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1 hour ago, Gone Away said:

“Beware of the scribes ......They devour the houses of the widows...." Mark 12:38,40

Appreciated your commentary here. I have read such things in commentaries but often tend to forget the specific ways that these "lawyers" were taking advantage of a widow's property. I tend to try to think of ways that they might have been trying to use Scripture to take advantage of a widow's property. 

I can't think of the name of it, but I have a small book I once photocopied about Early Christianity and the Widows. It mentioned the early Christian novelette: "Acts of Paul and Thecla" (see also 3/15/2018 WT QFR) that reminds us that there really must have been a problem with traveling elders who took advantage of widows and others in ways reminding us of these scriptural warnings.

  • (2 Timothy 3:6) 6 From among these arise men who slyly work their way into households and captivate weak women loaded down with sins,. . .
  • (Titus 1:11) . . .because these very men keep on subverting entire households by teaching things they should not for the sake of dishonest gain.

I noticed that an article here, linked below, ties the idea of a religious obligation in taking care of widows using both James 1:27 and 2 Tim 5:3-9, tying verse 4 more directly to verse 8 than we usually do: https://www.ajol.info/index.php/actat/article/viewFile/146038/135550

  • (1 Timothy 5:4-8) 4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let these learn first to practice godly devotion in their own household and to repay their parents and grandparents what is due them, for this is acceptable in God’s sight. . . .  8 Certainly if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.

 

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There have been several statements in the publications for those concerned about children, mentally incapacitated, and those alive at Armageddon who have never had an opportunity to learn of Jehovah's

That "succinct" answer is a perfect example of the "skirting" I referred to earlier: Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Feel That They Are the Only People Who Will Be Saved?

Perhaps it is one of the best ways to find the proper meaning of the following verses, among several others:   (Matthew 5:18) 18 Truly I say to you that sooner would heaven and earth pass

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7 hours ago, ComfortMyPeople said:

According these words, some people will not be judged as belonging to some religion, but regarding the deeds they did and their conscience approve or disapprove

Seconded. There are those out there who say they believe in God and automatically think once saved always saved and even if they sin or do bad, they get off Scott-free. As for others, they tend to abuse forgiveness that God gives, knowing they'll sin and thinking they can always be forgiven, such ones are playing with God's forgiveness.

Regardless though, this I agree with for everyone is accounted for what they have done or should have done. In the JWs case, for example, we can say 3 JWs, Tim, George and Pamela. One is making the effort, one is still learning, but the one of them calls themselves a member of said faith, but does something and or practices that are not of the bible at all. When the day of judgement comes, it would be obvious of who is who among them who will be judged.

In today's churches in Christendom, there are things taking place that would make even the spiritual among you cringe in shock, for it is that bad and continues to get even worse because the concern for the mainstream is converts, they care little of the sin, they just want a seat filled and nothing more, at times, tend to be very unhelpful in dealing with some situations. And now we are in a state whereas people can use the bible to justify a practice that is deemed unbiblical, example would be same sex-marriage, and the list goes on, it is as if people have lost themselves in their own little world while still being in the world itself- a state of inception and deception.

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6 hours ago, JW Insider said:

I noticed that an article here, linked below,

This is a truly fascinating study. Thanks very much for sharing it.

I noted this passage: 

"In short, the citizens of both Thasos and Rhodes took steps to ensure that the families of fallen warriors would suffer no loss either socially or economically. It should also be clear that these steps were taken out of self-interest, not for pure humanitarian reasons. State-sponsored care for orphaned sons and daughters, as well as for elderly parents, was designed to remove impediments to military service and to ensure a continuous supply of citizen-soldiers in the future." 

which is a remarkable confirmation of Proverbs 12:10 "But even the mercy of the wicked is cruel."

However, in all this there is scant reference to Jehovah himself, who really is the greatest example of one caring for orphans, over and above His delegation of that duty. There can be no more glaring example of need than the forced orphanage and  subsequent abuse and exploitation of the human family at the hands of the manslayer, Satan the Devil. Jehovah's provisions, culminating in the Ransom Sacrifice, amongst many things, provide a basis for restoring the orphaned family of Adam to their relationship with their heavenly father, rather in the spirit of 2Cor.6:18: "“‘And I will become a father to you, and you will become sons and daughters to me,’ says Jehovah, the Almighty.”"

There is no plausible excuse for the neglect of orphans and widows amongst those who claim to represent the true God, Jehovah as His Witnesses today, which is why the enjoinder at James 1:27 is, (borrowing from Prof. John T. Fitzgerald), so apodictical.

"The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world."

However, the final clause in that verse, with it's wider implications,  must not be overlooked. ?

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7 hours ago, Gone Away said:

and to keep oneself without spot from the world."

However, the final clause in that verse, with it's wider implications,  must not be overlooked. ?

Some would look at the last clause and immediately think it means, "See? We need to all be a part of an organization that is separate from the world." So then they perhaps they immediately copy the structures and hierarchies of the organizations of the world. In fact, "organization" when thought of as so all-important, might become one of the ways in which Christians become tainted by the world.

Jesus said as much each time he said, in effect: "This is the way it is done in the world . . . .but that is not the way it is to be with you."

  • (Matthew 23) 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the seat of Moses. . . .  5 All the works they do, they do to be seen by men, for they broaden the scripture-containing cases that they wear as safeguards and lengthen the fringes of their garments. 6 They like the most prominent place at evening meals and the front seats in the synagogues 7 and the greetings in the marketplaces and to be called Rabbi by men. 8 But you, do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your Teacher, and all of you are brothers. . . .  10 Neither be called leaders, for your Leader is one, the Christ. 11 But the greatest one among you must be your minister. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

I see some evidence of Jesus' correctness even among us when a group of elders who are mostly corporate decision-makers are exalted to be seen (by many) as our spiritual Leaders, and even giving themselves a special title that implies they are "governors" of our faith.

In fact, I think that what James meant in 1:27, in context, could have been more aligned with what Jesus said, quoted above, in Matthew 23:5: "All the works they do, they do to be seen by men." In other words, it was the worldly motivation behind works that was the problem. The desire to be seen, the showy display:

  • (1 John 2:16, 17) because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world. 17 Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire ,. . .

In fact, the solution to the apparent contradiction between James saying "faith without works" and Paul's discussions against "salvation by works" is easily resolved by the question of faith and love as motivation. Works that mean anything are only the things we do in response to "underserved kindness" out of faith and love.

  • (2 Corinthians 5:14) For the love the Christ has compels us. . .
  • (2 Corinthians 6:4-7) but in every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers, . . .  by love free from hypocrisy,
  • (2 Corinthians 8:7) 7 Nevertheless, just as you abound in everything, in faith and word and knowledge and all earnestness and in our love for you, may you also abound in this kind giving.
  • (1 Timothy 1:4, 5) . . .than providing anything from God in connection with faith. 5 Really, the objective of this instruction is love out of a clean heart and out of a good conscience and out of faith without hypocrisy.

I'm not against organization of course. In the list of highlighted ministries in 1 Corinthians 12, the very implication is that these ministries will come together as members of one body. Of course, Jehovah can see the "body" even if the members appear separated physically, which they often are. I believe you recently used the example of Elijah, in Romans 11:3,4, when he assumed he was alone when Jehovah saw 7,000 with him.

  • (1 Corinthians 12:27, 28) 27 Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you individually is a member. 28 And God has assigned the respective ones in the congregation: first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then powerful works; then gifts of healings; helpful services; abilities to direct; different tongues.

In addition to the overall implication of organization, here (and in other portions of the same letter) Paul highlights "abilities to direct" as one of the highlighted ministries. That's another indication that a congregation should be well-organized with persons who can take the lead in various ministries. Elsewhere, of course, Paul speaks of "order" in the congregations.

So this isn't about speaking against organization, but I believe the final clause in James 1:27 is more related to doing good works without the taint of worldly motivation, desire or hypocrisy. James has a theme of doing works out of faith in God, otherwise he mentions several motivations that would taint these works as meaningless.

 

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1 hour ago, JW Insider said:

I believe the final clause in James 1:27 is more related to doing good works without the taint of worldly motivation, desire or hypocrisy.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by saying more related as if there was an unbalanced emphasis somewhere. I think we are all pretty clear that an organisational membership alone is no sole criteria for God's approval. But it is clear from Scripture that purely motivated good works is not the sole criteria either.

I suppose to get the real balance would be to define the "world" that we are to be without spot from. This would be the same world founded with the children of Adam and Eve, born outside of Eden and outside of an approved relationship with Jehovah, conceived and born in sin. Additionally, this same" world" consitutes the human family ruled over by the one called Satan who is referred to elsewhere as the "ruler of the world". As it's "ruler", he dominates it's thinking, aims and objectives, practices, institutions and whatever else you can think of. Being that humans were made in God's image and endowed with conscience, Satan has always had a bit of a problem in getting all of them to do what he wants , particularly when they are  exposed to the will of Jehovah in one form or another. So he has had to rule for the most part in a deceptive, coercive, and oppressive manner. His additional hatred for all things related to Jehovah has led him to devise ways means of insulting or blasphemiing Jehovah with the knowing or ignorant complicity of both spirit and human creatures. However, as a right to rule issue is at the core of this  endeavour of Satan's, often beneficial results of varying degrees have been provided by his "world" as he has sought to harness the godly side of human nature in his deceptive attempt to dupe and win the support of conflicted mankind.

This "world" under his control has been sophisticated into all manner of systems by it's ruler, all manifesting the spirit that characterises it's originator, essentially one of rebellion against godly standards and purpose. It produces fruitage or behavioural characteristics rooted in the biblical descriptions of "works of the flesh" (activities driven by unbridled , sinful inclinations), and manifest in the deterioration of human relations descrbed as characterising the "last days" though of course not limited to that specific time period.

So that's the world to remain unspotted by. That obviously includes having the proper motivation for good works if they are to be approved by God.They can clearly be performed with wrong and corrupt "worldly" motivation, rendering them valueless to the "doer", even if many receive benefits from them.. But it also includes much more than a pure motive with a clue from the words of Paul at 2Cor 6:17 on this matter

So, as long as we are clear that community cleanness, as well as personal integrity, is essential in our having worship that is acceptable to the Father, all is well.  ?

 

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Just this morning in field service a long time faithful brother who was working with us mentioned the Jonah video (we have had our convention already, no spoilers here as most know there is a Jonah video) and that the people repented after the judgement message. He said he was wondering whether during the judgement message that we are going to declare, there will be people that will "repent" and maybe not even get baptized, but will be judged favorably and not be destroyed just like the Ninevites.....Our understanding has been, and is still current it appears, is that when we declare the judgement message after Babylon the Great is destroyed ("the hailstone message") it will be too late for anybody. It was brought out in the talk "proclamation of the hailstone message"  that according to Revelation 16:21, the people will blaspheme God, so no repentance there evidently. However, I wonder how the brothers can be so sure that this hailstone message will be an actual proclamation, and made by us?  We had a little trial run some years ago with the "false religion is nearing its end" tract and a few thought this was it. But obviously it wasn't. How can we be so sure that this is what Revelation 16 is talking about? because it seems to me that since an angel is pouring out the seven bowls of God's anger it would be a supernatural occasion, plus it sounds more like Armageddon already.

It could be said that the preaching work we do now is a judgement message like that of Jonah. But I see a distinct difference. We tell people the good news, and to repent as per what Jesus instructed us. With Jonah however there was no good news and no mention of repentance, he went there to tell the people Nineveh WILL be overthrown no ifs or buts.

When our message supposedly changes from that of good news to judgement, how is that not going to be similar to Jonah's message?

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On 6/25/2018 at 9:37 PM, JW Insider said:
  • (Matthew 25:37-40) 37 Then the righteous ones will answer him with the words: ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and receive you hospitably, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 In reply the King will say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

In our current WTS view, we avoid the idea that just any Christian might actually find Christ's brothers hungry and feed them, because this contradicts our current view of the "faithful and discreet slave." This must be why we ignore quote and focus on the "drink of water" instead.

I had to scroll up quite a number of posts to find the part I said I was going to reply to later. Just getting around to it now.

So isn't this because when Jesus is talking about "the least of these his brothers" he is not talking about just anyone (neighbor) but rather he is talking about his anointed brothers?

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On 6/30/2018 at 2:43 PM, Anna said:

So isn't this because when Jesus is talking about "the least of these his brothers" he is not talking about just anyone (neighbor) but rather he is talking about his anointed brothers?

Yes, I think by mentioning his brothers, he is referring to more than just a neighbor and I believe he likely meant all Christians in principle, but more specifically all anointed Christians. I think this is clear in Hebrews 2:10 - 3:1, where Christ's "brothers" are explicitly described as "partakers of the heavenly calling."

But that might only make it worse.

My point starts with the explanation of the Matthew 25 parable as it was given in the ka book (God's Kingdom of a Thousand Years - Has Approached). The explanation shifted from what Jesus said in the parable to a point about how the other sheep since 1935 have come to the aid of the anointed, and the point of the parable is shifted to a new meaning coming from a separate parable in Mark 9:40 and Matthew 10:45 focusing on the "drink of water" and the fact that it was only because these other sheep knew fully that it was Christ's brothers they came to assist by joining them because they had literally and physically been thrown in prison and had literally hungered and thirsted.

*** ka chap. 14 pp. 277-278 pars. 47-48 Earthly Subjects of the Kingdom of God ***

  • Rather, those whom the parable-teller Jesus designates as “sheep” and calls “righteous” do discriminate fearlessly. They intelligently and deliberately do good to Christ’s “brothers” because they recognize these to be such. They believe these “brothers” are imitating Jesus Christ and are doing the work that he commanded them to do. It is for this reason that their acts of assistance to Christ’s brothers have a special merit in his sight, for acts of that kind have a real Christian motivation. Such view of matters Jesus made clear to his apostles, when he said: “He that is not against us is for us. For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink on the ground that you belong to Christ, I truly tell you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Mark 9:40, 41) “And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water to drink because he is a disciple, I tell you truly, he will by no means lose his reward.”—Matthew 10:42.  The historical records reveal that during their work of preaching the good news of God’s kingdom and making disciples of people of all the nations down to the year 1935 C.E., and thereafter, Christ’s spiritual “brothers” have literally hungered and thirsted, they have needed clothing, they have been strangers and homeless, they have got sick and even been put in prison unjustly.

 

Here's one from a 1995 Watchtower:

*** w95 10/15 pp. 25-26 pars. 9-12 What Future for the Sheep and the Goats? ***

  • Ever since Satan was cast down to earth, he has made the remnant a special object of his fury, bringing on them ridicule, torture, and death.—Revelation 12:17.  Is Jesus saying that everyone doing a small kindness to one of his brothers, such as offering a piece of bread or a glass of water, qualifies as one of these sheep? . . .  On the contrary, Jesus twice called the sheep “righteous ones.” (Matthew 25:37, 46) So the sheep must be ones who over a period of time have come to the aid of—actively supporting—Christ’s brothers and have exercised faith to the extent of receiving a righteous standing before God. Over the centuries, many such as Abraham have enjoyed a righteous standing. (James 2:21-23) Noah, Abraham, and other faithful ones count among the “other sheep” who will inherit life in Paradise under God’s Kingdom. In recent times millions more have taken up true worship as other sheep and have become “one flock” with the anointed. (John 10:16; Revelation 7:9) These with earthly hopes recognize Jesus’ brothers as ambassadors of the Kingdom and have therefore aided them—literally and spiritually. Jesus counts as done to him what the other sheep do for his brothers on earth. Such ones who are alive when he comes to judge the nations will be judged as sheep. If the other sheep are now preaching the good news with the anointed and aiding them, why would they ask: “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink?” (Matthew 25:37) There could be various reasons. This is a parable.

*** w66 3/15 p. 192 Questions From Readers ***

  • Those among them who manifest a love for righteousness and who do good things for Christ’s brothers out of respect for the fact that they are his spiritual brothers or anointed disciples, are really showing a favorable disposition toward and support of the King Jesus Christ himself. (Matt. 25:34-40) If these persons continue to pursue such a course of action, they will receive lasting benefits, for theirs is the prospect of life everlasting in Jehovah’s promised new order of things.

It's easy to see a lot of things to criticize in these articles quoted above.

  1. For one thing the parable emphasizes the surprise and the lack of knowledge about why it is that these sheep are gaining a reward. But our current view requires moving away from this parable to a different parable to make it seem as though these "sheep" are 100% aware of who Christ's brothers are, and that they are doing this on purpose with full knowledge that they are helping Christ's brothers.
  2. Another thing is that there is no mention of preaching work in the parable, yet the primary method of fulfillment is preaching. (This preaching requires knowledge of the thing heard, and yet the parable highlights their lack of understanding about how, for example, Jesus separates sheep and goats.)
  3. Another is that Jesus spoke of a reward for simply showing small act of kindness with no evident expectation of a reward, but the proper fulfillment supposedly requires not just preaching in support of the anointed, but an ongoing course of action. "If these persons continue to pursue such a course of action, they will receive lasting benefits."
  4. The transition from coming to the assistance of anointed who were literally in prison, and literally hungry and thirsty had to be done carefully, because once it was no longer material support, the focus could not be on the food. The feeding of the "faithful and discreet slave" is the contradiction to the way in which Matthew 24:45 is read, where only the Governing Body feed others now. This illustration confuses that point by having the "other sheep" feeding the hungry Governing Body.
  5. Also note the inaccuracy of statements like: "Ever since Satan was cast down to earth, he has made the remnant a special object of his fury, bringing on them ridicule, torture, and death." If 1914 is true, then this statement may also have been true for another decade or so, when 8 persons went to prison from 1918-1919 and when some were ridiculed for believing in pyramids, and the failed prophecy of 1925. But since then, and even since the Nazi persecution in Germany, it was not primarily the remnant who have been the special object of his fury. The brunt of that has been heaped upon the other sheep. 

More recently there have been some updates to the specifics of the understanding, but it's still a core parable for a discussion of who will be saved:

*** w15 3/15 pp. 25-26 par. 2 Loyally Supporting Christ’s Brothers ***

  • Jehovah’s people have long been intrigued by this illustration and rightly so, for in it Jesus speaks about the fate of people. He reveals why some will receive everlasting life while others will be cut off in death forever. Our lives depend on our understanding the truths Jesus conveyed and acting on them. With so much at stake, we should ask: How has Jehovah progressively clarified our understanding of this illustration? Why can we say that the illustration emphasizes the importance of the preaching work? Who is it that receives the commission to preach? And why is now the time to be loyal to “the King” and to those he calls “my brothers”? . . . The outcome hinges on how they have treated the remaining ones of Christ’s spirit-anointed brothers on earth. With the end of this system so close at hand, how grateful we are that Jehovah has progressively shed light on this illustration and on the related illustrations recorded in Matthew chapters 24 and 25. . . . The illustration of the sheep and the goats shows that the anointed would have help. Therefore, one of the primary ways that those judged to be sheep show kindness to Christ’s brothers is by supporting them in the preaching work. What, though, is involved in providing that support? Does it consist only of material backing and emotional comfort, or is more required? . . . . The growing number of prospective sheep count it a privilege to support Christ’s brothers not only in the preaching work but also in other practical ways. For example, they give financial contributions and help to build Kingdom Halls, Assembly Halls, and branch facilities, and they loyally obey those appointed by “the faithful and discreet slave” to take the lead.

In the current understanding, the changes are mostly about the time when the judgment that distinguishes sheep from goats, which has now been moved to the future instead of saying it happens now as "goats" react badly to our preaching work. The other sheep coming to the aid of the anointed with food, water, clothing, and visitation in prison now refers primarily to the ongoing preaching work by the other sheep, and minimally to "material backing and emotional comfort." And of course, as most of us rarely see or work with any of the anointed, the focus has moved in a greater way to showing loyal obedience to the Governing Body, also known now as the "faithful and discreet slave" who claim to represent the anointed. The implication of all the recent articles is that Christ's brothers, the anointed, also show they are sheep by loyally obeying the Governing Body. But many specific statements are still mostly about the "other sheep" supporting the "faithful and discreet slave" (GB) through loyal obedience, preaching and donations of resources.

These are perfectly legitimate ways to show our appreciation, but it appears not be the scriptural meaning of this particular parable.

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