers, there. Under another topic you already responded to some of these points, but I'll pick up on them again here. Remember, too, that Peter was a big influence in Corinth, too, so that some were saying they belonged to Paul, Apollos, or Cephas. Paul drops several hints even in Corinthians that the superfine apostles included the "James gang" and others from the "Jerusalem party." It was easy for the Corinthians to see these apostles appointed by Jesus as a kind of Governing Body representing themselves as THE (superfine) FAITHFUL STEWARD. So Paul made a point to them that he was not a steward that needed such a human "tribunal." (1 Corinthians 4:1-3) . . .A man should regard us as attendants of Christ and stewards of God’s sacred secrets. 2 In this regard, what is expected of stewards is that they be found faithful. 3 Now to me it is of very little importance to be examined by you or by a human tribunal.. . . It's also pretty clear that Paul is speaking of this same tribunal that he speaks of in Galatians. Even the timing is set for us. (2 Corinthians 12:1, 2) . . .I have to boast. It is not beneficial, but I will move on to supernatural visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in union with Christ who, 14 years ago—whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know; God knows—was caught away to the third heaven. (Galatians 2:1, 2) . . .Then after 14 years I again went up to Jerusalem with Barʹna·bas, also taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up as a result of a revelation,. . .
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