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Matthew 24. Is the INVISIBLE PAROUSIA doctrine based on less likely, special definitions of SIGN, PAROUSIA, CONCLUSION, LIGHTNING, GENERATION, and "GENTILE TIMES"?

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There seems to be be several ways to read Matthew 24 (and parallel accounts in Mark 13 and Luke 21). This has been noted by many Bible commentaries through the years, and even C. T. Russell admits some things about Matthew 24 that might surprise a lot of Witnesses today.

The primary discussions about Matthew 24 revolve around the question of whether it was ONLY about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., or primarily about the final Great Tribulation on the whole earth, or was it about BOTH judgment events.  (Even if this were primarily about 70 C.E., of course, it would still provide principles to guide Christians in every era and generation, especially about the expectation of the judgment event. -- 2 Tim 3:16; 1 Cor 10:11)

Over the years, the Watchtower has proposed slightly different ways to read Matthew 24, including splitting it up into two and sometimes three parts, where the first part referred pretty much equally to both a "minor" fulfillment on the first-century generation and a "major" fulfillment on the "final" generation that sees the final judgment event. Then, a middle portion of the chapter was often said to be primarily for the first century without direct application to the "final" generation. Then, later parts of the chapter were said to be meant primarily or sometimes ONLY for the final judgment event on the whole world. None of the differences in these variations was very significant in the overall picture, because in general the Watchtower has seen the greater "major" important fulfillment of almost all of Matthew 24 to be tied to the final generation that sees that "parousia" or "presence."

If we assume that the primarily fulfillment of Matthew 24 was intended for the final generation, then the secondary discussion is about whether we have correctly understood what Jesus meant with respect to the sign, the parousia, the conclusion, the generation, etc. So, that's the basic discussion being proposed here: that we look carefully at Matthew 24 and see if we have not perhaps tried to fit unlikely definitions of words so that we could make our specific doctrine fit.

Of course, it is quite proper to look at unlikely definitions of words if the meaning derived becomes the only possible way to understand a passage and the only way in which it properly fits the context and related scriptures. But what if the more likely definitions of each of the words also produces an overall meaning that fits just as well with the context and other scripture? What if accepting the more likely definitions of words in the chapter resulted in an even BETTER fit overall for the rest of the scriptures? What if it were seen that trying to make a doctrine out of the unlikely definitions actually created scriptural contradictions?

What I'd propose is that we try to let scripture explain scripture wherever possible and then try to give an honest appraisal of whether or not our "special definitions" we have infused into the meaning of several words in the chapter really makes more sense than the more common definitions of these words.  We could start with general ideas that we can all agree on (hopefully) and then check those ideas as either more or less likely to fit the ideas created from other parts of the chapter that depend on special definitions. I think this will help us evaluate whether we have built a doctrine upon the more likely or the less likely meaning of the words that Jesus used.

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Sure, I'll be happy to start out. :D

By the end of this discussion we should be able to go through the whole chapter and give a kind of evaluation score to whether we think we have a more likely doctrine or a less likely doctrine. This isn't about whether the meaning we have given a certain idea is impossible, just a way of measuring if the idea is more or less likely.

I'd propose that we have currently been driven to accept a LESS LIKELY definition of the word GENERATION. (Example: "the 1914 generation refers to two groups, where the first group included those whose lifespans overlapped with a second group quite possibly around a point in 1992 or even later, such that we can now add the lifespan of the oldest persons in the second group to the 1914 generation until they might die off in the near future, or perhaps much later, such that the 1914 generation can now include a reference to people born, say in the 1970's or later, living nearly until the year 2050, or even closer to the year 2100.") This has already been discussed elsewhere.

I don't think the definition we give it in the latest Watchtower articles and JW Broadcasting videos is impossible, but it seems very  unlikely. In my experience very few WItnesses will attempt to defend it Biblically. The ones who do make the attempt, have offered scriptures that actually make a much better fit the more common definitions of "generation."  (Exodus 1:6, Genesis 50:23; etc)

Without belaboring the possibility that the current understanding is somehow POSSIBLE, I think almost everyone in the world would agree that it is a LESS LIKELY definition that we are using, than any of the common definitions. (Especially since it can be found in no Bibles, no Bible dictionaries, and no dictionaries.)

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I'll propose one more of the terms to evaluate that we have given a special definition to. It's the term "LIGHTNING."

LIGHTNING

In the development of the "Invisible parousia" doctrine, the Watchtower has offered several different explanations of the meaning of "lightning" in Jesus phrase:

(Matthew 24:27) 27 For just as the lightning comes out of the east and shines over to the west, so the presence [parousia] of the Son of man will be.

(Luke 17:24) 24 For just as lightning flashes from one part of heaven to another part of heaven, so the Son of man will be in his day.

Lightning is one of the most strikingly SUDDEN & VISIBLE phenomenon known to man, and the context of the verse is about how SUDDEN and UNEXPECTED the "parousia" could surprise people.

But early in the years of developing the doctrine of an INVISIBLE PAROUSIA, Bible Students like N H Barbour, B W Keith, and later, C T Russell, knew that none of them had recognized the parousia when it began. No one suddenly understood when it had started. No one spotted it like a flash of lightning when it began. That's because there was an expectation of a sudden, bright and shining event that would start in 1874, but they were confused when it didn't happen. And it may have been a year or more later before it finally dawned on them that maybe they weren't wrong after all, maybe the PAROUSIA really did start in 1874, but it was invisible.

The problem is that they would have to change the meaning of this verse. Here's how C.T.Russell promoted a change in meaning:

1897: Studies in the Scriptures, The Battle of Armageddon, was one of several places that changed it from "lightning" to "the Sun" which fit the theme of "millennial dawn" a little better. The bracketed words are in the original:

"The Sun of Righteousness Shall Arise"

"Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: or behold he is in the secret chamber; believe it not. For as the bright-shiner [the Sun] cometh out of the East and shineth even unto the West, so shall also the presence [Greek parousia] of the Son of Man be." Matt. 24:26,27. 

Here's how this was explained in the Watch Tower, in May 1914, p.5656 reprints, "Messiah's Kingdom To Be Invisible"

"As the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, and shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of Man be in His Day."

This astounding statement is better understood when we translate the Greek noun astrape as "shining" instead of "lightning"; for evidently it refers to the sun, which rises in the east and sets in the west, shining out of the one part of the heaven even unto the other. But how will this represent the Son of Man in His Day? How will He be like the sun? We answer that the Day of Christ is a thousand-year Day, the Millennium; and our Lord's statement was one of the "dark sayings" of which Jesus said, "I have many things to tell you, but ye cannot bear them now," and promised that in due time the Holy Spirit would grant them an enlightenment, that all of His words might be clearly understood. This portion, now due to be understood, is therefore becoming clear to those of spiritual discernment. Then, that they might gradually learn that these things belonged to a distant time . . .

So by changing the meaning of the word, they didn't really have to explain why it took them so long for their spiritual insight to allow them to see, only after the fact,  that the parousia really had begun in 1874.

In answer to a letter from 1949, the Watchtower explained that this was changed (actual change was in 1934, but this in 1950 added an additional idea) as follows:

*** w50 8/1 p. 239 Letters ***
The book “The Time Is at Hand”, published in 1889, explained the Greek word “astrapé” in Matthew 24:27 to mean the sun as the ‘bright shiner’, because there Jesus mentioned the “astrapé” as coming out of the east and shining even to the west. (See said book at pages 155-157.) However, never in sacred Scripture nor in classical Greek literature is “astrapé” used to refer to the sun of our solar system. At Luke 17:24 Jesus makes a parallel statement, but does not designate any particular direction from which the lightning flashes, saying: “As the lightning [astrapé], that lighteneth [verb astrápto] out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.” Notice that expression “under heaven”, which befits lightning which occurs under the sun in the heavens obscured by the clouds.

The Sun was an extremely unlikely translation of the word for lightning, and this article admitted further down that it was wrong and had no basis. The part quoted above also shows that Russell had forgotten to consider parallel verses in Luke and several other scriptures. The parallel in Luke will also be impportant for another reason. Note from above, near the beginning of this post, that the expression in Matthew "parousia of the Son of man" is paralleled with "the Son of man in his day." It's just another of many indicators that the parousia is less likely to refer to the entire "generation" of "last days" but that it more likely refers to the final judgment event.

Note that for a time, the idea of associating "lightning" with clouds so that it could be associated with "INVISIBILITY" was attempted.

In the Watchtower, August 15, 1940, p.241 the explanation was also a bit convoluted, because Jesus was still "present" since 1874, but had "come" in 1918, and both anointed and their companions still look to the future for the "manifestation" of his presence:

Jesus' words cannot mean that zigzag lightning comes
always out of the east and shines unto the west and that
this represents his coming. What his words really mean is
that the lightnings come or appear in one part of the heavens
and are seen by persons at different points and that therefore
the lightning is not confined to a local place. It is seen
by those who are watching. The"statement recorded by Luke
concerning the same thing supports this view: "For as the
lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven,
shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the
Son of man be in his day."-Luke l.tf: 24.
Lightning originates with Jehovah, says Jeremiah
10: 13. Just so all light upon the divine purpose originates
with Jehovah. When he reveals his light to his anointed
church he does so through the Head of his organization,
Christ Jesus. No human is able to make lightning. Likewise
no human is able to point to the fact that Christ Jesus is at
some local spot on earth. His presence is revealed to those
of God's anointed remnant and their earthly companions
of good will, all of whom look for the manifestation of his
presence. In Matthew 24: 27, "coming'' specifically refers
to his coming to the temple [in 1918] and his presence there for judgment
of the "house of God", which house is composed of
God's anointed and faithful ones and is not a material house
of brick, wood or stone.

Of the more current explanations given, the most common is based on this idea below:

*** w74 12/15 p. 750 Who Will See “the Sign of the Son of Man”? ***
When Christ would return in an invisible presence he would not come as a man on earth. Therefore Christians should not look for him “in the wilderness,” so that they could train with him in some out-of-the-way place for a revolution. Nor would he be in some secret “inner chambers,” where he could conspire against world governments with his followers. No, his presence was to be like lightning, not in its being instantaneous and unexpected, but in its being seen over a wide area, in the open, for everyone to behold. (Luke 17:24; compare Psalm 97:4.) His followers would not keep their knowledge of his invisible presence secret, but would give it widespread proclamation.—Matt. 10:26, 27.

*** ka chap. 16 pp. 321-322 pars. 61-62 Completion of the Foretold “Sign” Nears ***
61 His presence or parousia was to resemble the lightning as to its effects. His parousia was to be like the lightning, not in flashing suddenly, unexpectedly and in the fraction of a second. The emphasis here is not on the lightning’s striking instantaneously unannounced, but on its shining over a broad area, from eastern parts to western parts. (Luke 17:24) The lightning’s illuminative power is like that described in Psalm 97:4: “His lightnings lighted up the productive land; the earth saw and came to be in severe pains.” So, too, the inhabitants of the earth were not to be left in darkness respecting the parousia of the Son of man. From horizon to horizon all the people were to be enlightened concerning his regal parousia. It was to be made as public as is a flash of lightning by its illuminative power, its far-extended shining. To Christ’s disciples today, who are acquainted with his invisible parousia, his words to his apostles nineteen centuries ago apply:
62 “Therefore do not fear them; for there is nothing covered over that will not become uncovered, and secret that will not become known. What I tell you in the darkness, say in the light; and what you hear whispered, preach from the housetops.”—Matthew 10:26, 27.

So the current explanation continues to work with the idea that Jesus did NOT mention lightning because it is sudden and unexpected. Consider how likely this is when considering the further context. In a recent discussion on Matthew 24 note what someone (Gnosis Pithos) said about the very next paragraph in context:

 

On 7/26/2017 at 8:49 PM, Gnosis Pithos said:

And as in Noah’s time, Jesus judgment will appear as a sudden event in Judgement.

(KJV) Matthew 24:37-39

37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,

39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so, shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

The moral of the story is, People should have been well aware in Noah’s time the purpose of Noah building the ARK just as people today know the purpose of Jesus preaching the gospel of the good news of his impending righteous kingdom, and future judgment. The ONLY similarities between these two events are in “judgment”, it came and will come as a surprise.

It's not impossible that the meaning of "lightning" here refers to the fact that lightning isn't just in one place, but it shines over extended areas. But it's also impossible to avoid the idea of suddenness and surprise in several places throughout the chapter. And it's also impossible to avoid the fact that Jesus had just spoken about those who claimed that Jesus had returned, but that you just couldn't see him. They would say he had returned, but that he wasn't visible at the moment because he was far off somewhere else, or hidden in a room somewhere.

Our current Watchtower explanation is that the "illumination" is given to those with spiritual insight who can then spread the word of his invisible parousia over a wide area. But the previous verses were about claims by those without spiritual insight, and this was the answer to their claims. In other words, the answer to the claim that Jesus might have returned but that he was just not visible was that Jesus parousia would be as visible as lightning. Claims of an invisible presence were therefore going to be false. It would also be bright and sudden and unmistakable as lightning. It would be like the kind of lightning that is visible from one horizon all the way to the other. 

How likely would it be that Jesus was saying that an INVISIBLE PAROUSIA would be just like something as VISIBLE as lightning that covers the entire sky?

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QUICK REVIEW

So, we have these six words or terms from Matthew 24 (Mark 13 & Luke 21) for which we are trying to evaluate whether we have chosen a more likely meaning of the term, or a less likely meaning in order to arrive at the INVISIBLE PAROUSIA doctrine. It might even be possible to trace how some of the terms were apparently forced into their special meaning after the decision was made to declare that the PAROUSIA had indeed already begun.

BACKGROUND

Most of the persons who set dates for the visible return of Christ in the 19th century just stopped setting them as soon as a date didn't pan out. But some had invested so much time and effort into it that this was apparently impossible. Hundreds of thousands paid close attention to the 1843 date set initially by William Miller. When it failed another 1843 date was set, then an 1844 date, and Miller quit setting dates. (Russell would later claim that this showed that Miller was one of the 'foolish virgins whose lamp ran out of oil,' because Miller had given up on setting dates.)

But others who had invested their life and reputation on it waited right up to the last day of 1844. Then, of course, new "adjustments" were discovered that put Jesus return in the 1850's, then the 1860's. But by now there were only tens of thousands paying attention. The typical thing to do was to show your faith by focusing on the very next date, but N H Barbour, after some study and decisions in 1859, decided to skip all those expectations for the mid-1860's and go straight to his 1873 date. (He did not settle on 1874 until 1873 failed.) 

This means that when the 1860's dates failed, Barbour was already set to gain a following for the 1873 date. Less people were setting dates, there were less to choose from that were still based on the Millerite foundation. (Miller himself had mentioned the possibility of the 1870's date, half a century earlier.) When it failed in 1873, Barbour had spent as much of his life as Miller had on these dates. He changed it to 1874, and when that failed he was truly depressed. One of his contributors, B W Keith, went back to some teachings that had been promoted in the 1820's about a two-stage parousia. The first stage would be invisible, and Benjamin Wilson who also believed in a two-stage parousia had published the "Diaglott" as an aid to supporting this idea. (Later the Watch Tower Society--Russell--bought the rights to reprint Benjamin Wilson's Diaglott so that most available copies today have the Watch Tower's name in them.)

Barbour credited Keith with the two-stage idea in his tract ("magazine") and it got Barbour back on track. Barbour spoke about possibly picking up an extra 5,000 of the Second Adventists each month as new subscribers. He fully expected at least 20,000 of the current number of Second Adventists to subscribe. In 1877, Barbour convinced Russell of the urgency of this chronology, because just 3.5 years after the presence had begun, they expected Christ's bride to be changed and to have gone up to heaven in 1878 while "lesser" Christians awaited heaven at a later date. So the Russells sold off most of the assets of their largest company so that Barbour could distribute his tracts and booklets more widely.

When 1878 failed, subscribers dropped, and trouble also broke out between Barbour and Russell. Barbour blamed it on disagreements with Russell about money. Russell blamed it on a doctrinal disagreement. (Russell had "crazy" views about the ransom that are no longer considered valid, and Barbour had his own "crazy" view.)

By mid-1879 Russell had convinced three major contributors to Barbour to come over to his own new magazine. Russell also sent out an offer to all the Barbour subscribers to switch over to the Watch Tower. And it was also timed to pick up the current subscribers of a Second Adventist magazine from California as that magazine was just running out of money and discontinuing. So Russell printed up 8,000 copies of the first July 1879 issue. In 1879, there was still an urgency again for the next major date, because Russell expected the Bride of Christ to be changed in October 1881. (3.5 years plus 3.5 years from October 1874.) Lesser Christians would remain on earth until around 1914, when the Harvest would be complete.

Because of the failure of 1881, the number of subscribers remained low. (8,000 had been an overestimate.) But the book series, Divine Plan of the Ages (1886), The Time is at Hand (1889), and Thy Kingdom Come (1891), were extremely popular, "proving" the 1874 chronology with charts containing pyramids and diagrams, and pointing to great expectations between then and up to 1914.

Everything was invested into this idea of a two-stage parousia that started invisibly in 1874 and would manifest itself most visibly in the years just prior to 1914 (later adjusted to the year and months just following 1914).

----------------

Most people here are probably already generally aware of this background information, but it is difficult to understand why parts of the 1874 chronology lasted nearly 70 years -- until 1943/1944 without this background. (My father remembers believing in 1874, but says they were mostly calling it 1878 just before he was baptized.) It also can help explain why it was easy to just transfer the explanation of Matthew 24 from an 1874 chronology over to a 1914 chronology when that became necessary. It still remained a "two-stage Parousia" in every case.

Will pick up on another one of the terms in the next post.

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Yes, I was about to go straight to the word PAROUSIA as the next term to discuss, and to me this is an easy one. But it is so ingrained as the basis for related teachings that I will save it for later. So, instead:

GENTILE TIMES

The NWT and WT now refer to this term as "Appointed Times of the Nations." based on Luke 21:24. Comparing the KJV and the NWT, the verse read as follows:

Luke 21:24 King James Version (KJV)

24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

NWT (Luke 21:24) 24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.

This discussion probably won't deal so much with Daniel 4 directly, however, there are numerous Biblical problems with using a type/antitype fulfillment that uses a wicked, pagan, Gentile king Nebuchadnezzar and has him stand in for the Jewish Messianic kingdom under Jesus Christ. The beast-like humiliation of Nebuchadnezzar as a lesson for his haughtiness lasts for "seven times" until he is restored to his throne. That moment when he is restored after seven times is supposed to represent how Jesus restored the Messianic kingdom by sitting back down on the throne after seven times. Of course, the beast-like humiliation of a pagan Gentile king as a lesson for haughtiness makes no sense when applied to Jesus' Messianic kingdom. 

But the 1874 chronology that included a 40 year harvest ending in 1914 had failed. For a while the emphasis shifted to a 40 year harvest from 1878 to 1918, but that was not to last either. The Watch Tower Society finally dropped every vestige of the 1874 chronology and went back to this secondary method of reaching the date 1914. They simply noticed that if you work backwards and count 2,520 years from 1914 you will reach 606 BC, so this date 606 became the new date for the fall of the Jewish Messianic kingdom. It didn't matter that there was absolutely ZERO evidence for Jerusalem being destroyed in that year, but it appeared to be only about 20 years off, so that was considered close enough. It had already been one of the evidences that Barbour had used prior to Russell, although both of them considered other evidence to be better. In 1876, Russell had used Leviticus as the primary scripture for claiming the Gentiles would chastise the Jews for seven times, and he tied the mention of 7 times in Daniel 4 as a support of the scripture in Leviticus:

(Leviticus 26:28) . . .and I myself will have to chastise you seven times for your sins. . .

Later it was noticed that this verse in Leviticus wasn't really about seven periods of time, so the WTS now pinned everything on Daniel 4 (without Leviticus) and it became the new primary support for 1914. We simply said that the 7 times means 7 years, and that 7 years are made up of 2,520 "prophetic" days using 360 days to a year, and 2,520 "prophetic" days must  be thought of as 2,520 solar years (of 365.25 days each). We then say Nebuchadnezzar represented the Messianic kingdom. And, of course, we also needed to start a pseudo-chronology that pretended it was possible to move Jerusalem's destruction by Nebuchadnezzar back 20 years from where all the evidence pointed, so that 2,520 years would land on 1914.

The WTS once claimed that there were about 10 different threads of evidence that all pointed to 1914, and all but one of these came through the date 1874 and added 40 years. The date 1914 now hangs by only this one single thread now based solely on a dream about Nebuchadnezzar's 7 time periods of insanity.

------------

The above is worded truthfully, but clearly in a way that makes it seem unlikely to have been correct. But I'm not trying to say it is impossible. This is just an exercise to see if we have assigned the most likely meaning to it. So is there any way to check ourselves against other scriptures and see if we picked the most likely time period?

Turns out there are at least two scriptures to help here.

One is the verse itself. Note that Luke 21:24 says that they "WILL FALL by the edge of the sword and Jerusalem WILL BE TRAMPLED on by the nations UNTIL the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled."

Note that this action of Jerusalem falling by the edge of the sword is is in the future, and it is directly connected to the trampling that is also placed in the future. We know from history that Jerusalem fell by the edge of the sword in 70 CE, and that Jerusalem was therefore and thereby trampled on by the nations.

The Watch Tower publications have a different view of this scripture. It is understood by the WTS to mean that Jerusalem will continue to be trampled on by the nations from 676 years prior to 70 CE and for another 1844 years after 70 (until 1914). But, if that was true --and important-- why didn't Jesus use the proper tense. Both Aramaic and koine Greek have tenses that cover ongoing action as opposed to simple future action.

Discussions of specific language and tense cannot be definitive, however. There may always be more than one way to read something, and our only goal here is to find evidence for what is likely.

There is another verse however that gives us an indication of an actual time period to attach to these "appointed times of the nations."

When Jesus said "and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled" it would have been nice if he replaced those "times" with an actual amount of time. That would surely get us on the right track. In other words what if Jesus had said

: "the nations, they will trample on Jerusalem until seven times are fulfilled."

or since "seven times" are the same as "seven years" and therefore 2,520 days, we would even accept:

"the nations, they will trample on Jerusalem, the holy city, until 2,520 days are fulfilled"

Or since 2520 days is the same as 84 months of 30 days each, we would accept:

"the nations, they will trample on the holy city for 84 months."

Well, as most of already know, Jesus actually did say something like that when he gave the Revelation to John, and this should clear up why we attach a length of "seven times" to the "times of the nations." In Revelation 11:2, Jesus says:


(Revelation 11:2) . . .the nations, and they will trample the holy city underfoot for 42 months.

Imagine the joy that the Watchtower Society must have felt when it was discovered that Jesus himself had attached a time period to the Gentile Times, and thus cleared up any question about the whether or not it was "likely" that the Gentile Times were actually 84 months long as the Watchtower claims! (84 x 30 = 2520)

In fact, this scripture was the basis for so many Bible chronologists attaching a length of 42 months, or 1,260 days to the Gentile Times. Many of those commentators, especially the ones in the 19th century, therefore attached a period of 1,260 years to the Gentile Times. This included John Aquila Brown, about whom the Watch Tower publications said the following:

*** jv chap. 10 p. 134 Growing in Accurate Knowledge of the Truth ***
As early as 1823, John A. Brown, whose work was published in London, England, calculated the “seven times” of Daniel chapter 4 to be 2,520 years in length. But he did not clearly discern the date with which the prophetic time period began or when it would end. He did, however, connect these “seven times” with the Gentile Times of Luke 21:24. In 1844, E. B. Elliott, a British clergyman, drew attention to 1914 as a possible date for the end of the “seven times” of Daniel, but he also set out an alternate view that pointed to the time of the French Revolution. Robert Seeley, of London, in 1849, handled the matter in a similar manner. At least by 1870, a publication edited by Joseph Seiss and associates and printed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was setting out calculations that pointed to 1914 as a significant date, even though the reasoning it contained was based on chronology that C. T. Russell later rejected.

These statements contain some misleading and false ideas buried within them. For example, John Aquila Brown did not clearly discern the date with which the prophetic time period began or when it ended. Did Russell clearly discern the beginning and end dates of the period? Russell vacillated between 606 and 607 and finally decided it must be 606 for the beginning --- even though he was about 20 years off from the evidence. Russell vacillated between 1914 and 1915 for the end date, then even indicated that he was willing to dismiss the whole chronology as potentially laughable for a time, and finally came back to 1914 and 1915 after he saw the Great War begin in 1914.

The Proclaimer's book also says that "He [Brown] did, however, connect these "seven times" with the Gentile Times of Luke 21:24."

That statement is absolutely false. Brown always denied any connection between the "seven times" of Daniel with the "Gentile Times" of Luke 21:24. And that's at least partially based on the fact that he knew that Revelation 11:2 had already attached a different time period to the Gentile Times of Luke 21:24.

There are a lot of other funny or ironic claims and ideas to look into from this section of the book. This happens whenever someone tries to present a partially cleaned up history of their own chronology beliefs that already failed in the past.

Even the very definition given to the term "Gentile Times" failed in 1914. And that's the main point of what this discussion is looking for. It was the very meaning that the Watch Tower publications had given to the term Gentile Times that was tied to all the expectations that 1914 and 1915 would bring. All 100% of those expectations failed, and therefore the definition given to term "Gentile Times" must also be considered unlikely.

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I think a debate about this does not serve any purpose because there are many other scriptures in the bible that supports an invisible rule from heaven.  Why would we need SIGNS if it were visible?  The signs are an indication that something has happened that we have not seen but has had an effect on earth.  REV 12: 7-12 gives a good indication that the Kingdom was established in heaven (invisible to human eyes) and authority was given to Christ.  There is a war and Satan and his demons cast out.  We cannot see demons can we?   They are cast out to the earth and it laments the effects this event will have on the earth which will be a clear sign that we are in the final days of human rule. "Short time left" indicates this.

The illustration of a pregnant lady puts it clearly..... we can see the signs that she is pregnant (big bump) and we know the birth is eminent .... close ...... but we do not know the hour.     Similar to the 'signs' on earth....we are in the ninth month -  but the day and hour will come suddenly. 

In the past the governing body have gone into great detail to explain every little nuance - but we have heard so many times in the past few years that they are sticking to the broader lines of each illustration.  Similarly - we need to read all the scriptures connected to this time together and let them explain each other.  I do not think that going in the past history of the governing body and the detailed versions ( which was part of those historical times) to cloud our vision at this time.  I do not care about the word "Parousia" there are enough other scriptures in the  bible which indicates that it will be invisible.  

Jesus said there will be many false Christs appearing or rumors of this.  Why?  because Muslim and Christendom are expecting Jesus/Isa to come in the flesh as a ruler or fight with a sword..... " If possible to corrupt the true disciples."....Jesus will not come in the flesh and his armies will be the angels - not humans.  Humans will physically kill each other and certain "signs" will appear to indicate that Armageddon is here!  The heavenly angels will then finish the job of removing the wicked.   I believe that the time of end will be like the time when israel left Egypt - Jehovah will "prove to be"  by his deeds and signs just like he used Moses - he will again use faithful servants to bring the message and support his people in this time to do the job. Noah was a preacher until the end.   This preaching work in the entire world is part of the 'sign' of the time of the end.  The appearance of a slave who gives spiritual food to the nations 'free' is a sign of the end.  And it asks the question - who is he?  So we must be able to recognize the slave....

Our ruler will be 'invisible' from heaven and the principles which will unite the world (all nations) as one, are principles that are practical and workable (a peaceable ideology- I call Social Studies 101). But only if all in the new world citizens willingly agree to follow these principles and leave their egos behind. No man is to control another or even tell them what to do.... each person to care more for another than for themselves so we all care for each other collectively and the wellbeing of others in respect and principled love.  We do not need a physical ruler if we all follow these principles.  The ruler is already ruling invisibly.... Those who like to lord it over others will NOT be kept alive!  Our shepherds will be loving shepherds.... who care and only provide help and guidance.... no domination whatsoever or "lording" it over others because this trait is a trait out of Satan's book!  All forms of control or dominion has its origins in the ego and will disappear.  Satan had a ego and wanted more attention from humans than he deserved.  

So these Social studies 101 tells me that we will have direct rule from God and his chosen representative in heaven and like a shepherd tends to flocks the "princes" will be humble shepherds who fall under the same invisible rulership.  There are more than enough other scriptures to indicate that Jesus will start ruling amidst his enemies.... 

The time line of the bible is given to us as an indication of how far we are in the stream of time and the purposes of Jehovah to come in fulfillment - like 1914.   The entire bible is a "restoration project of the earth." and Jehovah has been silently working to come to the point where his legal ruler will start ruling and bring his purposes to fulfillment.  Each individual can choose if they want to be part of it - or NOT.

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Thanks @Arauna for the comments. I agree that the SIGN is an important part of this discussion, and as you say there may be evidence for INVISIBILITY that we haven't considered here yet. I think all of this is important so that we can have a comprehensive view and understanding of our own beliefs : (1 Peter 3:15) ". . .always ready to make a defense before everyone who demands of you a reason . . . ."

I'd love to get to those other points you made right away, especially the topic of "the SIGN."  Just before that, I hoped to cover the term:

CONCLUSION (pt. 1 of 2)

The NWT uses the word "conclusion" to translate the Greek word: "SYNTELEIA" as the way to distinguish it from "TELOS" which means "END."

(Matthew 24:3) While he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion [synteleia] of the system of things?”

However, technically, TELOS can also be translated as "conclusion" not just "end:"

Strong's #5056: telos (pronounced tel'-os) from a primary tello (to set out for a definite point or goal); properly, the point aimed at as a limit, i.e. (by implication) the conclusion of an act or state

and SYNTELEIA can also be translated as "end" not just "conclusion:"

Strong's #4930 syntéleiaσυντέλεια (pronounced soon-tel'-i-ah); entire completion, i.e. consummation (of a dispensation):—end. (

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and other online sources.) 

Many translations of the Bible translate the word SYNTELEIA as END rather than "conclusion." Does it make a difference? The Bible Hub source includes the following note:

[The KJV is misleading by rendering

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(syntéleia) as "the end of the world" (i.e. when it occurs with aiōn, "age/epoch"). This expression actually means "at the "consummation of the age," i.e. when it reaches its intended climax (consummated conclusion).]

Initially, when the 1950 NWT came out, SYNTELEIA was translated "consummation".

(Matthew 24:3, NW 1950) “What will be the sign of your presence and of the consummation of the system of things?”

Since "presence" already covered the potentially long period, it was not that much of a concern to prove whether "consummation" referred to just the final end or ran completely parallel with the "presence."

And of course, the WTS later chose the word "conclusion" in support of the potentially long time period, as opposed to a "final end" which the WTS concludes that only "TELOS" refers to. Here are the current Watch Tower's study notes on Matthew 24:3. Note that the NWT "renders" the word from a meaning that does not specifically focus on a drawn-out conclusion.

*** nwtsty Matthew Study Notes—Chapter 24 ***
conclusion: Rendered from the Greek word syn·teʹlei·a, meaning “joint end; combination end; ending together.” (Mt 13:39, 40, 49; 28:20; Heb 9:26) This refers to a time period during which a combination of events would lead to the complete “end” mentioned at Mt 24:6, 14, where a different Greek word, teʹlos, is used.—See study notes on Mt 24:6, 14 and Glossary, “Conclusion of the system of things.”

And a 2008 Watchtower on the subject adds this:

*** w08 2/15 p. 21 par. 2 Christ’s Presence—What Does It Mean to You? ***
2 To take the second expression first, consider the term “conclusion,” the translation of the Greek word syn·teʹlei·a. In the New World Translation, this word is consistently rendered “conclusion,” whereas a related Greek word, te’los, is translated “end.” The difference in the meaning of these two words can be illustrated by describing a talk given at the Kingdom Hall. The conclusion of the talk is the last section, in which the speaker spends a little time reminding the audience of what he has been discussing and then shows how that information applies to them. The end of the talk is when the speaker walks off the platform. In a similar way, Biblically speaking, the term “the conclusion of the system of things” refers to the period of time leading up to and including its end.

In common speech, of course, there is sometimes a bit of overlap and interchangeability in the use of these two words, as in:

  • "At the conclusion of his talk, he walked off the stage." "At the end of his talk, he walked off the stage."
  • "The book starts to get really exciting at the end." "The book starts to get really exciting at the conclusion."
  • "This is an end-of-year sales event." "This is a conclusion-of-year sales event."

But it's still true that the temporal sense of the English words "end" and "conclusion" usually do match the idea in the 2008 Watchtower. So does this mean that we have made use of the most likely meaning of "synteleia"? Just because we have made a proper illustration of the difference between the English words, does not mean we have translated correctly from the koine Greek in Matthew 24. 

Remember that the Watchtower has long proposed that "PAROUSIA" is not a judgment event but a time period that lasts longer than 100 years, possibly even as much as 150 or 200 years. And because this idea of a long time period already makes sense to us, then translating SYNTELEIA as "conclusion" also makes sense. After PAROUSIA was re-defined away from the traditional definitions, we really seemed to have no choice but to also re-define SYNTELEIA away from the traditional definitions.

*** w08 2/15 p. 22 par. 3 Christ’s Presence—What Does It Mean to You? ***
It could be said that the period constituting “the conclusion of the system of things” (syn·teʹlei·a) corresponds to or runs parallel with the period called Christ’s presence (pa·rou·siʹa).

But here's the problem. (Actually the bigger problem is that it's very easy to show that Parousia refers to a final judgment event, but we have put off that discussion until later.) The problem in front of us now, is that both the Greek word parousia and the Greek word synteleia were BOTH being used as terms that referred to a final judgment event, rather than a long time period.

Not only that, but the term SYNTELEIA might have been an even more consistent reference to a final, system-consummating "END EVENT" than the word "TELOS."

(1 Peter 1:20) . . .True, he was foreknown before the founding of the world, but he was made manifest at the end [telos] of the times for the sake of you.

Not that TELOS should ever generally refer to a long drawn-out period of time either, but that even if TELOS refers to the final end part of the conclusion of the system, SYN-TELOS (synteleia) could be an even more emphatic reference to the END event, especially in the context of Matthew 24.

If SYNTELEIA can mean "ending together" or "end of all things together" as a way to emphasize the TELOS it could be the reason that 1 Peter uses the phrase:

(1 Peter 4:7) 7 But the end of all things has drawn close.. . . [uses TELOS]

In the context of Matthew 24, it's not hard to understand why the disciples are depicted as using the idea of SYNTELEIA.

Remember that the disciples could not have been asking for a sign of an INVISIBLE presence because they were only asking about a sign to warn them in time for something visible: the event that would knock down all the stones of the Temple. The Watchtower admits this idea, too:

*** w96 8/15 p. 13 par. 19 Jesus’ Coming or Jesus’ Presence—Which? ***
Even if the apostles had in mind simply the idea of Jesus’ future arrival, Christ may have used bi·ʼahʹ to allow for more than what they were thinking.

*** w92 10/1 p. 16 par. 8 The Messiah’s Presence and His Rule ***
He gave one such illustration as part of his answer to his apostles’ question about when his pa·rou·siʹa would begin; another he gave because “they were imagining that the kingdom of God was going to display itself instantly.”

If they thought it would DISPLAY ITSELF instantly, then they could only use an advance warning sign, not a set of ongoing signs to help them identify when they were in the middle of an invisible presence. Signs like that wouldn't tell them anything about when the Temple would be destroyed.

*** w64 9/15 p. 575 Questions From Readers ***
At Matthew 24:3, when Jesus’ disciples asked him about the “sign” of his presence, what did they have in mind, since later events show that they did not at that time understand that it would be an invisible presence? . . . [Answer]. . . But not yet having received holy spirit, they did not appreciate that he would not sit on an earthly throne; they had no idea that he would rule as a glorious spirit from the heavens and therefore did not know that his second presence would be invisible

If they had no idea about an invisible presence, or a long drawn out period of time, then why does the WTS conclude that they must have used words that contained this meaning. Why do we point out that both of these words referred to an extended period of time?

*** w08 2/15 p. 22 par. 4 Christ’s Presence—What Does It Mean to You? ***
The fact that the word pa·rou·siʹa refers to an extended period of time harmonizes with what Jesus said with regard to his presence.

In fact, it's easy to show that it was not only illogical, but very unlikely that the disciples chose terms that referred to an extended period of time. But this post is a bit long already, so this topic will be split into two parts.

 

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Very interesting so far JWInsider. Enjoying reading your analysis.

I got into a discussion once with a "Bible Student" and he wanted to know the difference between Christ's coming (to execute final judgement) and his parousia (the invisible extended period of time prior to that). He said it was one and the same thing. It does get kind of confusing when Jesus apparently "came" in 1918...

I'm sure you are aware of the July 2013 WT, where the writers attempted to explain the new understanding.  (I realise this is bringing another element into the equation, namely the faithful and discreet slave)

16 Regarding the faithful and discreet slave, Jesus says: “Happy is that slave if his master on arriving [“having come,” ftn.] finds him doing so.” In the parable of the virgins, Jesus states: “While they were going off to buy, the bridegroom arrived [“came,” Kingdom Interlinear].” In the parable of the talents, Jesus relates: “After a long time the master of those slaves came.” In the same parable, the master says: “On my arrival [“having come,” Int] I would be receiving what is mine.” (

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) To what time do these four instances of Jesus’ coming refer?

17 In the past, we have stated in our publications that these last four references apply to Jesus’ arriving, or coming, in 1918. As an example, take Jesus’ statement about “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Read

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.) We understood that the “arriving” mentioned in verse 46 was linked to the time when Jesus came to inspect the spiritual condition of the anointed in 1918 and that the appointment of the slave over all the Master’s belongings occurred in 1919. (
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) However, a further consideration of Jesus’ prophecy indicates that an adjustment in our understanding of the timing of certain aspects of Jesus’ prophecy is needed. Why so?

 18 In the verses that lead up to

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, the word “coming” refers consistently to the time when Jesus comes to pronounce and execute judgment during the great tribulation. (
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) Also, as we considered in  
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, Jesus’ ‘arriving’ mentioned at
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refers to that same future time of judgment. So it is reasonable to conclude that Jesus’ arrival to appoint the faithful slave over all his belongings, mentioned at
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, also applies to his future coming, during the great tribulation. 
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Indeed, a consideration of Jesus’ prophecy in its entirety makes it clear that each of these eight references to his coming applies to the future time of judgment during the great tribulation.

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I am looking forward to what your final conclusion is, summarized in just a few paragraphs I hope! xD9_9

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CONCLUSION (pt. 2 of 2)

In part one of this post, it should have already been made clear that the Greek word "SYNTELEIA" might mean more than just a "conclusion" in the common sense of the word. But we haven't really tried to prove it yet. The rendering of "conclusion" was based on the accepted meaning: “joint end; combination end; ending together.”  In that first post, it was claimed that the Greek word parousia and the Greek word synteleia were BOTH used as terms that actually referred to a final judgment event. The Watchtower has commonly claimed that the words do not refer to events so much as the extended period of time of the PAROUSIA which is inferred when they are translated, respectively, as "presence" and "conclusion," as opposed to:

  • parousia: advent/arrival/coming/royal visitation
  • synteleia: consummation/end/ending altogether/final end

So in this part 2 of the post, we'll look at the evidence for claiming that SYNTELEIA refers to more than just a conclusion.

First we should admit that there was a range of use of the word, but we should also point out that the word is RARE in the Greek Scriptures. Except for a single use in Hebrews, all of the other 5 uses are in Matthew, and all of them are in reference to the PAROUSIA, the final judgment event, or the final "return" of Jesus at the end of the system of things. In the Bible, it is NOT a common word that's found in the usual places for just any type of "conclusion." It's used outside the Bible too, and except for a meaning that deals with "taxation" or "taxable dependency" the meanings come much closer to the the idea of a final end than a long drawn-out conclusion. But even in non-religious usage the word had a similar meaning

Note: Here's a quote from Thebes and Boeotia in the Fourth Century B.C., Authors: S.C.Bakhuizen, Source: Phoenix, Vol 48 No 4 (Winter 1994), pp. 307-330.

"The words syntelein and synteleia had a fairly wide range of meanings: as a verb "to finish," "to complete," as a noun "accomplishment," "completion." In a narrow sense they could be accountancy terms. . . "

In my opinion, it fits closer to the idea presented here:

But, while sitting on the Mount of Olives the disciples came to him in a private spot, asking: “Tell us, when will this occur?1 {MK13:4 and the sign when all this will be fulfilled?2} And, what will be the sign3 of your Arrival4 [Daniel 7:22; 12:2] and the complete end5 of the Age?”6 [Daniel 9:26, 27] {LK21:7 “When will this all occur?”7}

5

Complete end: Here the Greek is a heightened form of TELOS (= end), SYNTELEIAS (= with + end). The disciples likely assumed that the destruction of the Temple meant the Return (Presence) or Arrival of Christ and therefore “the end of the world” as they knew it. . . . This is a word that only occurred once before in the Nazarene’s parable of wheat and tares at Matthew 13:40. However, note this word occurs in the Jewish Greek Bible (LXX) at Daniel 9:27 in the context of Jerusalem’s foretold ‘desolation.’ Compare also Hebrews 9:26 where SYNTELEIA is used with regard to the First Coming of Christ in the “last days” of the Jewish Age (Hebrews 1:1; Acts 2:17; Jude 18; 1 Corinthians 10:11). Judging from Jesus’ admission that he does not ‘know the day and hour’ (Matthew 24:36) there is no way the Nazarene could tell his disciples about the date of “the complete end” or SYNTELEIAS.

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To see if this idea is true, we should know the range of possible meanings in the Biblical contexts, and we should look at how it was used in as many related sources as we can. Obviously the Bible book of Matthew itself is important, along with Biblical contexts such as the translation of the OT in the LXX, and how it was used in Jewish religious literature known at the time, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and various apocalyptic writings.

The Bible's use of the word in Matthew is as follows: (Matthew is the only gospel account to use the word synteleia, and also the only gospel to use the word parousia.)

(Matthew 13:39-43,49) 39 . . . The harvest is a conclusion [synteleia] of a system of things, and the reapers are angels. 40 Therefore, just as the weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be in the conclusion [synteleia] of the system of things. 41 The Son of man will send his angels, and they will collect out from his Kingdom all things that cause stumbling and people who practice lawlessness, 42 and they will pitch them into the fiery furnace. There is where their weeping and the gnashing of their teeth will be. 43 At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.. . .49 That is how it will be in the conclusion [synteleia] of the system of things. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from among the righteous 50 and will cast them into the fiery furnace.

In the Watch Tower publications, the "harvest" is often referred to as an extended period of time, a process that has been occurring over the last 100-plus years and may go on for another 50 to 100 years based on the current definitions presented in the Watchtower. The harvest, per our publications, has continued even while seed-planting and growing continue to occur over these same 100-plus years. But those who have ever actually harvested a field of wheat know that this is more of an event. No one continues to plant and water during the harvest.  Yet, this is how the WTS must describe it:

*** kr chap. 9 p. 88 par. 6 Results of Preaching—“The Fields . . . Are White for Harvesting” ***
“The harvest is a conclusion of a system of things.” Thus, the harvest season and the conclusion of this system of things began at the same time—in 1914.

Paying close attention to the wording in Matthew 13, we actually find terms applied to the synteleia and parousia that the Watchtower typically applies to the "manifestation" or "revelation" of Jesus Christ, but we'll get to that under the topic of parousia. Another place where a similar point is made is in James, and we'll include it here because we have just seen how Jesus says that the "harvest" is a SYNTELEIA:

(James 5:7, 8) 7 Be patient then, brothers, until the presence [PAROUSIA] of the Lord. Look! The farmer keeps waiting for the precious fruit of the earth, exercising patience over it until the early rain and the late rain arrive. 8 You too exercise patience; make your hearts firm, because the presence [PAROUSIA] of the Lord has drawn close.

Notice, that in James, the PAROUSIA hadn't started yet. Christians, however, live with the imminence of the PAROUSIA always in mind. But it had drawn close, not because of any SIGNS James had seen, but because this is how Christians in all ages should live. The point here is that in the analogy of the harvest, patience is needed during the growing season, and there was no need for patience after the parousia, but only UNTIL the parousia. We need patience because the "presence" has drawn close, but do not need patience when the parousia is here. 

In fact, Matthew's only other use of "SYNTELEIA" produces the same kind of problem for the Watch Tower publications that James produces:

(Matthew 28:20) . . .And look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion [SYNTELEIA] of the system of things.”

These are the last words of the entire book of Matthew. (And outside of Matthew, the term SYNTELEIA is only used in one other place, which we'll get to later.) The resurrected Jesus, here says that he will be present from that point in 33 CE until the SYNTELEIA. If the synteleia began in 1914, then Jesus would only be present with his disciples from 33 CE and until 1914.

COMMENTARY SOURCES

Keener's Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew points out three commentaries that attempt a distinction between synteleia and telos, in which the synteleia can include the great tribulation for example, and telos refers to the final end. But he gives reasons to conclude the following on page 563:

Grammatically the coming and close of the age are linked by the single sign and represent a single question. . . . But despite the intentional connection between 24:6 and 14, synteleia and telos are interchangeable in this discourse.

NON-CANONICAL books of Jewish Literature

Jewish apocalyptic literature, in Greek, was common and well-known among Jewish people, and became especially salient as Rome continued pushing its own agenda through mean-spirited governors, collaborating kings (Herod), compromising Jewish sects (Sadducees), and the Jewish revolutionaries endangering all of them by standing up to Rome.

For example, 2 Baruch speaks of the 12 good and bad [rivers of] waters that flowed through Zion and he finally reaches the discussion of the 11th water which was their current time period after Babylon had destroyed, and awaiting the 12th which is the age to come (Example: the "bright" 8th water was the good King Hezekiah standing up to Sennacherib, the "black" 9th water was the time of wicked King Manasseh, the "bright" 10th water was good King Josiah.) Under the heading of the 11th waters 2 Baruch says:

67: . . .That Zion was so delivered up, And that lo! the Gentiles boast in their hearts, And assemble before their idols and say, "She is trodden down. . ." . . .  Yet after these things shall the dispersed among the Gentiles be taken hold of by tribulation, . . .

[Note that If Jesus had alluded to this, then his listeners might have been reminded that the time of the Gentiles trodding down Zion actually could have started back in 587 BCE +-20yrs. Luke offers no support for this idea however. ]

About the 12th waters, 2 Baruch says, in chapters 68-74, that the SYNTELEIA comes after all the expected SIGNS:

68: 2 For after these things time will come when your people shall fall into distress, so that they shall all run the risk of perishing together. 3 Nevertheless, they will be saved, . . .  4 And they will have in (due) time much joy. . . .  7 But it will come to pass after these things that there will be the fall of many nations. . . . 70 . . .2 Behold! the days come, and it shall be when the time of the age has ripened, And the harvest of its evil and good seeds has come, That the Mighty One will bring upon the earth and its inhabitants and upon its rulers perturbation of spirit and stupor of heart. And they shall hate one another, And provoke one another to fight, . . .6  And when those things which were predicted have come to pass, Then shall confusion fall upon all men, And some of them shall fall in battle, And some of them shall perish in anguish, 7 And some of them shall be destroyed by their own. Then the Most High peoples whom He has prepared before,

And they shall come and make war with the leaders that shall then be left.

8        And it shall come to pass that whoever gets safe out of the war shall die in the earthquake,

And whoever gets safe out of the earthquake shall be burned by the fire,

And whoever gets safe out of the fire shall be destroyed by famine.

9 [And it shall come to pass that whoever of the victors and the vanquished gets safe out of and escapes all these things aforesaid will be delivered into the hands of My servant Messiah.] . . . 71 1 And the holy land shall have mercy on its own, And it shall protect its inhabitants at that time. . . 72 'Hear now also regarding the bright lightning which is to come at the consummation [SYNTELEIA] after these . . . 2 After the signs have come, of which you were told before, when the nations become turbulent, and the time of My Messiah is come, he shall both summon all the nations, and some of them he shall spare, and some of them he shall slay. . . . 4 Every nation, which knows not Israel and has not trodden down the seed of Jacob, shall indeed be spared. . . . 73 1 And it shall come to pass, when He has brought low everything that is in the world,   And has sat down in peace for the age on the throne of His kingdom, That joy shall then be revealed, And rest shall appear. . . . And anxiety and anguish and lamentation pass from amongst men, And gladness proceed through the whole earth. . . .  And asps and dragons shall come forth from their holes to submit themselves to a little child.  7 And women shall no longer then have pain when they bear, Nor shall they suffer torment when they yield the fruit of the womb. 74 1 And it shall come to pass in those days that the reapers shall not grow weary, Nor those that build be toil-worn; For the works shall of themselves speedily advance Together with those who do them in much tranquility. 2 For that time is the consummation [SYNTELEIA] of that which is corruptible, And the beginning of that which is not corruptible.

There are others, but I already quoted this one with too much length for context.

Also, we have the LXX which gives us several examples of the types of phrases and contexts where the translators thought it appropriate to translate certain Hebrew words with the Greek word SYNTELEIA.

An overview of the uses of SYNTELEIA that we are interested in is found in the following work, also partially available on Google Books at the link given.

Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Abridged in One Volume edited by Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, page 1163:

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synteleia.

  1. Outside the Bible this word means “common accomplishment” (also “taxes”), “cooperation,” “execution,” “completion,” “conclusion”.
  2. In the LXX it has such varied senses as “execution,” “totality,” “satiety,” “fulfillment,” “conclusion,” “cessation” and “destruction.”
  3. In Daniel LXX it is a technical term for the eschatological “end” (cf. 11:35, 12:4), though it may also mean “end” in a more general sense (9:26). It is a technical apocalyptic term in the Testaments of the Twelve, sometimes with the thought of “completion”.
  4. Qumram [Dead Sea Scrolls] has a reference to the “end” of time.
  5. The NT uses the term only in eschatological sayings….In Matthew the phrase “end of the age”  . . . refers to events that have yet to take place, including the judgment.
  6. Of the apostolic fathers, only Hermas uses synteleia (the “end”). The apologist Tatian uses it in the context of resurrection and judgment.

Another evidence for SYNTELEIA meaning a "final end" is the verb form of the word SYNTELEO, which is always used in the Greek Scriptures in the sense of "final completion," including the LXX.

Strong's Dictionary indicates the following definitions:

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  1. to end together or at the same time

  2. to end completely

    1. bring to an end, finish, complete

  3. to accomplish, bring to fulfilment

    1. to come to pass

  4. to effect, make, (conclude)

  5. to finish

    1. to make an end of

    2. to bring to an end

    3. destroy

 

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Hi @JW Insider I appreciate your thoughtful research. You make a lot of compelling points that Jesus Christ's presence will not be invisible but an undeniably visible event to all. This appears to conflict with the WT's doctrine of an "invisible presence" of Jesus Christ in 1914. 

My question is this: How does the idea of a future, visible coming of Christ harmonize with our religion's current understanding of the faithful and discreet slave? It says at Matthew 24:45-46, "Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on coming finds him doing so!" 

In the scriptures, it indicates that Jesus Christ appoints a slave before his coming. So, if Jesus Christ presence has possibly not yet begun (because there is no "lightning" sign), would it still be logical to conclude that Jesus Christ appointed Br. Russell and the men to follow as a slave over his temple? Because this appointment scripturally comes before his "coming" anyway.

 

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4 hours ago, Noble Berean said:

This appears to conflict with the WT's doctrine of an "invisible presence" of Jesus Christ in 1914. 

My question is this: How does the idea of a future, visible coming of Christ harmonize with our religion's current understanding of the faithful and discreet slave? It says at Matthew 24:45-46, "Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on coming finds him doing so!"

I did not intend for this topic to cover that particular doctrine, but you and @Anna have both brought it up already, I don't mind. I've stated views on that before.

Before getting into that sub-topic, I'd like to clarify a few points:

First, I think it might need to be repeated that I am not making a statement that we are wrong about this 1914 doctrine. I personally believe we are wrong, and I have no doubt about that, and I have known many brothers in positions of responsibility who believed we were wrong about it. However, I know less persons in that situation now than I ever have in the past, especially since about 1978 to 1982 when I worked directly with and for fellow Bethelites. Also, even if I can see places where we are and have been wrong, it doesn't mean that I have a solution. What looks like a solution to me, might be completely wrong, too. Also, even if I have no doubt about the teaching, that doesn't make me right, and it doesn't mean people should accept my word for it.

My point here is to clarify what I believe about this particular position in light of 1 Peter 3:15. By clarifying it, I have a chance to hear from others who have valid critiques about what I have presented. And I also believe that if I share in the things I have learned that it provides a chance for others to understand the situation better if they are confused. Also it is never right, in my opinion, to hold to a belief that we aren't willing to share if asked. And where I have missed something, of course, I have a much better chance at learning about a correction. No one should hold to their belief system in darkness.

(Matthew 10:26, 27) 26 So do not fear them, for there is nothing covered over that will not become uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27 What I tell you in the darkness, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, preach from the housetops.

(Mark 4:22) 22 For there is nothing hidden except for the purpose of being exposed; nothing has become carefully concealed but for the purpose of coming into the open.

(Luke 11:35, 36) 35 Be alert, therefore. Perhaps the light that is in you is darkness. 36 Therefore, if your whole body is bright with no part at all dark, it will all be as bright as when a lamp gives you light by its rays.”

(Luke 12:2-3) 2 But there is nothing carefully concealed that will not be revealed, and nothing secret that will not become known. 3 Therefore, whatever you say in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you whisper in private rooms will be preached from the housetops.

(John 3:20, 21) 20 For whoever practices vile things hates the light and does not come to the light, so that his works may not be reproved. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light,. . .

Also, another point I have repeatedly tried to point out is that I see no need to leave the organization, or in any way leave our Christian brotherhood over some variation in some non-core doctrinal beliefs. Of course, for those who conscientiously believe that 1914 is a core doctrinal belief, then that's is a different story for them, and those persons should merely treat what I say as irrelevant and not worth considering. And that's what persons will do by default. So I understand the clamor about apostasy and danger, and even the subtle counsel about the same, and therefore don't push back when this type of information is merely dismissed. If a person cannot conscientiously consider an alternative to the current official teaching, then that is our Christian prerogative -- for all of us.

(Of course, if a person asks serious questions, no matter what their motive is, or if persons use unscriptural reasoning to try to overturn scriptural reasoning, then I would consider it a duty to defend what I think is the Bible's position, as best I can. This will often give the appearance to others of debates about words, lack of humility, etc., but that's a charge we sometimes have to live with if we are trying to defend our beliefs, and stand up for what we think is right.)

Another thing I've said before is that, for me, and I hope also for others, if they see the same points in the scriptures that were presented above, that this shouldn't really change much. Whether the parousia, synteleia, kingdom, last days, etc, actually started specifically in 1914 or not, it shouldn't matter to the way we live our lives and our service to Jehovah. According to the Bible, we still see ourselves in the last days, we still appreciate the presence of Jesus, we still believe in the imminence of the manifestation or "coming" of Jesus Christ in his day of judgment. We still remain watchful so that our conduct befits our faith in the parousia. We still have faith that Jesus is reigning as king, and is currently ruling in the midst of his enemies. We still see the preaching of the good news of the kingdom as an activity of primary importance for our day. We do not live for a date, and do still do not claim to know the day or the hour. Nothing that is core about our lives and activities and conduct as a Witness needs to be contradicted by anything said in the Bible about the times we are living in.

------------------------

Sorry for the length of that preamble, but it ties directly to the teaching about Matthew 24:45-46. I don't see how a difference in understanding about the timing of Matthew 24, or a different view of the general message of Matthew 24 contradicts the need for a governing body. And I think that a governing body, in the sense that we generally accept them, is 100% applicable to the parable of Matthew 24:45-51. 

The reason I say this is that the Bible directly speaks of the need for a body of elders in the congregation. This can have just as much application to the overall worldwide congregation as it may have for any local congregation. In fact, the Bible speaks of various activities that were coordinated among several congregations.

(Galatians 2:9, 10) . . .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. 10 They asked only that we keep the poor in mind, and this I have also earnestly endeavored to do.

(1 Corinthians 16:1-4) 16 Now concerning the collection for the holy ones, you may follow the directions I gave to the congregations of Ga·laʹti·a. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you should set something aside according to his own means, so that collections will not take place when I arrive. 3 But when I get there, I will send the men you approve of in your letters to take your kind gift to Jerusalem. 4 However, if it seems advisable for me to go there also, they will go there with me.

(Colossians 4:15, 16) . . .Give my greetings to the brothers in La·o·di·ceʹa and to Nymʹpha and to the congregation at her house. 16 And when this letter has been read among you, arrange for it also to be read in the congregation of the La·o·di·ceʹans and for you also to read the one from La·o·di·ceʹa.

Clearly, there was a need for brothers who were exceptional in teaching, in coordinating, in managing, in directing. These would be ideal "gifts in men" for those who would coordinate  activities in the overall worldwide congregations:

(Ephesians 4:8-16) 8 For it says: “When he ascended on high he carried away captives; he gave gifts in men.” . . .11 And he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers, 12 with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work, to build up the body of the Christ, 13 until we all attain to the oneness of the faith and of the accurate knowledge of the Son of God, to being a full-grown man, attaining the measure of stature that belongs to the fullness of the Christ. 14 So we should no longer be children, tossed about as by waves and carried here and there by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men, by means of cunning in deceptive schemes. 15 But speaking the truth, let us by love grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ. 16 From him all the body is harmoniously joined together and made to cooperate through every joint that gives what is needed. When each respective member functions properly, this contributes to the growth of the body as it builds itself up in love.

There is nothing wrong therefore with accepting a governing body who sees itself as "guardians of doctrine." There is nothing wrong with a body of elders who see themselves as a governing body tasked with this responsibility.

(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.

Elders in any capacity have shown themselves desirous of a fine work. (1 Tim 3:1) We should respect all elders in all capacities, and follow their lead, contemplate their conduct, and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7) This goes for our governing body just as it goes for every other elder in any congregation.

That said, it's also pretty clear that there is no parable of the faithful and discreet slave. It's a parable of a faithful/discreet and an unfaithful/evil/indiscreet slave. It's really a parable about two different types of conduct found among fellow slaves. Christians are supposed to get the point about which one of those types was the faithful type and which was obviously the unfaithful type.

When Jesus said "Who really is the faithful and discreet [type of] slave?" in his illustration, it's the same as when Jesus spoke of two different types of conduct found in the situation of the "good Samaritan." Christians are supposed to get the point about which of those two attitudes was the right way to act. Thus Jesus started the illustration of the good Samaritan after the question "Who really is my neighbor?"

No one (any more) looks at the "Good Samaritan" and thinks it was some kind of prophecy, do they?

In the same way Paul showed that the illustration applied to him, but it also applied to everyone else:

(1 Corinthians 4:2-5) 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. In fact, I do not even examine myself. 4 For I am not conscious of anything against myself. But by this I am not proved righteous; the one who examines me is Jehovah. 5 Therefore, do not judge anything before the due time, until the Lord comes. He will bring the secret things of darkness to light and make known the intentions of the hearts, and then each one will receive his praise from God.

That's the same point Jesus made. All Christians have been made stewards (servants) and all of us are therefore supposed to be faithful over what we have been appointed to do. But we should not lord it over our fellow slaves. As Paul puts it in some of the following verses:

(1 Corinthians 4:8) . . .Are you already satisfied? Are you already rich? Have you begun ruling as kings without us?. . .

No, all Christians wait until the due time, until the Lord comes. Then each on will receive his praise from God.

1 Peter 4 also says that it is the responsibility of all of us to be faithful stewards:

(1 Peter 4:7-10,13) 7 But the end of all things has drawn close. Therefore, be sound in mind [discreet], and be vigilant with a view to prayers. [faithful] 8 Above all things, have intense love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 10 To the extent that each one has received a gift, use it in ministering to one another as fine stewards of God’s undeserved kindness that is expressed in various ways. . . . 13 . . . so that you may rejoice and be overjoyed also during the revelation of his glory.

(2 Peter 3:10-14) 10 But Jehovah’s day will come as a thief, . . .  and earth and the works in it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, consider what sort of people you ought to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, 12 as you await and keep close in mind the presence [PAROUSIA] of the day of Jehovah, . . . 14 Therefore, beloved ones, since you are awaiting these things, do your utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace.

Clearly, the lessons of 1 Peter and 2 Peter are commentary on the same point Jesus made about his parousia in Matthew 24. We have been given a responsibility to minister to one another as fine stewards. We must remain faithful and discreet in this appointment, so that we might be overjoyed at the revelation of his glory, when all is "exposed." When Jehovah's day comes, we want to prove that we have been on the "watch" with respect to our conduct, and "what sort of people [we] ought to be."

And to bring this full circle back to the discussion about parousia, etc., it's the same thing that Paul also says of the parousia:

(1 Thessalonians 3:12, 13) 12 Moreover, may the Lord cause you to increase, yes, to abound in love for one another and for all, just as we do for you, 13 so that he may make your hearts firm, blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the presence [PAROUSIA] of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.

Notice that Christians are to stay on the watch with respect to their conduct because Jehovah's day will come as a thief and we want to do our utmost to be found FINALLY spotless at the PAROUSIA of the day of Jehovah. This is exactly what Paul says in Thessalonians about finally being found blameless at the PAROUSIA of Jesus Christ. From 1 Peter 4:13 it should be clear that this FINAL point in time, called the PAROUSIA, is also called the "revelation of his glory." The exact points are made about the SYNTELEIA:

(Matthew 13:39-43) . . .The harvest is a conclusion [SYNTELEIA] of a system of things, and the reapers are angels. 40 Therefore, just as the weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be in the conclusion [SYNTELEIA] of the system of things. 41 The Son of man will send his angels, and they will collect out from his Kingdom all things that cause stumbling and people who practice lawlessness, 42 and they will pitch them into the fiery furnace. There is where their weeping and the gnashing of their teeth will be. 43 At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.. . .

(Matthew 24:48-51) 48 “But if ever that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying,’ 49 and he starts to beat his fellow slaves and to eat and drink with the confirmed drunkards, 50 the master of that slave will come on a day that he does not expect and in an hour that he does not know, 51 and he will punish him with the greatest severity and will assign him his place with the hypocrites. There is where his weeping and the gnashing of his teeth will be.

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4 hours ago, Noble Berean said:

So, if Jesus Christ presence has possibly not yet begun (because there is no "lightning" sign), would it still be logical to conclude that Jesus Christ appointed Br. Russell and the men to follow as a slave over his temple? Because this appointment scripturally comes before his "coming" anyway.

I see no problem with such a claim, although I would also add that Jesus appointed Peter, Paul, Apollos, and you, too, as slaves over his temple.

(Matthew 25:34-40) 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right: ‘Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. 35 For I became hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you received me hospitably; 36 naked and you clothed me. I fell sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you visited me.’ 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.’

(John 21:15-17) . . .Jesus said to Simon Peter: “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He replied to him: “Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you.” He said to him: “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again he said to him a second time: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He replied: “Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you.” He said to him: “Shepherd my little sheep.” 17 He said to him a third time: “Simon son of John, do you have affection for me?” Peter became grieved that he asked him the third time: “Do you have affection for me?” So he said to him: “Lord, you are aware of all things; you know that I have affection for you.” Jesus said to him: “Feed my little sheep.

As I'm sure you know, the Watchtower has now demoted Brother Russell from the category currently defined as "faithful and discreet slave." He was once considered one of the most important members of that class. He is now considered NEVER to have ever been a part of it, according to the most recent Watch Tower publications on the subject.

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4 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

As I'm sure you know, the Watchtower has now demoted Brother Russell from the category currently defined as "faithful and discreet slave." He was once considered one of the most important members of that class. He is now considered NEVER to have ever been a part of it, according to the most recent Watch Tower publications on the subject.

Oh that's news to me about Russell. I thought according to JW doctrine Jesus Christ appointed his faithful slave in 1918?

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6 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

I see no problem with such a claim, although I would also add that Jesus appointed Peter, Paul, Apollos, and you, too, as slaves over his temple.

(Matthew 25:34-40) 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right: ‘Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. 35 For I became hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you received me hospitably; 36 naked and you clothed me. I fell sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you visited me.’ 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.’

(John 21:15-17) . . .Jesus said to Simon Peter: “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He replied to him: “Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you.” He said to him: “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again he said to him a second time: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He replied: “Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you.” He said to him: “Shepherd my little sheep.” 17 He said to him a third time: “Simon son of John, do you have affection for me?” Peter became grieved that he asked him the third time: “Do you have affection for me?” So he said to him: “Lord, you are aware of all things; you know that I have affection for you.” Jesus said to him: “Feed my little sheep.

Here's my issue with your reasoning about any Christian being the prophesied faithful slave. Jesus Christ was talking directly to the anointed, and like many JWs today I am not from that group. Additionally, Jesus Christ appointed a slave over the other slaves which implies that there is a person or composite person that is taking the lead over the group. After all, how could Christ's organization function smoothly if everyone claimed to be acting over God's temple?

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9 minutes ago, Anna said:

Brother Russell died in 1916

Hmm that's peculiar since I assumed he was the FDS. So are Rutherford or Knorr considered the FDS? I am aware that the Governing Body as we know it today was established in the 1970s so that leaves a pretty big gap. I don't know why the GB wasn't formed around the prophetic year of 1918 (if it were correct understanding).

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22 minutes ago, Noble Berean said:

Hmm that's peculiar. So are Rutherford or Knorr considered the FDS? I am aware that the Governing Body as we know it today was established in the 1970s so that leaves a pretty big gap.

If I'm not mistaken, both Rutherford and Knorr were considered the FDS, after all, this was after 1918, when the supposed appointment was made, as you yourself mention. But I think this appointment was seen in retrospect. (years later). JWInsider will probably know more about this. I believe all of the anointed were thought to be the FDS and then the WT of July 2013 clarified that it only applied to the anointed in the GB, the article was: "feeding many at the hands of a few"

    Hello guest!

P.S I think Br. Russell is viewed as one who "prepared the way" and as the "rattling of the bones" as per Ezekiel 37:1-14

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2 hours ago, Noble Berean said:

Here's my issue with your reasoning about any Christian being the prophesied faithful slave. Jesus Christ was talking directly to the anointed, and like many JWs today I am not from that group. Additionally, Jesus Christ appointed a slave over the other slaves which implies that there is a person or composite person that is taking the lead over the group. After all, how could Christ's organization function smoothly if everyone claimed to be acting over God's temple?

The answer is straightforward, and this is the reason I included Matthew 25:34-40 in my response.

But I think some background might be useful, and this might take more than one post, sorry:

I am not sure if you are aware that the Watch Tower publications have done away with the practice of claiming that all Bible narratives, parables and illustrations were to be treated as prophecies, or prophetic dramas where we (the WTS) would make specific modern-day applications out of them, such that one entity in the illustration means only the anointed and another entity means only the non-anointed, etc. It was usually a pretty simple formula to work out, but there were often Biblical contradictions if you read the entire context for yourself:

  • If someone in Israel or Judah was doing the right thing it was a "prophecy" about the anointed sometime after 1918.
  • If someone in Israel or Judah was doing the wrong thing, it was a "prophecy" about Christendom, usually around 1918 to 1919.
  • If there was a mention of captivity or discipline of Israel or Judah, it always meant a prophecy about the captivity of the leading brothers in the organization in 1918. (And a release or cleansing always referred to 1919.)
  • If any good person or group from another nation was mentioned, it always referred to the "other sheep" class
  • If it was a bad person or group from another nation was mentioned, it referred to Babylon the Great

There were just a few exceptions and variations, but the formula was usually easy enough to predict.

  • One of the major exceptions was the explanation of the long Bible narratives about the activities of Elijah and Elisha. Elijah transferred his mantle to Elisha, after which Elijah is "taken up in a whilrwind" and Elisha performed twice as many miracles, and appeared to have a "double measure" of holy spirit.
  • It seemed natural that this should apply to the time of Russell as the time of Elijah, and then Rutherford applied the time of Elisha to himself after 1918.
  • But when Rutherford died and thereby transferred the presidency to Knorr, Russell was dropped from the formula and Elijah now referred to Rutherford's time as president, and Elisha now was a prophecy about Knorr's time in the Watch Tower presidency.
  • Most of the entire contents of the book "Let Your Name Be Sanctified" covered this previous point. And this was the book being studied every Tuesday at the "Congregation Book Study" just 5 years before I was baptized.

Another of the study books listed 42 of these type of prophecies that referred specifically to the "other sheep."

And a Watchtower in 1981 listed another 80 of these type of prophecies that referred specifically to the "anointed remnant."

*** w81 3/1 p. 27 Do You Appreciate the “Faithful and Discreet Slave”? ***
OVERWHELMING CREDENTIALS
The “faithful and discreet slave” has abundant credentials. Following is a partial list of Scriptural and prophetic designations applying to or being represented in the remnant of Jesus Christ’s anointed followers since the notable year 1919:
(1) Noah’s wife, Gen. 7:7; (2) angels sent to Lot, Gen. 19:15; (3) Rebekah, Gen. 24:64; (4) Joseph and Benjamin, Gen. 45:14; (5) gleanings left behind, Lev. 19:9; (6) two spies to Rahab, Josh. 2:4; (7) Barak, Judg. 4:14; (8) Jephthah, Judg. 11:34; (9) Naomi and Ruth, Ruth 2:2; (10) David’s Israelite warriors, 2 Sam. 18:1; (11) Jehu, 2 Ki. 10:11, 15; (12) Mordecai and Esther, Esther 4:13; (13) Job, Job 42:10, 13; (14) King’s daughter, Ps. 45:13; (15) men of loving-kindness, Ps. 50:5; (16) intimate group, Ps. 89:7; (17) Shear-jashub, Isa. 7:3; (18) light of the nations, Isa. 60:3; (19) big trees of righteousness, Isa. 61:3; (20) ministers of our God, Isa. 61:6; (21) cluster preserved, Isa. 65:8; (22) servants called by another name, Isa. 65:15; (23) men trembling at God’s word, Isa. 66:5; (24) new nation born, Isa. 66:8; (25) Jeremiah, Jer. 1:10; (26) Jehovah’s people in the new covenant, Jer. 31:33; (27) enduring watchman, Ezek. 3:16-27; (28) man in linen, Ezek. 9:2; (29) cleansed people, Ezek. 36:29-32; (30) dwellers in center of earth, Ezek. 38:12; (31) the host of heaven, Dan. 8:10; (32) sanctuary restored (cleansed), Dan. 8:14; (33) they that are wise, Dan. 11:33; (34) the happy one who is keeping in expectation, Dan. 12:12; (35) all flesh receiving the spirit, Joel 2:28; (36) Jonah, Jon. 3:1-3; (37) apple of Jehovah’s eye, Zech. 2:8; (38) liberated remnant, Zech. 2:7; (39) a Jew, Zech. 8:23; (40) sons of Levi, Mal. 3:3; (41) wheat, Matt. 13:25; (42) sons of the kingdom, Matt. 13:38; (43) workers for the vineyard, Matt. 20:1; (44) those invited to marriage feast, Matt. 22:3-14; (45) chosen ones, Matt. 24:22; (46) eagles, Matt. 24:28; (47) faithful and discreet slave, Matt. 24:45; (48) discreet virgins, Matt. 25:2; (49) brothers of the king, Matt. 25:40; (50) little flock of sheep, Luke 12:32; (51) beggar Lazarus, Luke 16:20; (52) sheep in “this fold,” John 10:1-16; (53) branches of the vine, John 15:4; (54) royal palace of David, Acts 15:16; (55) heirs with Christ, Rom. 8:17; (56) the remnant, Rom. 11:5; (57) branches in the olive tree, Rom. 11:24; (58) holy ones or saints, 1 Cor. 6:2; Rev. 16:6; (59) temple, 1 Cor. 6:19; (60) new creation, 2 Cor. 5:17; (61) ambassadors for Christ, 2 Cor. 5:20; (62) congregation of God, Gal. 1:13; (63) part of Abraham’s seed, Gal. 3:29; (64) Israel of God, Gal. 6:16; (65) body of Christ, Eph. 1:22, 23; (66) soldiers of Christ Jesus, 2 Tim. 2:3; (67) house under Christ, Heb. 3:6; (68) holy priesthood, 1 Pet. 2:5; (69) holy nation, 1 Pet. 2:9; (70) association of brothers, 1 Pet. 2:17; (71) seven congregations, Rev. 1:20; (72) twenty-four persons of advanced age, Rev. 4:4; (73) spiritual Israel, Rev. 7:4; (74) locusts, Rev. 9:3; (75) two witnesses, Rev. 11:3; (76) two olive trees, Rev. 11:4; (77) seed of the woman, Rev. 12:17; (78) New Jerusalem, Rev. 21:2; (79) the bride of Christ, Rev. 22:17; 19:7; (80) Jehovah’s witnesses, Isa. 43:10.

Between just those two sources, that's a partial list of 122 prophecies in total that were mostly dismissed recently as no longer prophecies. These "doctrines" are no longer considered true, with just a few exceptions. In 2015, this type of doctrine was designated no longer "approved." It's informative to see how this was explained:

*** w15 3/15 p. 9-11 par. 7-14 “This Is the Way You Approved” ***
7 If you have been serving Jehovah for decades, you may have noticed a gradual shift in the way our literature explains many of the narratives recorded in the Bible. How so? In times past, it was more common for our literature to take what might be called a type-antitype approach to Scriptural accounts. The Bible narrative was considered the type, and any prophetic fulfillment of the story was the antitype. . . . Can we conclude, though, that every character, event, and object described in the Bible foreshadows someone or something? 9 In the past, such an approach was often taken. Consider, for example, the account about Naboth, whose unjust trial and execution were arranged by wicked Queen Jezebel so that her husband, Ahab, could seize Naboth’s vineyard. (1 Ki. 21:1-16) Back in 1932, that account was explained as a prophetic drama. Ahab and Jezebel were said to picture Satan and his organization; Naboth pictured Jesus; Naboth’s death, then, was prophetic of Jesus’ execution. Decades later, though, in the book “Let Your Name Be Sanctified,” published in 1961, Naboth was said to picture the anointed, and Jezebel was Christendom. Hence, Naboth’s persecution at Jezebel’s hands pictured the persecution of the anointed during the last days. For many years, God’s people found this approach to Bible accounts faith strengthening. Why, then, have things changed?
10 As we might expect, over the years Jehovah has helped “the faithful and discreet slave” to become steadily more discreet. Discretion has led to greater caution when it comes to calling a Bible account a prophetic drama unless there is a clear Scriptural basis for doing so. Additionally, it has been found that some of the older explanations about types and antitypes are unduly difficult for many to grasp. The details of such teachings—who pictures whom and why—can be hard to keep straight, to remember, and to apply. Of even greater concern, though, is that the moral and practical lessons of the Bible accounts under examination may be obscured or lost in all the scrutiny of possible antitypical fulfillments. Thus, we find that our literature today focuses more on the simple, practical lessons about faith, endurance, godly devotion, and other vital qualities that we learn about from Bible accounts.
11 How, then, do we now understand the account about Naboth? In much clearer, simpler terms. That righteous man died, not because he was a prophetic type of Jesus or of the anointed, but because he was an integrity keeper. He held to Jehovah’s Law in the face of horrific abuse of power. (Num. 36:7; 1 Ki. 21:3) His example thus speaks to us because any one of us may face persecution for similar reasons. (Read 2 Timothy 3:12.) People of all backgrounds can readily understand, remember, and apply such a faith-strengthening lesson.
. . . For example, we can rightly say that Naboth’s integrity in the face of persecution and death reminds us of the integrity of Christ and his anointed. However, we can also be reminded of the faithful stand of many of the Lord’s “other sheep.” Such a clear and simple comparison has the hallmark of divine teaching.
A SIMPLER APPROACH TO JESUS’ ILLUSTRATIONS
. . .
14 What, though, about the more detailed stories, or parables, that Jesus related? Some, of course, are symbolic and prophetic; others emphasize practical lessons. But which is which? Through the years, the answer has gradually become clearer. For instance, consider the way we have explained Jesus’ parable of the neighborly Samaritan. (Luke 10:30-37) In 1924, The Watch Tower said that the Samaritan pictured Jesus; the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, which ran downhill, pictured mankind’s downward course since the rebellion in Eden; the thieves on the road pictured giant corporations and profiteers; and the priest and the Levite typified ecclesiastical systems. Today, our literature uses that illustration to remind all Christians that we must be impartial in rendering aid to those in need, especially in a spiritual sense. Does it not make us happy to see that Jehovah makes his teachings clear to us?

Additional comments were made in this Watchtower and in the 2014 Annual Meeting that clarified that we no longer try to turn a Biblical narrative or parable into a prophecy unless there is a specific scripture that tells us that it is to be applied as a prophecy. (e.g., Jonah in the belly of the fish for three days.)

Even in places where we had applied an entity only to the anointed, such as with Naboth, notice now how this narrative actually applies just as well to the "other sheep." The "prodigal son" is another example where the two brothers once referred to the anointed (older brother) and the other sheep (prodigal brother). The clear and simple lesson about forgiveness and human understanding was lost because we thought of it as a prophecy about how the other sheep had lost out on the heavenly hope (wasted that potential inheritance) because they were not as spiritual as the anointed. Obviously this didn't make as much sense after the prejudices against the less worthy other sheep wore off over the years, and the meanings were therefore adjusted.  But the Watchtower still continued viewing the parable as a prophecy about the anointed and other sheep for more than 50 years.

You might already know that there are still three major parables of Jesus that must still be considered "prophecies" even though it would be just as easy to treat them as moral reminders to watch our conduct and motivations. These include the illustration of "the faithful and the evil slave," "the wise and foolish virgins," and "the sheep and the goats." 

This may not be the reason, but the "Governing Body" claims its Biblical authority from the parable of "the faithful and the evil slave" and the "sheep and the goats" parable is used to remind the "other sheep" how they must treat the anointed -- Christ's brothers.

But if you look closely at the parable of the sheep and the goats, you can see more reasons to consider what the Watchtower said about Naboth, for example. The MORAL lesson of the sheep and the goats parable works the same for both the "anointed" and the "other sheep."

Consider who Christ's brothers are in the illustration of the sheep and the goats where Jesus says in verse 40: ‘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.’

*** w15 3/15 p. 26 pars. 4-5 Loyally Supporting Christ’s Brothers ***
In 1881, Zion’s Watch Tower identified “the Son of man,” also called “the King,” as Jesus. The early Bible Students understood the expression rendered in the King James Version “my brethren” to refer to those who would rule with Christ as well as to all of mankind after they are restored to earthly perfection. . . . And they believed that people would be classed as sheep because they lived by God’s law of love.
5 In the early 1920’s, Jehovah helped his people refine their understanding of this illustration. The Watch Tower of October 15, 1923, affirmed that “the Son of man” is Jesus. However, it presented sound Scriptural arguments that limited the identity of Christ’s brothers to those who would rule with him in heaven, and it described the sheep as those who hope to live on earth under the rule of Christ’s Kingdom.

7 Today, we have a clear understanding of the illustration of the sheep and the goats. Regarding the identity of those mentioned, Jesus is “the Son of man,” the King. Those referred to as “my brothers” are spirit-anointed men and women, who will rule with Christ from heaven. (Rom. 8:16, 17) “The sheep” and “the goats” represent individuals from all nations. These ones are not anointed by holy spirit. What about the timing of the judgment? This judgment will occur toward the end of the great tribulation just ahead. And what of the reason why people will be judged as either sheep or goats? 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!

 

Think about the illustration closely. I'll repeat it here:

(Matthew 25:31-40) 31 “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right: ‘Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. 35 For I became hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you received me hospitably; 36 naked and you clothed me. I fell sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you visited me.’ 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.’

The Watchtower said that the "brothers" are anointed, and the "sheep" are not anointed. If that isn't clear, just look at the red highlighted words in paragraph 7 of the 3/15/2015 Watchtower quoted above.  But notice what Jesus says about the sheep in Matthew 25:34. He says to the sheep on the right "Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world."

Does it really sound like the sheep are distinguished from those who inherit the Kingdom? Does it really sound like it matters, from a moral and instructional perspective?

I'm trying to point out the contradictions that can happen when we try to break up Jesus' illustrations into prophecies about who is anointed and who is not anointed. As another example, notice Matthew 5:5:

(Matthew 5:5) 5 “Happy are the mild-tempered, since they will inherit the earth.

Who do you think inherits the earth? The anointed or the non-anointed?

*** w09 3/15 p. 23 par. 14 Jehovah Deserves Our United Praise ***
One result was that the way was opened for 144,000 humans to become spirit-anointed followers of Christ. In 1919, Jehovah used his power to deliver a small remnant of these anointed ones from captivity to false religion. Their accomplishments during this time of the end can only be attributed to God’s power. Upon proving faithful to death, they will share with Jesus Christ in ruling from heaven over the earth for the benefit of repentant humans. (Rev. 2:26, 27; 5:9, 10) They will inherit the earth in a far grander way than did ancient Israel.—Matt. 5:5.

*** w09 3/15 p. 11 par. 4 Keep Your Eyes on the Prize ***
Jesus confirmed that this was a valid hope. He said: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5) Jesus himself is the principal one to inherit our earth, as Psalm 2:8 indicates, and he will have 144,000 corulers in heaven.

Notice how the point must be blended to include the other sheep as OTHER mild-tempered ones, not the specific mild-tempered ones mentioned in Matthew 5:5.

*** w08 5/15 p. 3 par. 4 How Should We Treat Others? ***
4 The mild-tempered ones are happy because “they will inherit the earth.” Jesus, who was “mild-tempered and lowly in heart,” is the “appointed heir of all things” and is therefore the principal Inheritor of the earth. (Matt. 11:29; Heb. 1:2; Ps. 2:8) It was foretold that the Messianic “son of man” would have associate rulers in the heavenly Kingdom. (Dan. 7:13, 14, 21, 22, 27) As “joint heirs with Christ,” 144,000 mild-tempered anointed ones were to share in Jesus’ inheritance of the earth. (Rom. 8:16, 17; Rev. 14:1) Other mild-tempered ones will be blessed with everlasting life in the earthly realm of the Kingdom.—Ps. 37:11.

*** w03 4/1 p. 25 par. 20 Exhibit “All Mildness Toward All Men” ***
. “Happy are the mild-tempered ones,” Jesus declared, “since they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) For Christ’s spirit-anointed brothers, maintaining mildness ensures their happiness and the privilege of ruling over the earthly domain of the Kingdom. As for the “great crowd” of “other sheep,” they continue to manifest mildness and look forward to life in Paradise here on earth

*** w91 10/15 p. 10 par. 2 How Happy the Mild-Tempered! ***
2 Jesus pronounced the mild-tempered happy because they will inherit the earth. As the perfectly mild-tempered Son of God, Jesus is the Chief Inheritor of the earth. (Psalm 2:8; Matthew 11:29; Hebrews 1:1, 2; 2:5-9) But as the Messianic “son of man,” he was to have associate rulers in his heavenly Kingdom. (Daniel 7:13, 14, 22, 27) As Christ’s “joint heirs,” these anointed mild-tempered ones will share in his inheritance of the earth. (Romans 8:17) Other mild-tempered, sheeplike people will enjoy eternal life in Paradise in the Kingdom’s earthly realm.

*** w74 6/15 pp. 377-378 par. 14 Serve with Eternity in View ***
Did Christ say that its fulfillment was all in the past? No, for he projected it into the future, saying that the ‘mild-tempered will inherit the earth.’ Yes, those mild-tempered ones who are to be with Christ in his heavenly kingdom will rule over this earth.


It might seem odd that almost every time the scripture Matthew 5:5 comes up in the Watchtower, there is always this first mention of Jesus and the 144,000, when the obvious point is really about how Jesus promoted that Christians should be mild-tempered. And the reason for this somewhat awkward schema is that we believe that technically, only the ANOINTED inherit the earth, even though there is clearly a wider principle here:

*** w66 8/1 p. 451 “Happy Are the Mild-tempered Ones” ***
Who are the mild-tempered that will inherit the earth? Certainly they would include Jesus Christ himself, for, above all men that ever lived on this earth, he was mild-tempered. As he himself said: “Come to me, . . . for I am mild-tempered.” Concerning him and his triumphal ride into Jerusalem, it was written: “Look! Your King is coming to you, mild-tempered.”—Matt. 11:28, 29; 21:5.
That Jesus Christ, as the preeminent mild-tempered one, will inherit the earth other scriptures make clear. Jehovah God has appointed him to be “heir of all things,” including this earth. In fact, ‘the nations are to be his inheritance, and the ends of the earth his possession.’—Heb. 1:2; Ps. 2:7, 8.
This inheritance Jesus Christ shares, even as he does his Kingdom rule, with his anointed footstep followers, for they are to be “heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ.” These are the ones the apostle John saw in vision standing upon heavenly Mount Zion and who number 144,000.—Rom. 8:17; Rev. 14:1.
While the statement “happy are the mild-tempered ones” is thus seen to have specific and primary application to Jesus Christ and his Kingdom associates, it, nevertheless, states a principle that has wider application.

  • So, according to the Watchtower, who, in Matthew 5:5, are the ones who INHERIT THE EARTH? The ANOINTED.
  • So, according to the Watchtower, who,  in Matt 25:34 are the ones who INHERIT THE KINGDOM? The NON-ANOINTED.

Yet, the "other sheep" are the ones identified as "Kingdom associates" in the sense that they "inherit the Kingdom" in Matthew 25. I'm pointing out what looks like a contradiction, and it is really all based on an emphasis that loses sight of the parable's moral and principle about proper conduct. It's what happens if you were to look at Matthew 5:5 and think (as you stated above): "Jesus Christ was talking directly to the anointed, and like many JWs today I am not from that group." Does that really mean you don't share in the inheritance of the earth?

It's the same thing that would happen if we try to separate Matthew 24:45-51 from the comments Paul and Peter made on the same subject about who should be a faithful steward and what kind of conduct and attitude would identify us as an evil steward.

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I am not a young person so I have seen how the world has changed just in my lifetime. 40 years ago was much different to 70 years ago and 70 years ago was unbelievably different to 150 years ago.... before the telegraph etc. During Russell's time they were still exploring the wild west..... shooting it out in Tucson.

As I have said before so many times on this site - we need to evaluate every attitude and way people look at the bible and at life from the perspective of the entire generation/society and the geographical area.  We cannot look back and judge the past with a modern view of things!  That would be a wrong evaluation of what happened and what was said!  Back then people wanted and 'needed' deeper explanations of everything because they were more scholarly - so they dissected it with detail.  Not that it is wrong in itself to dissect - but one can make the error of reading MORE into it than intended. 

What kept brother Russel active in Jehovah's work and faithful to his cause was studying the scriptures.  What he got out of the scriptures was the identifying of some of the wrong teachings prevalent in the world at the time and wanting to expose them.  Did he do many stupid things which one can attribute to a factor of his time - a time when everyone was looking at the pyramids in a certain way  .....most certainly..... This was after the dark ages when no-one was allowed to say anything against the churches and they had great power. This was when Darwin also appeared! People were looking at everything in a new way - the industrial revolution was on the way and people felt empowered to investigate everything in a scholarly way - in the light of classical influence....   

This is why our new "Gods Kingdom Rules" study  recently quoted Mal 3: 1-4. It was fulfilled in the time of John the Baptist (a messenger of preparation) as he prepared the way for Christ and the messenger of the Covenant (Christ). They also applied it to Russel and those who followed him as the 'messenger of preparation' before the "slave" was appointed. They were also thoroughly cleaned and beaten like one does when you wash washing with lye! (2 messengers  below!)

    Hello guest!
 “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will clear up
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a way before me.
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And suddenly the true Lord, whom you are seeking, will come to his temple;
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and the messenger of the covenant will come, in whom you take delight. Look! He will certainly come,” says Jehovah of armies.
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 “But who will endure the day of his coming, and who will be able to stand when he appears? For he will be like the fire of a refiner and like the lye
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of laundrymen.
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 And he will sit as a refiner and cleanser of silver
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and will cleanse the sons of Leʹvi; and he will clarify
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them like gold and like silver, and they will certainly become to Jehovah people presenting a gift offering in righteousness.
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 And the gift offering of Judah and of Jerusalem will actually be pleasing
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to Jehovah, as in the days of long ago and as in the years of antiquity.
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The days of Noah did not get a sign (Matthew 24)  They saw the ark being built and asked questions about it.  Noah preached until the day he went into the ark.  They took no notice until the rain came down.   The Pharisees saw Jesus doing miracles ........ did it change their faith?   No they loved their lives that they had and were not spiritually inclined. 

I had a Muslim ask me this week where (the place) Jesus going to appear.  I knew why he was asking- because the Muslims believe that Isa will come back as a Muslim and everyone will recognize him because he will have a certain appearance described in Islamic writings......   to me it is absurd to think that a spiritual being will come back as a literal body and appear somewhere....on earth.  The Shia and Sunni muslims believe that Jesus is going to land in 2 different places according to their writings........  So I used the scripture in Matthew 24 to show this:

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 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Christ,’
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or, ‘There!’ do not believe it.
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 For false Christs and false prophets
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will arise and will perform great signs and wonders so as to mislead,
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if possible, even the chosen ones.
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 Look! I have forewarned you.
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 Therefore, if people say to you, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.
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True Christians do not need a special sign..... we know Jesus is ruling. We have recognized the signs of the times as the fig tree illustration says (Matt 24).  The final sign will be for the ones who will be gnashing their teeth ..... and Jehovah's name will have something to do with it.   When all religion is banned..... preaching banned .....and all have the mark of the beast - I am sure we will reach world news.....and Jehovah's name (Jesus is already known by most in the world) will  be known by all.  Our preaching work (like in the time of Peter when he said we must obey God as ruler rather then men) will become the issue and our disobedience regarding preaching - as subversion (like Jesus).  They will kill us in the name of God thinking that they are doing God a favor....... But we may see physical signs like the Egyptians did before the finale! 

This week I read that the New World translation has been banned as extremist in Russia because it has the name of JEHOVAH in it.


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16 hours ago, JW Insider said:

Another thing I've said before is that, for me, and I hope also for others, if they see the same points in the scriptures that were presented above, that this shouldn't really change much. Whether the parousia, synteleia, kingdom, last days, etc, actually started specifically in 1914 or not, it shouldn't matter to the way we live our lives and our service to Jehovah. According to the Bible, we still see ourselves in the last days, we still appreciate the presence of Jesus, we still believe in the imminence of the manifestation or "coming" of Jesus Christ in his day of judgment. We still remain watchful so that our conduct befits our faith in the parousia. We still have faith that Jesus is reigning as king, and is currently ruling in the midst of his enemies. We still see the preaching of the good news of the kingdom as an activity of primary importance for our day. We do not live for a date, and do still do not claim to know the day or the hour. Nothing that is core about our lives and activities and conduct as a Witness needs to be contradicted by anything said in the Bible about the times we are living in.

You read my mind!

Sadly, many do think that 1914 is a backbone doctrine. And to a great extent this is so when we refer to how we understand the prophecies of the last days.

How sad that Russell when he looked at adjusting the failures regarding dates found interesting Benjamin Wilson (and his use of parousia in the Diaglott) and did not get to familiarize himself with the recent findings (at that time) of Deissmann, regarding the specialized use of parousia (The visit of the king), different from the common (presence).
 
How much I would like to comment on this! But now I'm right in the middle of a move to another city!!

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What does not cease to amaze me, and at the same time causes me deep sadness, is the lack of humility in expressing our positions regarding prophecies.

I would like a tone more as if we were "Students of the Bible" But we usually speak as "touched" by God. Like their Channel, in the sense that when the GB meets on Wednesdays the Shekhina light shines on them. I remember at a recent annual meeting the brother explaining a new prophetic understanding. In closing he said something like "are not we happy to see how Jehovah has shown us these things?" I thought, "And if in a while you have to teach just the opposite, is Jehovah wrong now?"

I mean, (I've said it many times in several posts) Why do not we do like the recent Watchtower we studied, regarding what Jesus meant when he asked Peter "Do you love me more than these?"

  • W17, May, p. 22 “After serving them breakfast, Jesus turned to Simon Peter and said: “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” To what was Jesus referring? Peter was quite attached to fishing. So it seems that Jesus was asking him where his true affection lay”

The explanation is presented as a probability. That is humility. And with the HUGE amount of evidence pointing to the weakness of 607, seven times, 1914, parousia = presence, invisible parousia, etc, etc., how good would it be that we were humbler.

Above, I have said that this astonishes me. I ask myself, "Do not the responsible brothers see the amount of evidence in another direction? It cannot be, because I am rather limited, and I see it. Don’t they realize that we may incur in God's displeasure if we remain so stubborn? Are not we loving our traditions too much?

By the way, thank you very much @JW Insider for providing us with such complete and scholarly information.

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Here is another partial list from my ebay site that may be useful in research as well I have all of these in my store/library:

    Hello guest!

1914 and the Last Days Parousia of the KING

The Age of Turbulance 
Flu 1918 Pandemic 
Forth Horseman 
Pandemonium 
The Age of Uncertainty 
The Fall of Dynasties 
The Generation of 1914 
A World Undone 1914 
The War That Ended Peace 1914 
Our World Through the Ages 
July 1914 [Sean McMeekin] 
Catastrophe...1914 [Hastings] 
Evidence, History and the Great War : Historians and the Impact of 1914 - 1918 
Disposable People 
"Vincent Word Studies in NT" V1 MT 24:3 PRESENCE  
"Greek Eng. Lexicon NT" Bauer Arndt Gingrich  parousia  
"PAROUSIA" 1884 Warren Matt. 24:3 Presence KING 1914  
"Gospel St Matthew M'Neile" JEHOVAH PAROUSIA 
 "Mitchell New Testament"  PAROUSIA  
New American Standard Concord. Dictionary  PAROUSIA 
 Robertson Word pictures V. 1 Matt. Mark PAROUSIA Mt 24:3  
Liddell Scott Greek English Lexicon Parousia  
Robertson Expositors Greek V. 1 PAROUSIA Mt 24:3;  
"Interlinear Bible" J. Green Presence Parousia  
"Thayers" Greek English Lexicon  Parousia  
"Dictionary NT Theology"  Parousia of KING 
Emphatic Diaglott Presence J-21 
Commentary on New Test. Matthew 1886  "Presence"  
Cambridge Greek Testament Matthew 1894  "Presence"  
Pulpit Commentary" V 15 Matthew  PRESENCE  
ROTHERHAM" Emphasized Bible  Presence  
The Kingdom New Testament" [Wright] MT 24:3  "Presence... KING" 
Young's Literal Translation" Holy Bible Presence 
Holy Bible Modern Literal Version PRESENCE Matt. 24:3  
The Unvarnished New Testament" Gaus Translation  MT. 24:3  
Notes on Matthew" JEHOVAH New Testament 1914 Matt. 24:3-14  
Interlinear KJV - NIV New Testament Matt 24:3 presence  
Expository Dictionary Biblical Words by Vine  
The Four Gospels and Revelation" Lattimore  Presence MT 24:3 
Modern Matthew" Carr Translation "Presence"  
21 st Century New Testament" Capel " presence " 
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Vol 4 "Parousia" 
Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible Vol. 3 "Parousia" 
Irwins Bible Commentary "Parousia" 
New Bible Dictionary "Parousia Eschatology" 

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52 minutes ago, Arauna said:

Which year did the call go out for the Israelites to return to Jerusalem and when did they arrive there?

You are apparently asking for a secular date: a date that requires the input of scholars who have studied the archaeology, astronomy, language and therefore, the chronology of the Neo-Babylonian period of history. The only way that we could attach a secular date to this event is if we accept the expert scholars' opinions about the chronology. Those experts tell us that it's part of a timeline that includes and is interwoven with all the lengths of the reigns of the kings of the period. The lengths of these reigns include kings well before Nebuchadnezzar back into the late Assyrian period through the kings well after Cyrus and on into the period of Greek kings. The lengths of all these kings tend to double-check each other and the synchronization with prior and later timelines is useful as a way to make sure the entire period is understood correctly. Otherwise, who is to say there were not several kings named Nebuchadnezzar, and several named Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes, etc. All the data must be placed into a schema and then that schema can be double-checked through several different independent lines of evidence to see if it is being understood correctly.

So, to make a long story short, the Watchtower has admitted that it is estimating the year for the Judeans to return to Jerusalem as 537 BCE. This is based on the idea that we can confidently say that Cyrus first partial year over Babylon was 539 and therefore his first full regnal year was 538, which was therefore, the most likely time when the Jews returned. Biblically, it appears that the call went out in the first regnal year of the king called Cyrus. Putting the secular date of 539 or 538 on this year is only possible because the neo-Babylonian chronology schema allows us to know when Nabopolassar ruled, when Nebuchadnezzar II ruled, when Nabonidus ruled, when Cyrus ruled, and which astronomical sightings and other events help us to confirm each of these king's reigns and how they fit between and among the reigns of the other kings in the period. In other words, we can know that it was Nebuchadnezzar's 18th and 19th years when he destroyed the temple. But if we are to put a secular date on them it's only because we can put a date on any other king's reign during this period.

If we say that Cyrus' first full year was 538, it's because we can say that Nebuchadnezzar's 18th and 19th year was 587 and 586. All the dates are part of a whole. If we say that the Temple must have been destroyed in 607, for example, that's the same as saying that Cyrus' first full year started in 558. That would mean that the Watchtower would have to say that the Jews must have returned to Jerusalem in 558 or 557, instead of 537.

Fortunately, we now have several independent lines of evidence that all show us that Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year was 586, and therefore we can be sure that Cyrus 1st regnal year was 538. If we trust the astronomical diaries, we now have literally dozens of additional pieces of evidence to pinpoint secular dates at many points in the entire chronology. We also have the dated contract documents, thousands of them, that all confirm that these secular-astronomical dates are correct. These thousands of contracts show us that there are 48 years accounted for from Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year to Cyrus 1st. This is a perfect match to the other independent lines of evidence. 

Of course, all this is irrelevant, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, Thessalonians, 2 Peter and Revelation. There is no relationship between the time that the Jews returned to Jerusalem and the beginning of the Parousia.

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We know that the men who govern Christian.Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses are not writers of God-inspired messages; they do not write material on a par with the Scriptures. What we do know is that the first-century Christian congregation had a governing body, and a work greater in scope than what Christians accomplished in the first century is being accomplished in these last days, which again requires existence of a governing body, too. Refinements in doctrine are to be expected, maybe even as will yet affect the way we view the date 1914.. What I mean is this: we do not push ahead of direction from our Governing Body so that we remain in harmony in preaching a message that is not garbled with discordant "notes" that are off key, but remains a message that is a clarion call for all hearing it that they should be spiritually ready for the great day of God the Almighty. When it becomes Jehovah's time for refinements, we will all of us get them at the same time so that we remain united.

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1 hour ago, TiagoBelager said:

that we remain in harmony in preaching a message that is not garbled iwith discordant "notes" that are off key, but remains a message that is a clarion call for all hearing it that they should be spiritually ready for the great day of God the Almighty.

That's just it. I personally do not think that 1914 really is that important with regard to being spiritually ready or not. Not only that, but who of us uses 1914 as part of the preaching message to be honest? Who of us has recently "explained" it to someone at the door, or even to a study? In view of that, I do not think that putting forward "alternate" views regarding 1914 on this forum necessarily garbles our message, because our message is not about 1914, but about being ready because we do not know when the end will come. Refinements to our scriptural understanding are being made usually after we discern that our past application has become obsolete due to the passage of time. But notice our core beliefs have never had to be adjusted since about 1935. We still believe the same about the soul, what happens when we die, who go to heaven, what is hell, the identity of God, the identity of Jesus, God's kingdom, the good news, moral standards etc.etc. So all the other stuff is interesting, but irrelevant to our salvation in the grand scheme of things. I doubt Jehovah is going to judge someone as not worthy of life just because they have reservations about 1914 or some other chronological aspect.

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9 hours ago, Gnosis Pithos said:

every fly begins a very small fly, and becomes a larger fly.

This is a very funny statement because a fly starts as an egg, that hatches into a maggot which grows bigger and then becomes a pupa. The fly hatches out of the pupa and stays the same size until it dies. Perhaps it's a typo and he meant fry as in fish xD

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Several persons have weighed in already, and I'll be more than happy to discuss all these concerns and issues from a Biblical perspective. For now, it seems like a good idea to go ahead and get to the topic of parousia.

PAROUSIA

This is, of course, the word used in Matthew's account when the disciples were asking Jesus the question about WHEN the time would come for those predictions about the destruction of the Temple buildings. The earliest translations of the Bible, made back when koine Greek was still a living language, understood the "parousia" of Matthew 24 to be an event rather than a presence. The Watch Tower publications have said that the word parousia refers to both arrival and presence and that the more common use of the term referred more to the presence than the arrival. This is why the word is translated "presence."

(Matthew 24:2, 3) "Truly I say to you, by no means will a stone be left here upon a stone and not be thrown down.” 3 While he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence [PAROUSIA] and of the conclusion of the system of things?”

Clearly, the disciples wanted some advance warning about the time of this very visible, destructive event. They are basically saying: "WHEN? WHAT SIGN will you give us?"

The Watchtower has already admitted that the disciples knew nothing about an invisible presence, so it makes sense that they would want to know when it was just about to happen, not when an approaching time period was already happening invisibly. Common sense also tells us that they were not thinking that the falling of these temple stones was going to be an invisible occurrence. It's also very easy to understand this if we understand that the terms terms PAROUSIA and SYNTELEIA refer to a final judgment event. However, if we think of BOTH these terms as referring to long periods of time of 100 to 150 years or more, then it might inadvertently give us the impression that the disciples were asking about how to identify a time period when Jesus might be present for some long period of time even well in advance of the temple stones falling. Of course, that wouldn't tell the disciples what they needed to know, or what they were immediately concerned about.

So it's a good idea here to see what Mark and Luke report as the essence of the disciples same question, because neither of them use the term PAROUSIA. Did they want to know about the period of time before the destruction, or did they want to know the timing of the destruction?

(Luke 21:6, 7) . . .“As for these things that you now see, the days will come when not a stone will be left upon a stone and not be thrown down.” 7 Then they questioned him, saying: “Teacher, when will these things actually be, and what will be the sign when these things are to occur?”

It's already clear what they had in mind, and we should not expect the essence of what they were asking to be changed by the addition of the words parousia and synteleia in Matthew. Of course, a true understanding of those two words does not change the meaning of what Luke states and, in fact, makes it even more clear that Luke and Matthew are in complete harmony. The disciples were not asking:

"In what generation will these things actually be and what will be the signs so we know we are in the generation when these things are going to occur?"

Let's look at Mark:

(Mark 13:2-4) . . .By no means will a stone be left here upon a stone and not be thrown down.” 3 As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives with the temple in view, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately: 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are to come to a conclusion?”

In the discussion of SYNTELEIA we already presented the evidence that the word "synteleia" rarely means conclusion, especially not in Biblical or religious contexts. In fact, the word "conclusion" used here is not even from the noun, but is taken from the verb SYNTELEO, which always has the meaning of to reach a final end, to finish, to destroy, to complete, to fulfill, to accomplish, etc. A more accurate way to translate the verse would be the same way the NWT correctly handles the same word in Luke 4:13:

(Luke 4:13) 13 So the Devil, having finished [SYNTELEO] all the temptation, departed from him until another convenient time.

Thus, the Revised Standard Version translates Mark like this:

(Mark 13:4, RSV) "Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign when these things are all to be accomplished?"

The Watchtower has said that the two terms parousia and synteleia are "parallel." If this is really true, the disciples must have had in mind that parousia could refer to the same destructive judgment event that synteleia could have referred to. 

It is true however that "parousia" can refer to a simple "presence." Isn't there still a chance that this is what it refers to here? Well, we have already noted that this particular meaning would not have made as much sense in this context. And we have the evidence of that when we see that the parallel ideas in Mark and Luke show that it must have referred to the time when these events would come or arrive or happen or occur.

We also must recognize that there was a special meaning of parousia when it was applied to a dignitary, king or emperor. When you spoke of the parousia of someone like Paul, Timothy or Titus, then you might be referring to their arrival and their subsequent presence. But when the word was used for a powerful person, the focus was on the "grand entrance" or the "parade-like" event that accompanied those events. This understanding explains why the earliest translations of the Greek Bible into Latin and Coptic and Syriac recognized that words like ADVENT and COMING and ARRIVAL were better than presence, even if presence was still the proper way to discuss the parousia of someone like the apostle Paul.

Similarly, we commonly use the word "triumph" to refer to a big "success," or a "win." But the Romans used the word in a special sense of a "Victory Parade" and have made statues and carvings and coins that commemorate these events called "Triumphs" or "Triumph" processions. The Oxford English Dictionary offers it as the very first definition from the Latin "triumphus":

1.1 Rom. Hist. The entrance of a victorious commander with his army and spoils in solemn procession into Rome, permission for which was granted by the senate in honour of an important achievement in war.

It's reflected in the name of the famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris. A  "Triumph" is depicted in the famous "Arch of Titus" which looks like the one in Paris from the outside. Inside it shows Jerusalem's temple treasures being carried back to Rome:

TitusArcOrnaments.jpg

Similarly "PAROUSIA" had a special definition in the Roman world. It's alluded to in the Watch Tower Publications:

*** it-2 p. 677 Presence ***
Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon (revised by H. Jones, Oxford, 1968, p. 1343) shows that pa·rou·si?a is used at times in secular Greek literature to refer to the “visit of a royal or official personage.”

*** Rbi8 p. 1577 5B ChristÂ’s Presence (Parousia) ***
Also, Bauer, p. 630, states that pa·rou·si?a “became the official term for a visit of a person of high rank, esp[ecially] of kings and emperors visiting a province.” In Mt 24:3, as well as in other texts such as 1Th 3:13 and 2Th 2:1, the word pa·rou·si?a refers to the royal presence of Jesus Christ . . .

The primary reason for the differences between more recent Bible dictionaries, and dictionaries and studies completed prior to about 1910 was because the work of Adolph Deissmann was not published in English until the early 20th century. At the end of this post, I'll copy-and-paste some quotes that were already presented in another topic, especially page 8 of this conversation:

https://www.theworldnewsmedia.org/topic/16699-gods-kingdom-rules/?page=8

[ I was going to make a part 2 of this PAROUSIA post, but most of the technical references were already given especially near the end of this linked topic below. Later, I'll just make another PAROUSIA post discussing only the Biblical uses of the word.]

Deissmann had studied "New Testament" era papyri and coins that showed that a Parousia of a king or emperor was an event that could be like a parade or procession with fanfare, music, dancing, lots of people wearing white robes, and even a time for a visiting ruler to take on a seat of local judgment. Expenses for making the roads straight and smooth and cleaning up debris so that the king would be more impressed might even call for a special taxation in preparation for the parousia. Deissmann and others believed this is the reason for special "parousia" coins (Greek) or "advent" coins (Latin).

philipadventvsr-jpg.458651

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Also, in the 19th century, a few people realized that the simpler meaning of the word "parousia" gave support for their view of a two-stage parousia of Christ, including a potentially invisible stage. This was true of some Christadelphians, Plymouth Brethren and Second Adventists, too. It included persons like Benjamin Wilson who published the "Diaglott" and it was also true of W. E. Vine, the person who produced "Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words." (Both items are listed in the advertisement from @bruceq above.) Note, Insight:

*** it-2 p. 676 Presence ***
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (1981, Vol. 1, pp. 208, 209) states: “PAROUSIA . . . denotes both an arrival and a consequent presence with.

You might be fooled by the date 1981 used in the Insight book. W.E.Vine was actually born in 1873, died in 1949 and barely adjusted his early work on the word parousia after his work with C. F. Hogg between 1905 and 1914. He finished his commentary on Thessalonians with Hogg in 1914, where parousia was a key element. But even here, the two-stages of the Parousia referred primarily to the beginning of the Parousia which was a Rapture and therefore a short time when the saints would be with Christ in heaven during a time of persecution, followed by Armageddon which ultimately becomes the "Day of the Lord" which is the end event of the Parousia.

Here is some of that reference information from the other topic mentioned above:

---------------------------------------

[page 8]

Several of the Liddell-Scott definitions are related to something more than a simple visit, including the "royal visitation":

2. arrival, 
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. 
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, cf. 
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, 
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 ; “
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” 
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 ; esp. visit of a royal or official personage, 
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, etc., PTeb.48.14 (ii B. C.), IPE12.32A85 (Olbia, iii B.C.), etc.; of a god, IG42(1).122.34(Epid.).
3. occasion, v.l. in 
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.
4. 
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. 
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 entertain them on their official visits, OGI139.9(Philae, ii B.C.).
5. in NT, the Advent, Ev.Matt.24.27, al.

 

[page 8]

Better sources for the meaning would be contemporary sources to the Greek Scriptures.

Therefore, a better set of resources to start with might be the ones referenced in this book which has a preview on Google Books: 

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I might type out some of it, or at least I'll snap a screenshot of parts of page 150 and 151, another quote comes from page 158:

A further source of background material that has bearing on our study is found when one explores the meaning and use of the term parousia before and during the New Testament period. The word means "presence" or "arrival." From the Ptolemaic period to the second century A.D. there is clear evidence that the term was used for the arrival of a ruler, king or emperor. The Latin equivalent was adventus. For instance, a third-century B.C. papyrus refers to a crown of gold to be presented to a king at his parousia.6 Or again a parousia of King Ptolemy the Second (circa 113 B.C.), who called himself soter, is expected and it is said "the provision of 80 artabae ... was imposed for the tou Basileos parousian...."7Such examples from both the Hellenistic and Roman periods could be multiplied. For example, in memory of the visit of Nero to Corinth, special adventus/parousia coins were cast that read Adventus aug[usti] Cor[inthi].8 These coins were cast during the general period when Paul was writing to Corinth (1 Cor 15:23).

Equally interesting is the evidence G. D. Kilpatrick has collected showing that "parousia" often was the Hellenistic term for a theophany.9 For instance, in the Greek form of the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, at Testament of Judah 22:3(2) and Testament of Levi 8:15(11), we find it used to refer to the final coming of God. Josephus uses the term parousia for the divine appearances in the Old Testament theophanies (Ant. 3.80, 202-3; 9.55; compare 18.284).

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Thank you for the good outlay of the date of Cyrus's capture of Babylon.  I studied it years ago and frankly I do not have to prove it to myself again.  But as you say -  IF the Persian rule began in 538 BCE  (most scholars put it at 539 BCE such as quoted from Wikipedia -       " After the fall of Babylon to the Persian king

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in 539 BCE, exiled Judeans were permitted to return to Judah.
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According to the biblical
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, construction of the
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began around 537 BCE."   

So if the call went out in 538 BCE or 539 BCE by secular confirmation - then it could have taken them up to a year or even two to get ready and trek the distance to Jerusalem.  So this could easily have brought the secular date to 537 BCE as indicated by the date in Wikipedia....

The Bible prophesied that they will be in captivity 70 years (most secular historians put their captivity at 50 years but Jehovah said it would be 70 - so we stick to 70 if we really believe in Jehovah's word)..... Count seventy years back from 537 BCE then you get to 607 BCE....... and you have your date for the true date for the fall of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.  ...... So 1914 is not such a "murky' date after all!     ..........

I have looked at these dates before ...... and most of the Assyrian dates such as the fall of Nineveh is not absolutely set in stone but the ONE date on which most historians agree is the date of Cyrus the Great...... . As I have indicated before in my replies here on this website - even the Egyptian chronology is on shaky grounds and most scholars do not trust the Bible!.

To understand the  ' reality ' of the bible one needs a time-line and chronology and proof that the entire message in its various segments of time - came true - on time.   This is why I can show Muslims that Jesus is the 'true messenger' because of his genealogy of 2025 years and the accurate prophecy about the time of his birth.  Why did Jehovah give these prophecies if he did not think that we "need to understand them" at a certain time in the timeline ......and we can search and study and find these things out?  He foresaw that we will discover more about history and that ' knowledge would abound in the time of the end."

Daniel 12: 

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 “And those having insight will shine as brightly as the expanse of heaven, and those bringing the many to righteousness like the stars, forever and ever.
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 “As for you, Daniel, keep the words secret, and seal up the book until the time of the end.
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Many will rove about,
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and the true knowledge will become abundant.” (This scripture also indicates a period in the time of the end!)

The beasts and the understanding that there would be several world powers gives us a sense of the "reality of Jehovah because it gives us a better sense of the timeline and came true as prophesied.   Also Daniel 2:  

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 “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up/begin building a kingdom
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that will never be destroyed.
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Those anointed who have died have received the "first resurrection" and are invisibly ruling.  The rest will be 'changed in an instant' after they have been sealed.   The timeline of this "first resurrection" is linked to the Kingdom beginning invisibly to human eyes.  The rest of mankind will be resurrected during the 1000 years as stipulated in Revelation 20:1-3. 

So one believes these realities because everything in the timeline fits into each other perfectly like a glove - the logic of it!

Even the test of every earthly "perfect" person at the end of the thousand years proves that Jehovah was thinking of every possibility when he inspired people who write down his thoughts.  No human could have conspired and foreseen that we need rulers in heaven who were imperfect beings on earth before being resurrected to heaven..... and that earthly humans will need to undergo the same test as Adam before they are granted ever lasting life.

I do not believe in dissecting a few words in one little chapter of the bible and throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  One can become too scholarly on only a few words and then become so obsessive about it and forget to take note of the entire long-term plan and the logic of Jehovah.   Jehovah is a perfect timekeeper.

When I look at USA politics I see the same frame of mind.   People looking at things so shortsightedly- the overall picture and the next 10 or 20 years are never planned for.  In the study of the bible we can also be shortsighted and not look at the long-term or overall plan/purpose of Jehovah and get bogged down in measly little details that can make one lose faith and doubting Jehovah and his very imperfect slave which he is using by his eternal grace and mercy.

I mean to bring my thoughts over - not in a derogatory way but in a way which can make my fellow believers think of things in the overall time-line of Jehovah's purpose.   Eph 1:9  after all shows that Jehovah has worked throughout the ages on "the administration" the management of his purpose.....  So we must grow to maturity and study deeper to understand how the time-flow interacted with his purpose. Once one sees the entire chronology and the purpose - how it unfolded  -this helps to really understand the "realities" Jehovah has given us.

Eph 1:9"by making known to us the sacred secret

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of his will. It is according to his good pleasure that he himself purposed
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 for an administration
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at the full limit of the appointed times, to gather all things together in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth.
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Yes, in him.

We understand the sacred secret now  - a government that will start ruling invisibly in heaven with a first resurrection..... etc. which will bring everything in heaven and earth together.  Clouds -  Only Jesus's apostles saw him go up to heaven in clouds..... Similarly the anointed would understand when he started to rule (shrouded in clouds) ....... but the day and hour no-one knows.

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 “I kept watching in the visions of the night, and look! with the clouds of the heavens, someone like a son of man
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was coming; and he gained access to the Ancient of Days,
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and they brought him up close before that One.
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 And to him there were given rulership,
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honor,
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and a kingdom, that the peoples, nations, and language groups should all serve him.
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His rulership is an everlasting rulership that will not pass away, and his kingdom will not be destroyed.
    Hello guest!
 

 

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2 hours ago, Arauna said:

The Bible prophesied that they will be in captivity 70 years (most secular historians put their captivity at 50 years but Jehovah said it would be 70 - so we stick to 70 if we really believe in Jehovah's word)..... Count seventy years back from 537 BCE then you get to 607 BCE....... and you have your date for the true date for the fall of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.  ...... So 1914 is not such a "murky' date after all!     ..........

Yes, but remember that the Bible never says to count back 70 years from 537. It says that the Babylonians would be given 70 years of rule over the nations around them.

(Jeremiah 25:11, 12) 11 And all this land will be reduced to ruins and will become an object of horror, and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon for 70 years.”’ 12 “‘But when 70 years have been fulfilled, I will call to account the king of Babylon and that nation for their error,’ declares Jehovah, ‘and I will make the land of the Chal·de?ans a desolate wasteland for all time.

And Babylon was to be called to account at the end of those 70 years when Babylon was captured by Cyrus in 539. At that point there was no Babylon Empire anymore, it was merely a part of the Medo-Persian empire ruled by Cyrus. This is why the 70 years were never said to end when the Jews came back to Jerusalem, but when Cyrus captured Babylon.

(2 Chronicles 36:20-23) 20 He carried off captive to Babylon those who escaped the sword, and they became servants to him and his sons until the kingdom of Persia began to reign, 21 to fulfill Jehovah’s word spoken by Jeremiah, until the land had paid off its sabbaths. All the days it lay desolate it kept sabbath, to fulfill 70 years. 22 In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order that Jehovah’s word spoken by Jeremiah would be fulfilled, Jehovah stirred the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his kingdom, which he also put in writing, saying: 23 “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says, ‘Jehovah the God of the heavens has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has commissioned me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all his people, may Jehovah his God be with him, and let him go up.’”

So, this claim about 537 is actually just a necessary adjustment that is neither Biblical nor secular. It's just a way to work around the Bible's clear statement that the 70 years were over when Persia began to rule. We both agree that this was 539, but 539 would give us a starting date of 609. (Russell didn't have this problem because he thought Cyrus started in 536 and so Russell just counted back to 606 and left it at that. Of course, he also made the mistake of thinking that 606 was 2,520 years prior to 1914.)

When I used the date 538 for the decree, I was using the last possible meaning of the term "first year of King Cyrus" (2 Chron 36:22). If the prior year 539 is meant, then it would be very likely that the Jews actually returned to Jerusalem in 539, not 538. (Unless we think that most of the Jews might just want to hang around an extra few months or up to two years after they were free to go.) Nothing in the Bible says they waited until 537 if the decree was made in 539. And if the decree was made in the first official FULL year of Cyrus (538) then there is still no reason to think that they waited until 537. 537, as I said, is just a necessary adjustment the Watch Tower publications are required to make in order for 1914 to appear valid.

We don't know how much of that time period during Babylon's "70 years" that the land of Israel and Judah needed to lay completley desolate. Perhaps it was 7 times 7 years (49 years) or perhaps it was 70 x 7 years (490 years) or perhaps it was only that it needed to start paying off its sabbaths when desolations and deportations started at the very beginning of Babylonian rule nearly a full 70 years prior to 539, when Nebuchadnezzar was still "tramping about" in "Hatti-land" as a general under his father's rulership. No matter when it started, and for how many years it continued, we know it finally got to a point of such desolation that it therefore finally paid off its sabbaths. But we do know that any fulfillment of the sabbath on the land was only possible because Babylon was given 70 years of "Empire" to desolate the nations all around it. That "70 years of Babylonian Empire" is what fulfilled the word of Jeremiah, and what got Judah to a point where it paid off its sabbaths during the fulfillment of Babylon's 70 years.

This point was made clear in the discussion of Tyre in the Isaiah's Prophecy book:

*** ip-1 chap. 19 p. 253 par. 21 Jehovah Profanes the Pride of Tyre ***
21 Isaiah goes on to prophesy: “It must occur in that day that Tyre must be forgotten seventy years, the same as the days of one king.” (Isaiah 23:15a) Following the destruction of the mainland city by the Babylonians, the island-city of Tyre will “be forgotten.” True to the prophecy, for the duration of “one king”—the Babylonian Empire—the island-city of Tyre will not be an important financial power. Jehovah, through Jeremiah, includes Tyre among the nations that will be singled out to drink the wine of His rage. He says: “These nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” (Jeremiah 25:8-17, 22, 27) True, the island-city of Tyre is not subject to Babylon for a full 70 years, since the Babylonian Empire falls in 539 B.C.E. Evidently, the 70 years represents the period of Babylonia’s greatest domination—when the Babylonian royal dynasty boasts of having lifted its throne even above “the stars of God.” (Isaiah 14:13) Different nations come under that domination at different times. But at the end of 70 years, that domination will crumble.

By the way, you can't say that 607 is the true date of the fall of Jerusalem by counting back from 539 either. You have to remember where you got this secular date of 539 from. You can't claim that Cyrus destroyed Babylon in 539 unless you are accepting the timeline that puts Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year in 586. Do you believe the Bible made a mistake when it identifies Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year as the time when Jerusalem was destroyed? By saying it was 607, you are claiming that it was in Nabopolassar's last two years, two years prior to Nebuchadnezzar's first full regnal year. You can't just say you want to select a portion of the timeline, because the timeline is completely interconnected, and every new piece of evidence, so far, has confirmed the correctness of the interconnected timeline. (And there have literally been THOUSANDS of pieces of interconnected evidence.)

It's exactly the same as if you said that your great-great-grandmother told you that the "Civil War" in the United States lasted about 25 years. She says it was from 1840-1865. You could repeat 1,500 times that this means the civil war started in 1840/1841, but it wouldn't prove anything. (The Watchtower Library CD repeats the date 607 about 1,500 times.) You could always point to the "true and clear" secular, historical evidence that it ended in 1865 and show how you are counting backwards correctly. The problem is that you would be ignoring that the SAME sources of "true and clear" secular, historical evidence show that it started in 1861. So, if you really want your 25 years, what keeps you from claiming that 1861 is correct for a start date and that it must therefore have ENDED around 1885/1886? You are making the exact same mistake either way.

This is why you can't use the date 539 as a correct date if you are going to say that 586 for Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year is incorrect. Once you change Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year you are no longer saying that 539 is correct.

Besides, even after all this, 1914 would still be a murky date because there is no Biblical evidence that says that 7 times would pass after Jerusalem's destruction until the Messiah would reign again. Even if it did, you would not know if 7 times meant 7 360-day years. Even if it did, you would not know if 7 years meant 2,520 365.25-day years. These are all just guesses.

If 1914 were so clear, why did the Watchtower begin saying that the Gentile Times ended in 1915 for a while? The following is the Watch Tower, January 1, 1916, p.4.

 

1916page4wt.png

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What part of this scripture does not fit in with your theory?

Daniel 9:2  "

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 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, discerned by the books
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the number of years mentioned in the word of Jehovah to Jeremiah the prophet to fulfill the desolation of Jerusalem,
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namely, 70 years.
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So I turned my face to Jehovah the true God, entreating him in prayer, along with fasting
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and sackcloth and ashes.
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 I prayed to Jehovah my God and made confession and said:
“O Jehovah the true God, the great and awe-inspiring One, who keeps his covenant and shows loyal love
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to those who love him and keep his commandments,
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    Hello guest!

you said: "the Bible never says to count back 70 years from 537"

If Daniel discerned the 70 years to be coming to an END in the first year of the new king's reign .......  than it is making a LOGICAL deduction from a secularly accepted date for the return to Jerusalem such as 537 BCE..... to add 70 years to determine the date of the BEGINNING OF THE 70 YEARS......when this king started his reign.....607 BCE 

(It is totally logical and I am sure any mathematician would agree. I did a lot of those kind of arithmetic exercises as a child..... ....If the end of the period is 1924 and the number of years that passed are10 ten, what would you say is the start of the period?  )

The other arguments about the 19 th year of Nebuchadnezzar is weak - I am not even going to go there.... You bring me a secular date that is more accurate then 539 BCE, which is the only one which most scholars agree on.... and we all know that secular dates are more shaky than Biblical dates.   

Israel had to organize itself to meet together  at a certain time to trek across a desert area - they had to trek with their belongings...... with children and had no protection.  As I said before ...they did not have cars and internet etc... it took a long time to organize and do the moving and settling and then only could they start the building!   So yes - it is not unreasonable to expect to took more than a year.    

I believe the Bible to be correct and I think the slave has done some excellent research.   ... Go and read  Chronology in the Insight Book and you will see the many different reasons and calculations they use for getting to the same year that most secular historians as well as the Jewish scholars reach as 539 BCE- and Jewish scholars also put the return at 537 BCE. 

The Insight book goes into the many eclipses etc..... and it also goes into the counting of the years which you refer to as 19 years ..... because there is no year 0  and also cardinal and ordinal numbers also changes the months and possibly the year....It also gives the secular sources of the year 539 etc etc... Read the entire Chronology section PLEASE!

I am sure that after you have read the evidence you will rethink some of your own ideas.... and hopefully those persons who agree with you as well!

I know that they regularly update this information in the insight book (I think they ask scholars  because I am aware of a brother who is a scholar in the field) . I have read some of the historical articles many years ago when I was studying the history of Sumeria and Babylon and managed to get my hands on some of the books quoted at the time....some of the information has now been updated.

Good reading to you.... as a matter of fact I will go through it myself again!

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2 hours ago, Arauna said:

What part of this scripture does not fit in with your theory?

Daniel 9:2  "

    Hello guest!
 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, discerned by the books
    Hello guest!
the number of years mentioned in the word of Jehovah to Jeremiah the prophet to fulfill the desolation of Jerusalem,
    Hello guest!
namely, 70 years.
    Hello guest!
    Hello guest!
 
So I turned my face to Jehovah the true God, entreating him in prayer, along with fasting
    Hello guest!
and sackcloth and ashes.
    Hello guest!
 I prayed to Jehovah my God and made confession and said:
“O Jehovah the true God, the great and awe-inspiring One, who keeps his covenant and shows loyal love
    Hello guest!
to those who love him and keep his commandments,
    Hello guest!
    Hello guest!

@Arauna Thanks for responding. Daniel 9:2 fits the Biblical theory perfectly. (I haven't forgotten some of the previous points you have made that I haven't responded to yet, but I'll work backwards from this latest post of yours.)

Daniel 9:2 references the book of Jeremiah directly. Since Jeremiah is the book that Daniel bases his statement on, we should look there first. Jeremiah was already quoted above where it says that Babylon would be given 70 years of rulership over the nations around them. We also know from the context that Jerusalem and other nations were going to be punished through this 70 years given to Babylon. As the Isaiah book said: not all nations would go through their punishments for the same numbers of year. (The "seventy years" for Tyre to be forgotten evidently turned out to be about 17 years.) Jerusalem was ultimately to be desolated per Jeremiah too. But Jeremiah does NOT put a specific number of years on Jerusalem's desolation. But it is still obvious that it is through those 70 years of Babylonian domination that Jerusalem would be desolated. Jerusalem's desolation comes through, or because of, the 70 years given for Babylonian domination.

That might sound convoluted, but it's based on what Jeremiah says. Also, it might well explain why the statement in Daniel 9:2 is admittedly difficult to translate. But it's pretty clear that it means what it says, just what the NWT says. The meaning is probably more like:

Daniel discerned by reading the sacred books that Jeremiah had mentioned "the 70 years" and that the end of these 70 years would fulfill the desolation of Jerusalem . . .[therefore now that Babylon has had her 70 years, it must now be time for Jehovah to fulfill his promise to look with favor again upon Jerusalem.]  . . .therefore [quoting from the NWT]  "Do open your eyes and see our desolate condition and the city that has been called by your name; for we are not entreating you because of our righteous acts but because of your great mercy. O Jehovah, do hear. O Jehovah, do forgive. O Jehovah, do pay attention and act! Do not delay, for your own sake, O my God, for your own name has been called upon your city and upon your people.”

One way we know that this is the general meaning is that Daniel had just told Belshazzar:

(Daniel 5:26-30) . . .God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end. . . . your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.”. . . 30 That very night Bel·shazʹzar the Chal·deʹan king was killed.

Recall that Daniel 7 goes back in time to Belshazzar's first year, chapter 8 starts out in Belshazzar's third year, and in Daniel 9 Darius has just started his reign. This is the first verse mentioned with reference to Darius: "

(Daniel 9:1, 2) In the first year of Da·riʹus the son of A·has·u·eʹrus—a descendant of the Medes who had been made king over the kingdom of the Chal·deʹans— 2 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, discerned by the books the number of years mentioned in the word of Jehovah to Jeremiah . . .

So this is the obvious time to realize that the 70 years should be up. 2 Chronicles, mentioned above, also said that the 70 years would continue right up until the time that "the kingdom of Persian began to reign."  70 years of Babylonian rulership was now fulfilled and it was now time for such a prayer as Daniel made to pray that the hearts of the Jews had turned back and Jehovah would fulfill his "good promise."

(Jeremiah 29:10, 13 NIV) This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. . . . Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

2 hours ago, Arauna said:

you said: "the Bible never says to count back 70 years from 537"

If Daniel discerned the 70 years to be coming to an END in the first year of the new king's reign .......  than it is making a LOGICAL deduction from a secularly accepted date for the return to Jerusalem such as 537 BCE..... to add 70 years to determine the date of the BEGINNING OF THE 70 YEARS......when this king started his reign.....607 BCE 

That is quite possible. What I said was that the Bible never says to count back from 537. This is for THREE reasons.

  1. The Bible never says that the number of years given to Babylon (70) would continue for any length of time after a king of Persia began to reign. This very well could have been 539 the very year that Cyrus captured Babylon and killed Belshazzar. Even if the Jews had remained another 5, 25 or 75 more years in Babylon (many did), those 70 years would still have been completed back in 539. It's quite possible that the Jews weren't prepared to go back immediately, or there was a delay in the exact timing of the decree by Cyrus to release them. But even if this was true, it doesn't change the time when the Bible said the 70 years were completed.
  2. The other reason I mentioned that the Bible never says to count back 70 years from 537 is that the Bible never mentions 539, 538, or 537. Those are secular dates, not Biblical dates. The closest we can get to in the Bible is know that it was after a certain number of years during a certain king's reign and before a certain number of years of that king's or another king's reign. The only way you or I can state with any certainty that a number like 538 or 587 or 607 should be attached to one of those dates is through a synchronization with evidence provided through secular evidence OUTSIDE the Bible.
  3. Your point was that this was the method to reach the "true date" for the destruction of Jerusalem. The Bible never says that the 70 years start counting from the destruction of Jerusalem. So even if the 70 years turns out to start in 607, that doesn't mean that Jerusalem was destroyed in that date. (Besides, the same point made in the previous post still stands: if you believe you can put a number like 539 on the first year or "ascension year" of Cyrus, then this is the same as claiming that the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar was 586. Otherwise you have no right to claim that 539 was that "ascension year" of Cyrus.)

However, I would say that we have enough evidence to say that the 70 years most likely did end in 539 or possibly 538 at the latest.

(Ezra 1:1) In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order that Jehovah’s word spoken by Jeremiah would be fulfilled, . . .

(Ezra 3:1) When the seventh month arrived and the Israelites were in their cities, they gathered together with one accord in Jerusalem.

The Jews could have returned in 539 or 538. (It's much less likely but you are right in that they COULD have even returned in 537.) It's not based on the time the Jews returned, but if the term "70 years" was meant to be an exact number, it's true that the 70 years of Babylonian supremacy could have started in 609 or 608. I could even accept that it started in 607 as long as we can accept that the 70 years could contain "parts of 70 years" just as Jesus was in the grave for "parts of 3 days" even though that can be accomplished, technically, in just over 24 hours . . . and we assume it was over 30 hours.

So yes, based on evidence, 607 is a possible date for the beginning of the 70 years. Based on that same evidence, it is IMPOSSIBLE for 607 to be the date when Jerusalem was destroyed. But that is not important, because the Bible never said that Babylonian supremacy would start at that point anyway. Babylon began desolating the nations all around, which would include Judea, as early as 609, the year that the previous "world empire" (Assyrian) fell and began being absorbed into the Babylonian power structure.

To keep each of these posts a bit shorter, I'll stop this one for now and pick up on your next points later. Thanks again.

 

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5 hours ago, Arauna said:

The other arguments about the 19 th year of Nebuchadnezzar is weak - I am not even going to go there.... You bring me a secular date that is more accurate then 539 BCE, which is the only one which most scholars agree on.... and we all know that secular dates are more shaky than Biblical dates.

The part I highlighted is, unfortunately, a completely false statement. It's true, as you said before, that Egyptian and Assyrian chronology is not as well corroborated with astronomical data and other synchronizing evidence. But it's the entire period of the Neo-Babylonian empire which includes Kings from Nabopolassar to Cyrus which is probably the most well-corroborated of all the ancient chronologies. The first astronomical diaries which can produce "absolute dates" and can be corroborated with independent lines of evidence start becoming available in the 7th and 6th centuries B.C.E. But they become much more numerous after that. These continue well into the Persian and Greek kingdoms, even to the first century C.E. But it's the sheer number of dated tablets, astronomical diaries, and royal chronologies along with additional records by later historians that all work together to confirm the ENTIRE timeline. You could even lose some of the independent lines of evidence and still have enough evidence to completely piece together the entire Neo-Babylonian period. For example, you don't need "Ptolemy's Canon" at all anymore to know when Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year began, or when Cyrus' 1st year began, even though it was once considered essential.

If anyone tells you that 539 is more accurate than any other date within the time period, then you should watch out for any of the following three possibilities:

  1. They are misinformed
  2. They are dishonest
  3. They are exaggerating a point because they are referring to the fact that there are very few major events recorded during this time period that are of much historical interest outside of the records themselves, and therefore the fact that Cyrus captured Babylon is one of those events of at last moderate outside historical interest. So, being able to attach an accurate date to this particular event is of some interest to scholars and historians, and therefore makes it one of most talked about dates of that period. But this does not mean it is any more accurate than the 8th year of Cyrus, or the 4th year of Nebuchadnezzar, or the 15th year of Nabopolassar, or the 2nd year of Nabonidus, etc.

Based on point number 3, just mentioned, I would say that the secular date of 597 for the siege of Jerusalem in Nebuchadnezzar's 7th year, as mentioned in Jeremiah 52:28 and 2 Kings 24:11,12 and 2 Chronicles 36:10 is actually attested to (both directly and indirectly) by even more independent Neo-Babylonian and near contemporary sources than 539 is, but this still makes it JUST AS accurate, not MORE accurate than 539. It's all part of an interconnected chronology. (And, of course, using the Bible, it becomes easy to see that if 597 is accurate, then Jerusalem must have been destroyed in 587/6 B.C.E.)

Actually, I'd have to say that even the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar, 586, which you called "weak" is slightly better attested to, from more independent sources, than the 539 date. But again, this does not make it more accurate than 539. But it does not make it less accurate either.

The Bible itself adds additional weight for each of these dates, 597, 587/6, and 539, and thus the accuracy of the Bible is here supported by archaeology and secular chronology. Once again we have evidence that the Bible harmonizes as a book of history. We often point this out when an archaeological discovery is made about a person or place named in the Bible. So, it's actually a shame that with all the overwhelming data available for the Neo-Babylonian period, we are just about the only Judeo-Christian religion that can't admit that the Bible's record is shown to be corroborated by secular, historical and archaeological records in this case.

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5 hours ago, Arauna said:

...and we all know that secular dates are more shaky than Biblical dates.   

In order to figure out Biblical dates don't we have to rely on secular dates? As far as I am aware the Bible does not give any dates, it merely gives reignal years of kings, i.e 19th year etc. and in order to find out the actual year in history one has to consult ancient secular chronicles and calendars etc....

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@AllenSmith,

I appreciate the scriptures you quoted as they completely coincide with these same points already made. But I can't quite figure out why you also said the following at the top of your post before you mentioned the scriptural points:

1 hour ago, AllenSmith said:

Example 1:  of many disingenuous comments by the “POSTER” that would be in error to suggest Jesus disciples were unaware of Christ invisible return in Matthew since that “wasn’t” something they had in mind at that time. [. . . .] Therefore, the reference of the Watchtower admitting of something they hadn’t considered themselves is inconsistent with the Watchtower teachings.

I already agree 100% with the portion I left out, [ . . . ] but I'm wondering what the remaining part means. Are you saying you just don't like the word "admitting," or are you saying that when the Watchtower said the following, below, that they were actually wrong or they were inconsistent with their own teachings?

*** w64 9/15 p. 575 Questions From Readers ***
At Matthew 24:3, when Jesus’ disciples asked him about the “sign” of his presence, what did they have in mind, since later events show that they did not at that time understand that it would be an invisible presence? . . . [Answer]. . . But not yet having received holy spirit, they did not appreciate that he would not sit on an earthly throne; they had no idea that he would rule as a glorious spirit from the heavens and therefore did not know that his second presence would be invisible

If so, in what way were they wrong? In what way were they inconsistent? Is there a place where the Watchtower changed its view and said that the disciples actually were concerned about a possible invisible presence?

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2 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

Since the "librarian" doesn't allow me to confront questions given to me by the regular commentators that are defended by the moderator?  I can simply say the Watchtower is correct to suggest the disciple's interest was of establishing an earthly kingdom NOT a heavenly Kingdom. So, the suggestion of the disciples having considered an invisible kingdom or the return of Christ(Invisibly) has been distorted for that time period. Reread my post, thank you!

As far as I know, this first sentence is not true. Whenever anyone wishes to confront a question you have all the leeway you need, exactly as everyone else does. It's always been up to you if you wish to respond to a question or not. When I re-read your post, I have the same question because you didn't answer it. It's not a problem if you don't wish to or even if you have some other agenda, like the one you point out below.

2 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

My only concern here is to allow visitors to this website NOT read here what they would normally be accustomed to reading in apostate sites. If anyone wishes to refute my comments, then do so by the grace of God, not by past understandings that have been revised to meet the needs and understanding by each generation.

I understand your concern. But if you are saying that the information I stated was a "past understanding" then I never saw or remember the place where this "past" understanding was ever corrected. I think I know of a couple of Watchtower articles that imply that there could have been a few different ideas in the minds of the disciples, but there has not been any clear statement that the disciples asked the question with the idea that these words about a parousia or a synteleia would refer to an invisible presence. Yet, we do have this clear statement that they had no idea about an invisible presence. 

If you are saying that your only concern or agenda here was some kind of obfuscation to highlight the idea that this kind of discussion reminds you of apostate content, then I can assure you that it is based solely on Biblical study, prayer, research, and reason, and a very strong attempt to give all possible "benefit of the doubt" to the Watch Tower publications first.

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I do not have time to respond to all comments but it is absolutely clear to me that NONE of you have taken the time to really study the entire sections on Chronology as set out in the Insight book.   And -"NO"- the Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronologies are NOT firmly established! ... There is too little reliable evidence for that.  I read some of the (translated) lists and I was not impressed when I investigated these things......... .. .  The Insight book also gives good reasons WHY they are not trustworthy..... while the Bible chronology is very well set out. 

One does not need secular dates to establish bible chronology - but some people are not happy if they do not receive this. One can count the years from the date of creation of Adam until today......(go and look in the Insight book!  it is all there! ) As I said before - we do not need any secular dates to corroborate the Bible because one can pinpoint the date of the start of Jesus' baptism in the year 29 CE (because there was no year 0) and work BACK! as well -  and it still gets one to the same numbers and dates!

I think you are enamored of you own scholarly endeavors and pushing your own ideas above those of a groups of researchers from our organization who have all contributed to these articles and who have been looking at all possible evidences.  Yes they are fallible but their arguments are more acceptable to me than the ones I have seen here on these pages.

And I said before the bible chronology is part of Jehovah's PURPOSE.... see how the chronology fits in with his purpose....

 

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6 hours ago, Arauna said:

I believe the Bible to be correct and I think the slave has done some excellent research.   ... Go and read  Chronology in the Insight Book and you will see the many different reasons and calculations they use for getting to the same year that most secular historians as well as the Jewish scholars reach as 539 BCE- and Jewish scholars also put the return at 537 BCE. 

The Insight book goes into the many eclipses etc..... and it also goes into the counting of the years which you refer to as 19 years ..... because there is no year 0  and also cardinal and ordinal numbers also changes the months and possibly the year....It also gives the secular sources of the year 539 etc etc... Read the entire Chronology section PLEASE!

I am sure that after you have read the evidence you will rethink some of your own ideas.... and hopefully those persons who agree with you as well!

Yes, I believe the Bible to be correct, too, of course, and I agree that in the Insight book we have a wealth of excellent research. I am re-reading the Chronology article there and am looking at ALL the different reasons and calculations they use for getting to 539 BCE. I will go ahead and read the entire Chronology section again before I hit "Submit Reply." I will give it a completely open mind, and will only make notes that are positive and supportive of the article along the way.

...

...

...

Not done yet! I have read it twice before, and very carefully at that! But I'm giving it another go and will not be done before tomorrow, perhaps noon. I did see your last post as a reminder.
 

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Your style of response is not clear. I'm not sure if that was on purpose, but I will do my best to comment by including comments interspersed within the quotation of your post below. Your comments are in blue, so mine will be formatted in black, primarily. I don't know who is doing the asserting of all the dates you quote, and I assume there may at times be more than one possible reading or supposition about certain dates. If I recognize the specific secular date as one in which research provides evidence that it is correct and that it also finds support in the Bible, I will label it "Bible-supported secular date(s)." 539 for the capture of Babylon is a Bible-supported secular date which you and others have agreed with, too. 607 for the destruction of Jerusalem is a non-Bible supported, non-secular date for that event. 607 for the rebellion of Jehoiakim might come within a year or so of the Bible-supported secular date synchronized with that event. (I have never worried about arguing over +-1 or even +-2 years in some cases.)

1 hour ago, AllenSmith said:

Example 2: The assertions with dates.

Whose assertions? Yours? Secularized? Suggested as improvements over the Watchtower's dates? Likely the presentation that both the secular and the Watchtower version of the chronology may both have enough merit to get you to the same point in 607 as a start of the downfall that brings destruction and desolation on Jerusalem. Even from two different perspectives 607 is reachable.

Appointments ran concurrently after the death of King Josiah 609BC

*** it-2 p. 118 Josiah ***
Toward the close of Josiah’s 31-year reign (659-629 B.C.E.)

You are using the Bible-supported secular dates here. The Insight book calls this date 629, not 609. (I know you are already aware that these dates use the secular basis, but not everyone will be aware of that.)

Egyptian appointed vessel Jehoahaz 3 months 609BC

*** it-1 p. 1265 Jehoahaz ***
Jehoahaz was 23 years old when made king, and he ruled badly for three months in the early part of the year 628 B.C.E

You are using 609; likely a Bible-supported secular date. Insight shows 628.

Babylonian appointed vessel Jehoiakim 609BC

*** it-1 p. 1268 Jehoiakim ***
Jehoiakim’s bad rule of about 11 years (628-618 B.C.E.)

You are using 609; likely a Bible-supported secular date; Insight uses 628.

1.609/8BC  2.608/7BC  3.607/6BC = 3 years 2 Kings 24:1

2 Kings 24:1 Context: Babylon Controls Jehoiakim

1In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant for three years; then he turned and rebelled against him. 607/6BC 

2 Kings 24:2 Context: Babylon Controls Jehoiakim 607/6BC

2The LORD sent against him bands of Chaldeans, bands of Arameans, bands of Moabites, and bands of Ammonites. So He sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD which He had spoken through His servants the prophets

Note from JWI: This is not the only way to count the years, as you know, but as I said before, this is not a place where I will quibble over 1 or even 2 years. You are still using the Biblically-supported secular years, here. Not the Watchtower's. In fact one method of counting starting from the Watchtower's date of 608/7 as year one, could also consider this to be a "0th year" so that 608/7 is the starting point of counting and 607/6 is the first year, 606/5 is the second year, and 605/4 is the third year. This is still not too far out of reach to make your point, but it does appear that the latter method might come a little closer to the Biblically-supported secular accuracy, since other evidence doesn't have Nebuchadnezzar coming up until 605 and 604 might have been his first full regnal year.

So, 2 Kings 24:2 indicates Jehoiakim rebelled after 3 years. However, it doesn’t “State” that Prince (King) Nebuchadnezzar would set out to “DESTROY” Judah. Daniel states in Daniel 1:1 that King Nebuchadnezzar “Besieged” Jerusalem. The Destruction would come from GOD through the prophets by means of “missionaries” from many nations. So, it could be said that “destruction” commenced in 607/6BC

Note from JWI: This is very close to the way I understand it. However, I also understand that Babylon (not necessarily Nebuchadnezzar specifically) was given its surest path to rising power after Assyria began to fall in 612 and therefore especially through 609. The specific actions that would start against Judah and Jerusalem need not start immediately, just as with Tyre in the prophecy of Isaiah. But I do believe that the first desolations began about when you say, within a year or so of 606. 

Now under secular history, King Nebuchadnezzar was NOT yet King until 2 years later. Then Prince Nebuchadnezzar could have been foreseen as King since the “Prince” had already started commanding his own ARMY before he became King. Another indication of the Prince being seen as King as a “General” and “Commander”, alongside King Nabopolassar.(Co-Regent)

Note from JWI: Never had a problem with that. I have suggested it as a possibility in a thread a couple years ago. Also note that in the Bible "Nebuchadnezzar" became almost synonymous with the dynasty, even to the point where his successors were spoken of as if they were his son and grandson. So it is even possible that anyone from Babylon or through Babylon's permission even, could be counted, even Nabopolassar. But I think your suggestion here is more likely.

Another thing secular history doesn’t consider is, King Nabopolassar was becoming frail and ill. Another reason why Prince Nebuchadnezzar might have stepped in for his Father to take “control” of the matters of state at that time. History does show Prince Nebuchadnezzar “racing” back” to Babylon upon hearing of his father’s death. A feat he accomplished in just 3 weeks in 605BC from Carchemish to Babylon according to history. 1,167 kilometers that would take a mere 15 hours today, but according to opposers, Nebuchadnezzar had the best of the best, top of the line super fast “horses” back then.  

Note from JWI: I don't know why you say history doesn't consider this. It's such a common historical feature of dynasties and intrigues and in the avoidance of potential coups. Also, I don't know why you need to focus on "opposers." Remember, if you are the one taking a stand against a bit of historical evidence then you are the "opposer." As I've said before, it wouldn't surprise me if there was just a bit of exaggeration here. But the main point is that he raced back in order to claim the throne within 3 weeks. So what if it took him 4 weeks? It was usual for the top horses to be assigned to the King's family, and we have no reason to doubt that he was already a wealthy prince.

Now common sense should dictate that King Nabopolassar didn’t hand over the “reign” to Prince Nebuchadnezzar? Since he was already dead, so, that last will and testament must have been given to Nebuchadnezzar earlier by “Proclamation” to all within Nabopolassar government. However, there is a suggestion in history to indicate before someone from the royal line received the royal crown? The next in line needed to be seated on the throne which gave the Prince the urgency to return home.

Reasonable.

So, could Jeremiah have seen Prince Nebuchadnezzar as King? YES! It could also be that on the 19-year indicated in scripture, it could be referring to the 19-secular year of Nabopolassar.

For the first part, Yes. For the second part, NO. I already know why you think it is possible from previous posts and hints, but I can give several good reasons why it isn't going to work out. Not yet, not now, however.

Now, apostates, skeptics, and opposers argue that 587BC is the actual destruction of Jerusalem. However, what they don’t see is their own “errors” if we use their secular history to “prove” 607/6BC to be CORRECT. If one takes Jeremiah 52:12-17 Context: The Temple and the City Burned

Again, what's all this reference to apostates, skeptics, and opposers? People who have full faith in the Bible also believe that 587 (+- 1 year) is the correct date. I believe it and I am very happy that the Bible is corroborated by secular records and archaeology. We don't need such corroboration to have faith in the Bible, but it is a good thing to remember when discussing the Bible with skeptics. Also, it might not sound right to you, but almost ALL persons who have studied the chronology of this period use the 587 +-1/yr date. That makes you and most other Witnesses, the "opposers." And while we are at it, we are all apostates from our prior beliefs. This includes yourself. If you once believed, for example, that the FDS was the entire remnant of the 144,000 at any given time on earth, and you now believe they are only the GB, that makes you an apostate from your prior belief system. The same is true of those who have made a 20 year adjustment in when they believe that Jerusalem was destroyed. That includes me.

Again, however your specific point about how their secular history can be used to "prove" 607/6 to be correct is not really a new point, is it? Anyone who ends the 70 years around 539 is probably starting it around 609/8 which is only a couple years different. You can't use the terms "errors" or "prove" in your context above, because it's not necessarily that accurate, but I agree that it's close enough to consider.

Jeremiah 52:12-17 Context: The Temple and the City Burned

12 Nebuzaradan served the king of Babylon. In fact, he was commander of the royal guard. He came to Jerusalem. It was in the 19th year that Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon. It was on the tenth day of the fifth month. 13 Nebuzaradan set the Lord’s temple on fire. He also set fire to the royal palace and all the houses in Jerusalem. He burned down every important building. 14 The armies of Babylon broke down all the walls around Jerusalem. That’s what the commander told them to do. 15 Some of the poorest people still remained in the city along with the others. But the commander Nebuzaradan took them away as prisoners. He also took the rest of the skilled workers. That included the people who had joined the king of Babylon. 16 But Nebuzaradan left the rest of the poorest people of the land behind. He told them to work in the vineyards and fields. 17 The armies of Babylon destroyed the Lord’s temple. They broke the bronze pillars into pieces. They broke up the bronze stands that could be moved around. And they broke up the huge bronze bowl. Then they carried away all the bronze to Babylon.

When we go backward 19 years? We end up with 606BC. An inconsistent date for the acclaimed and famous years 587BC. A one-year difference on the proposed secular enthronement of Prince Nebuchadnezzar of 605BC.

Exactly (almost). By one way of counting, at least. I'm not getting why this would be a problem for anyone.

So, here we can see that Jeremiah is correct to start Nebuchadnezzar’s reign in 607/6BC. The 19 years referred to in scripture is actually the “time” given for the destruction of Judah by many incursions(Invasions-Attacks) that were made by the Babylonians and other nations.

It doesn't bother me, either.

Even if we extrapolate the 19 years from Nabopolassar Reign 626/5BC when Nebuchadnezzar became king according to scripture, it would end up in 607/6BC, and that was the “intent” that Jeremiah proposed in 2 King 24:2 by the defiance of King Jehoiakim in 607/6BC 3 years after he was made King, and was echoed by Daniel.

if you change scripture to Watchtower or WTS, then you could say that 626/5 was when Nebuchadnezzar became king according to the WTS. But I'm not so concerned with this theory. It's not necessary, and doesn't fit the evidence. And ultimately it doesn't fit the Bible, which is the best reason to reject it.

Here, of course, opposers would suggest the Watchtower would be wrong given secular facts, however, thier secular facts are inconsistent with their own secular chronological order as well. That's why scripture is more credible without actually being there, which many secular historians thrive on.

Just a plainly false statement. The secular chronology in this case shows that the scriptures are credible.

Therefore, suggesting one shouldn’t be dogmatic about 607BC, 1914AD, should also be accepted then, about the years 587BC and 539BC, that has been a "PET" project and a theme for about 2 years now. Opposers also suggest the Watchtower makes adjustments to fit their theory, while SECULAR history by means of opposers does the same, such as in VAT4956, 568BC.

Completely agree, of course, that one shouldn't be dogmatic about 607 or 1914. Dates of any kind, but especially the uses made from 587, 607, 539 and 1914 have absolutely no effect on my faith. If the Watchtower continues to make adjustments to their theory, I'm listening closely. It takes a lot of humility to admit a mistake after 120 years, but they have already humbly admitted to literally hundreds of them, and I'm sure those won't be the last.

 

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5 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

My only concern here is to allow visitors to this website NOT read here what they would normally be accustomed to reading in apostate sites.

My only Bethel contact, and one I've let grow cold, as I've not kept in touch, once told me that the closer one gets to the 'inside,' the more challenge it can be perceiving God's direction. Friends will marvel at how God has supplied just the right understanding at just the right time, and he will say "yeah, it's only because so-and-so is too stubborn to...."

THIS is how God 'works in mysterious ways,' to borrow a phrase the churches use when their doctrines have painted them into corners they cannot get out of. Jehovah does use an organization - it is evident if only by its accomplishments and unity - he uses imperfect men who have differences and opinions, and somehow hammers out leadership from them. To suggest otherwise is to suggest our critics are right - that JWs are brain-controlled zombies. No, they are regular people, with differences even at 'the top' and yet somehow God makes it all work.

If there is one thing I would gingerly suggest we do wrong, it is the frequently repeated admonition to stay away from any 'apostate reasoning' because it is like poison. I see why they do it - because the scriptures state they should - and yet it leads to almost a superstition among some of us that mere ideas are poisonous. In fact, the ideas are not poisonous; what is poisonous is many of the people who are pushing them.

So when you get off-the-grid thinking from someone who is decidedly not poisonous, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Whether it's great to put such stuff out there publicly is for others to say, but since countless persons have served in capacities in which they gain a glimpse into the inner workings, and there is an internet upon which they can write, it is unavoidable that some will. Frankly, the best way to handle such writing if someone deems it objectionable is to ignore it and let it drown in the boundless sea of online verbiage. You (and I) by our frequent comments are ensuring that does not happen, somewhat to the chagrin of JWI himself, I suspect, who says he deliberately chose a obscure forum to unload without being in-your-face about it. He assists in his own mission by posting comments so long that 98.9% will pass over them. I do. That is, I skim - not because I am uninterested, but because I have too much on my plate. No one can do everything and I leave such matters to those who have more affinity for it than I. They will refine and shift and ultimately something will come down through theocratic channels and I will say: "yep, it must work, because of the '900 languages.'"

Is it possible to become full-of-oneself or proud from too much expounding? Of course. "Knowledge puffs up," Paul says. But that is a caution, not a direction to avoid thought on that account. Theocratic publications are also a product of thinking. There are other factors that serve to keep one humble, such as full participation in the ministry, the drubbing one takes from life experiences, and the recognition that we ought not get too big for our britches ever because we can all go Alzheimer's, cancer, or run over by a truck, at a moment's notice.

5 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

If anyone wishes to refute my comments, then do so by the grace of God, not by past understandings that have been revised to meet the needs and understanding by each generation

I like this. I have added the italics. It is the reason that John differs from Matthew, Mark and Luke - the former was written decades later and the needs of the Christian community had changed. So it is with theocratic writings.

 

5 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

Then, as the "librarian" once told me, POST YOUR COMMENT, CALL IT GOOD, AND MOVE ON!!!!!

Sometimes you can spirit away the old hen and see if anyone will pony up to get her back. I have found she is not in such demand as she apparently thinks she is. Incidentally, humor, IMO, flavored with just the right mix of ridicule, is a great way to confront the poisonous persons I speak of, (though one must be careful with humor, especially ridicule, because it does not translate well) if you are unlucky enough to run across them. Expressing outrage and accusations - please forgive me for this because I know where you do it, it is because you are jealous for pure worship, as we should be - only makes them gleeful at getting such a rise out of us and encourages them to do more.

Again, to quote you: "My only concern here is to allow visitors to this website NOT read here what they would normally be accustomed to reading in apostate sites."

Hopefully, they don't. I don't. (Having said that, the best way to get someone to do something is to tell them they shouldn't) The one time I deliberately did as an experiment, I was met with such nastiness that I backed out after a few days. They weren't nasty at first. They were effusive in their greetings until they perceived that I was not about to jump ship.

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I believe I do have an open mind and I am open to new ways of looking at things but when one argues about history and dates one really has to have the expertise in the field to distinguish fact from fiction...  And unfortunately most experts will accept dodgy historians of ancient days while overriding what the bible has to say.   This is when I evaluate what the bible has to say first and look at what material the organization has looked at and evaluated before me.  In the past I used to get the books ( quoted in the Insight book) from the library  (when possible)  and look at it for myself.    

I think one should really evaluate the information which the governing body has put together as part of your decision making process and not be an expert on your own.  In collaboration with others one will reach a better conclusion.  I do not reject new thinking but I think that when someone has done the trouble to go through all the available information on the subject to assist us one should NOT be suspicious that they are pushing an agenda as though they are our enemy and wish to harm us. They truly believe they have a mission to uphold Jehovah's word - despite the fact that they are fallible and sometimes grumpy old men. 

This is why I like the idea of writing committees because this ensures that most agree with what must be written before it is published.  Yes there are always domineering individuals but I do think that this is eventually sorted out - and when it comes to history or evaluating ideas - one has to evaluate everything that is available.

One of my first test of any new information is : how does it fit in with what the rest of the Bible says about this subject.... if there are several other places which confirms a particular viewpoint - this is what I will go with.  

I believe that there will in future be wicked individual slaves - like in the past - who will sow seeds of apostasy and as part of Satans final onslaught to attack the slave --- by slanderous material (already happening) and spreading false information (already here) and sowing doubt about basic teachings.  I am vigilant to this - not to be infected by persons who are not really convinced in their heart of the time-line in the purpose of Jehovah.

I have studied this time-line before but now I have renewed vigor to look at it again!   I do look at Darwinian websites so I can think like one of them when I speak to them.  I like to see issues I have not thought of before.  I also like Physics and the new developments... to see where my faith may be challenged ; and I have always love history - ancient history and modern. 

I am NOT a scholar but an autodidact..... and the more I know the more I realize how little I know.... I had a big ego when I was younger and had a great future with a great talent but I have let all that  go and work daily to be the best I can be to the glory of Jehovah.    

Now and then I get on this site and let go - to the chagrin of my fellow witnesses....  Apologies if I hurt someone's feelings because it is arrogant to think that one can be the protector of what Jehovah has said.  He has the power and insight to do it all by himself.  But I do think that I should love my fellows enough, to tell them with honesty when I see that they do not value what has already been prepared for us and value their own ideas more - to the detriment of themselves.  

 

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3 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

I'll respond to your wordplay directly. However, the sentence is "true" since as I was "censored" by the Librarian and "blocked" until I agreed to accept the warning given in private. Perhaps it wasn't made public but the sensor was made in private just like a judicial committee.

I can't believe I am putting in a good word for that ignorant and disgusting, donut-gorging, wine imbibing, pig-headed, gouty, anal-retentive, over-promiscuous, sorry excuse for a woman known as @The Librarian, but when her cohort slapped an A on me for abuse - an A that never ever ever ever ever ever goes away (oh - I just checked my profile - it did. Rats. She told me at the time it would not),  I had to admit that I had it coming. It also helped me to improve my writing. I learned to make my points as forceful without triggering any alarms for abuse. In fact, they are more forceful, for when someone detects you have stepped over the line and 'lost it,' they will discard your entire argument on that account.

"No discipline is joyous for the present, but grievous, but it makes for fine training, and besides, you wouldn't be disciplined if you weren't loved" or something like that. Now I know that The Librarian loves me, the old hen. You never had an entire thread taken down, Allen, as I have. Benefit from the old hag. You post fine content and you put much work into it. Don't allow it to be dismissed because of a too aggressive manner. If I can stand up with a appreciation for the filthy overbearing opinionated perpetually semi-drunken wench, so can you.

But now, no more on this from me, since she is getting her hackles up, discerning someone straying from theme. Even JWI is saying - 'Oh no! TTH! He always drags that JTR along with him and then it's goodbye to decorum!' The trouble is, much as I HATE to admit it and will disagree elsewhere, JTR has a point. If my off-topic remarks are going to be consigned to some tiny backwater, I won't bother making them in the first place. Everyone's time is worth something, even mine.

......"This is why I like the idea of writing committees because this ensures that most agree with what must be written before it is published.  Yes there are always domineering individuals but I do think that this is eventually sorted out - and when it comes to history or evaluating ideas - one has to evaluate everything that is available."

I like this point, too, from @Arauna. I am a lightweight here, and I like that she brings this out for balance.

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Jesus' apostles were undoubtedly perplexed that (earthly) Jerusalem was not to be the scene of an irruption (sic) of divine power for giving Jesus a throne in Jerusalem as manifestation that Messianic kingdom rule had begun once again in Jerusalem with Heaven's backing. And if such were not in store for Jesus in connection with Jerusalem, then exactly what should they expect--where should they look--for any visible manifestation that finally the time had come that God had given Jesus a Messianic (Davidic) throne? No, Jesus would not be holed up in some desert redoubt with an army of sword-bearing warriors, nor would he be secretly conspiring with any Jewish nationalists for subverting Roman rule by whipping up the masses for frenzied attacks against Roman soldiers in Judea. 

Now, the book of Revelation is meant to refine the thinking of Christians as to the nature of the Parousia (see Rev. 1:10, 19; 6:2). Would the Parousia involve miraculous manifestation of divine power for securement of Jesus' throne? Yes, but it should require eyes of faith to see it (compare Revelation 12:1), just as it did for anyone seeing (appreciating) "the sign of Jonah" (Jesus' resurrection), because even though one may not be able to bear eyewitness testimony that he had ever seen the resurrected Jesus, yet still by his eyes of faith he knows Jesus lives even as one made alive in a glorified, spiritual organism (see 2 Corinthians 5:16). And though the book of Revelation helps us to see that even though the Parousia involves a miraculous irruption of divine power for the enthronement of the heavenly Son of God, and that it requires eyes of faith to see it, yet should we not also see that the Parousia is not brought to an end just as soon as Jesus' heavenly throne has been secured against any further attempts by Satan and his angels to ruin the enthronement event (see Rev. 12:3-10)? Yes, we should see as much. Jesus has much to accomplish during all the time of his royal visitation (+1000 years)--much more to accomplish during all the time he has his heavenly throne for his giving special attention to what all goes on here on earth before the last enemy is brought to nothing (see Rev. 6:1, 2, 9-11; 7:9-17; 11:15; 12:10-12; 17:9-11 for some of the things that take place over an extended period of time during -- after commencement of -- the Lord's day/Parousia). 

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On 8/5/2017 at 9:27 AM, AllenSmith said:

I'll bite. I'll respond to your wordplay directly. However, the sentence is "true" since as I was "censored" by the Librarian and "blocked" until I agreed to accept the warning given in private. Perhaps it wasn't made public but the sensor was made in private just like a judicial committee. A stipulation you found humorous given your comments in other threads with ANNA.

You are also aware of the many "deletions" by the librarian to protect his pet commentators, even though one is down right insulting, and is allowed to be degrading, malicious, and defamatory. While others shrug it off as humor. So, when you say "as far as I know, the first sentence is not true" we know you are being deceptive. 

I appreciate the opportunity to dialogue with you without all the unnecessary rhetoric. I understand your situation somewhat, if you actually believe I am espousing the equivalent of apostate ideas, and you wish to counter them, but also wish to keep reminding an "audience" somewhere that you know "from whence such ideas come from," and need to clarify your distance while still engaging in dialogue. 

And yes, I could tell that there is a bit of censorship going on here, (e.g. the "POSTER") although I figured it was self-censorship due to previous warnings about not directly calling a specific poster an "apostate" or reminding them of their "Satanic" roots, or effectively threatening people who merely "upvote" the posts of people you strongly disagree with. (I copied a few of those long topics to my hard drive, and several of them have your original posts in them, that have since been deleted from the current site. Those deletions all reflected problems like the ones I just mentioned.) Personally, I really don't care about being mislabeled as much as the site owners apparently do. I think that as long as we can share information, it's the Internet after all, and we can expect whatever gets thrown at us.  But it does get to be a time waster for anyone who wants to wade through the debris. And I always assumed that's part of the reason why you and others have done this: it puts a protective wall of debris (anti-posts), so that people don't really get into the real [perceived] pile of garbage, the topic itself. That's actually the reason I've so often just ignored what you've said in the past.

I think a lot of people confuse the meaning of ad hominem a little bit, too. If you think someone is terrible and you say why you think that they are terrible based on why their argument is bad that is NOT ad hominem. It's when you say why you think they are terrible INSTEAD of saying why their argument is bad; that is an ad hominem. It's only when calling names is merely a diversion so that you don't have to defend against the argument itself. That's why Jesus was not using ad hominem when he spoke against the Pharisees, scribes, etc. He said they are 'wicked' BECAUSE of specific things they did or practiced.

I also agree that you (in all guises and names) have been generally peaceful, reasonable, and helpful in the majority of your posts, even where I disagree with the point. I also agree that when it comes to being purposely "obnoxious" (if that's the word) there have been others here who have taken the prize in that area. Of course, the lesson appears to be that if someone is trying to be both provocative and funny at the same time, then almost anything goes. But I can see why that looks hypocritical.

On 8/5/2017 at 0:47 PM, AllenSmith said:

Even though his approach seems to have changed now to be inconsistent with previous arguments, most likely to entice a new audience, his hundreds of the previous post challenge the validity of the Watchtowers claims, about 607BC, 537BC, 1914AD, the invisible presence of Christ, Gentile Times, etc.

Sometimes, the danger of not responding to you allows ideas like this to fester, and then be used again as if they were true all along. My approach might appear more reasonable to you because I am beginning to understand your argument a bit better, but there is nothing inconsistent with previous arguments, which is why you cannot find any arguments that are inconsistent. I think you might be referring to the fact that I am not quibbling over a year or two difference, but if you go back to any of the old discussions you will find that this has always been the case. (I was the one, who agreed that the 3 weeks for Neb to get back from Hatti-land to Babylon always seemed just a bit too fast, even if Josephus is right about the short-cut.) Although I prefer 587, I can see a good reason for 586. Although the 70 years should end in 539, I can see a reason to go for 538. (The Jews could have come back in 537, but that wouldn't change when the 70 years ended a year or two prior to that.) You should be able to find all of these arguments in past discussions because they are all still around. These are not new arguments for a new audience. You might have conflated what I said with others like Ann, or ScholarJW, or others. You have done that before.

On 8/5/2017 at 0:47 PM, AllenSmith said:

He has gone far enough to support many of the arguments written by “Carl Olof Jonnson” the author of the book “Gentile Times Reconsidered”. His belief as stated in past post is, this “apostate” has more credibility than the Watchtower.

I have said that I could care less what Carl Olof Jonnson wrote. All he did is repeat the evidence that is agreed upon by nearly 100% of the experts and scholars on the subject. It has nothing to do with him. My own independent study, which I did because of a dialogue I was having with Rolf Furuli, convinced me that HUNDREDS of scholars were right and Rolf Furuli had used a lot of logical fallacies and outright intellectual and scholastic dishonesty in a book that he sent me personally (for free, at that!). So far, neither you nor ScholarJW or anyone else have been able to show otherwise. It matters not that COJ might have come to the same conclusion. I have never spoken with COJ, I have spoken with Rolf Furuli. I have never read all of COJ's book. I have read every word of the last two books by Furuli. I have not "stated" that COJ has more credibility than the Watchtower, which is why you will not find such a statement.

Your claim that I stated that "COJ has more credibility than the Watchtower" reminds me of J.F.Rutherford. Rutherford was not impugning the credibility of the Watchtower itself just because he found more evidence for a new teaching. Was Rutherford saying that his doctrine of 1925 has more credibility than Watch Tower's doctrine of 1914 just because he said: [2nd quotation corrected in late edit. Thanks Allen Smith.]

 "The year 1925 is a date definitely and clearly marked in the Scriptures, even more clearly than that of 1914; . . ."  — The Watchtower, July 15, 1924, p. 211.

"The physical facts show beyond question of a doubt that 1914 ended the Gentile Times. . . . The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures [than 1914] because it is fixed by the Law God gave to Israel." — The Watchtower, September 1, 1922, p. 262.

". . . the dates impart a much greater strength than can be found in other chronologies. Some of them are of so remarkable a character as clearly to indicate that this chronology is not of man, but of God. Being of divine origin and divinely corroborated, present-truth chronology stands in a class by itself, absolutely and unqualifiedly correct. INCONTESTABLY ESTABLISHED. When a  date is indicated by several lines of evidence it is strongly established. . . . when a thing is indicated in only one way it may be by chance . . . and the addition of more proofs removes it entirely from the world of chance into that of proven certainty. PROOF OF DIVINE ORIGIN. . . . this is proof of divine origin and that the system is not a human invention . . . — "The Strong Cable of Chronology" The Watchtower, July 15, 1922, p.217, 218.

QUESTION AND ANSWER: Have we more reason, or as much, to believe the Kingdom will be established in 1925 than Noah had  to believe that there would be a flood? [Answer] Our thought is, that 1925 is definitely settled by the Scriptures. . . we expect such a climax in the affairs of the world . . . He is already present. . . . He is dashing to pieces the nations. . . .As to Noah, the Christian now has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had . . . upon which to base his faith in a coming deluge." — The Watchtower,  April 1, 1923, p.106

"When you take up a more advanced study of the Bible, you will find that the year 1925 A. D. is particularly marked in prophecy." The Way to Paradise, p.220

No, he was not disparaging the Watchtower for having taught 1914. He was not putting one person as more credible than the Watchtower, because he obviously still accepted the Watchtower, and even though all the expectations for 1914 had failed, he still thought that there was evidence that something about 1914 was still true. Was Rutherford really saying that 1925 was more credible than 1914, or just saying that there was more evidence for 1925 than for 1914?

Similarly, I'm saying that there is more evidence against the 1914 doctrine than there is for it. Just like Rutherford, I think that multiple lines of evidence begin to make a proposition less an indication of chance, and more an indication of certainty. I am not using this to disparage the Watchtower in general which is right on many more things than it has been wrong about. Also, note that I am not even saying that the nearly 100% of experts (perhaps there are thousands) in the field of chronology need to be right. After all, Rutherford was not right about 1925 nor even about most of the other dates he referred to as "unqualifiedly correct." Nothing about my faith changes if secular experts show how  the chronology corroborates the Bible (which it does) or if it supposedly "proved" the Bible incorrect (which it doesn't). Even if all the potential thousands of experts could prove it was 607 when Jerusalem was destroyed, it still would have no effect on my faith, for Biblical reasons. I have faith that Jesus was correct when he said that no one would be able to put a date on the parousia.

On 8/5/2017 at 0:47 PM, AllenSmith said:

as someone mentioned has become a “PET” project for him. Once again, I hope is it crystal clear, I’m in FULL accord with the Watchtower for over 50 years, and as a theologian, I refute, past claims by others and Poster, as I did with “Raymond Franz” back in the day to his face. Perhaps a research on this forum from other threads will aid your candor.

I have never said it was a "PET" project. If I have a "PET" project, it has been to show that the Kingdom is one of the primary themes of the Bible, and that even the Hebrew Scriptures pointed to a Messiah who turned out to be identifiable in his day as Jesus Christ, and how this truth was revealed in such a way, even if it was a "sacred secret" that it was unavoidable and undeniable for the persons of his generation. But that is not a project that I have discussed much about yet on this forum. What I am doing here is sharing things I learned from other Witnesses years ago, didn't particularly want to believe, but which became undeniable to me after thorough study and prayerful consideration. It's not necessary that anyone follow it or believe it, but my conscience tells me that I should at least share in the things learned. New information is being found on this subject all the time, and I think some have had difficulty fitting this new cloth or new wine onto the old framework of the 1914 doctrine. I think the information shared might help these brothers and sisters. Others will have no use for it, which is OK, too:

(Matthew 9:16, 17) . . .Nobody sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old outer garment, for the new piece pulls away from the garment and the tear becomes worse. 17 Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins. If they do, then the wineskins burst and the wine spills out and the wineskins are ruined. But people put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

(Matthew 13:52) . . .every public instructor who is taught about the Kingdom of the heavens is like a man, the master of the house, who brings out of his treasure store things both new and old.”

A research on this forum from other threads will definitely and consistently show this to be the case.

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53 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

who merely "upvote" the posts

I am reluctant to upvote or downvote anything. If I upvote, it implies I agree with everything. If I downvote, it implies I agree with nothing. That is seldom the case either way.

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Went to a historical Museum about the 2 world wars in Norway last week and saw the same phrase I have seen so many times -  1914 was the" year the world changed never to be the same again...."   It identified all the new kinds of weapons that had never been used in previous wars before..... so many....The battle of the Somme is still listed as one of the worst battles ever....

What we see on the ground in real life  must also reflect what is in the scriptures.... so 1925  or any other date in my book would not even get a chance to be a possibility......     I did not mean to sound rude when I said that one can get sooo scholarly and focussed on only one item that one develops a myopia .... and by the way .....  I was browsing the internet when I saw an Interlinear I had not seen before- and there it was - the word " Parousia" in chapter Matt 24.

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3 minutes ago, Arauna said:

Went to a historical Museum about the 2 world wars in Norway last week and saw the same phrase I have seen so many times -  1914 was the" year the world changed never to be the same again...."   It identified all the new kinds of weapons that had never been used in previous wars before..... so many....The battle of the Somme is still listed as one of the worst battles ever....

    Hello guest!

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Thanks!  Yes, the breaking up of the Ottoman empire WW1 has also set the stage for the problems now being experienced in the Middle east.  The second world war was also as a result of the Germans being aggrieved about the conditions of the  Armistice ending WW1.

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7 hours ago, Arauna said:

I do not have time to respond to all comments but it is absolutely clear to me that NONE of you have taken the time to really study the entire sections on Chronology as set out in the Insight book.   And -"NO"- the Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronologies are NOT firmly established! ... There is too little reliable evidence for that.  I read some of the (translated) lists and I was not impressed when I investigated these things......... .. .  The Insight book also gives good reasons WHY they are not trustworthy..... while the Bible chronology is very well set out. 

One does not need secular dates to establish bible chronology - but some people are not happy if they do not receive this. One can count the years from the date of creation of Adam until today......(go and look in the Insight book!  it is all there! ) As I said before - we do not need any secular dates to corroborate the Bible because one can pinpoint the date of the start of Jesus' baptism in the year 29 CE (because there was no year 0) and work BACK! as well -  and it still gets one to the same numbers and dates!

I think you are enamored of you own scholarly endeavors and pushing your own ideas above those of a groups of researchers from our organization who have all contributed to these articles and who have been looking at all possible evidences.  Yes they are fallible but their arguments are more acceptable to me than the ones I have seen here on these pages.

And I said before the bible chronology is part of Jehovah's PURPOSE.... see how the chronology fits in with his purpose....

OK.. done. I have read it again. As always, I deeply appreciate the good research that has gone into the Insight book. When this book first came out under the name "Aid to Bible Understanding" I was just as amazed, especially at the "Chronology" section. It took me nearly four years of scratching out an hour or so each day to completely read the Aid book while still at Bethel. I have never completed the Insight book yet, although I recognize that most of the old entries have remained intact, verbatim, from the older Aid book.

That said, I would love to comment on many items of interest that I found in the "Chronology" article in Insight including everything I agree with and appreciated. First, I will try to limit my comments to those that are relevant to this discussion and the statements you have made above.

So here goes . . .

First, you said: "And -"NO"- the Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronologies are NOT firmly established! ... There is too little reliable evidence for that."

I can say that you have understood very well the basic premise of the the first half of the Chronology article. It is clearly intended to make us us think that the Babylonian Chronology is not firmly established, when it really is, as I said above, one of the MOST firmly established of all ancient timelines. By mixing the Neo-Babylonian in with the Sumerian and Assyrian chronologies, especially by mentioning the much earlier mythical portions of those chronologies, we can easily get confused into thinking the Neo-Babylonian is just like the others. It's always easy to think that if something is wrong with part of something then something must also be wrong with the whole. But we should keep in mind that the Watch Tower publications are so sure of the accuracy of the Neo-Babylonian chronology, hat they take ONE of the dates from it (539) and for many years called it an ABSOLUTE date, and used that date as an anchor for the 1914 doctrine that has been repeated over 6,000 times, according to the current updated WT-Library CD. In fact scholars refer to the entire Neo-Babylonian chronology as ABSOLUTE dates, therefore the Watch Tower publications now only refer to 539 as a "pivotal" or "assured" date, rather than an absolute date..

*** it-1 p. 448 Chronology ***
The histories of the ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, Persians, and others are, in the main, fragmentary; their earlier periods are either obscure or, as presented by them, obviously mythical.

A true statement "in the main" especially about their "earlier periods" but we are interested ONLY in the Neo-Babylonian period.

*** it-1 p. 448 Chronology ***
What is known from secular sources of these ancient nations has been laboriously pieced together from bits of information obtained from monuments and tablets or from the later writings of the so-called classical historiographers of the Greek and Roman period.

Notice that all these nations have still been mixed together, rather than marvel at the amazing completeness of the Neo-Babylonian period, based on literally THOUSANDS of interrelated, interlocking, dated tablets and monuments. It's true that it has been laboriously pieced together from bits of information. This is as we should expect, and it turns out that all these THOUSANDS of bits of information support the "accepted chronology." And we should note that the Watch Tower publications do refer to the entire Neo-Babylonian chronology as the "accepted chronology" -- not because one man named Carl Olof Jonsson accepts it, but because ALL the known Neo-Babylonian scholars accept the overwhelming evidence.  Obviously, these experts don't accept it just because it supports the Bible's timeline, yet it is easy to show that it really does.  And these same scholars are the ones that the Insight book relies upon for the 539 date. These THOUSANDS of pieces of evidence actually support the Bible's timeline much better than the Watch Tower's timeline.

*** kc p. 187 Appendix to Chapter 14 ***
Business tablets: Thousands of contemporary Neo-Babylonian cuneiform tablets have been found that record simple business transactions, stating the year of the Babylonian king when the transaction occurred. Tablets of this sort have been found for all the years of reign for the known Neo-Babylonian kings in the accepted chronology of the period.

This doesn't mean that the Watch Tower accepts the "accepted chronology," of course, but the reasons that the Watch Tower gives are not real reasons. It is very easy to show that they are just pretend reasons. The Insight book inadvertently admits that these are just pretend reasons, if you look at it closely enough.

*** it-1 pp. 448-449 Chronology ***
While archaeologists have recovered tens of thousands of clay tablets bearing Assyro-Babylonian cuneiform inscriptions, as well as large numbers of papyrus scrolls from Egypt, the vast majority of these are religious texts or business documents consisting of contracts, bills of sale, deeds, and similar matter. The considerably smaller number of historical writings of the pagan nations, preserved either in the form of tablets, cylinders, steles, or monumental inscriptions, consist chiefly of material glorifying their emperors and recounting their military campaigns in grandiose terms.

Notice the contradictory reasoning here. TENS OF THOUSANDS of clay tablets bearing inscriptions are supposedly minimized for being religious texts or mundane business documents. Notice what is left out, however: they are EACH ONE DATED to the year of the Babylonian king when the transaction occurred. Also, by throwing some Egyptian papyrus scrolls into the mix, it's possible to imply that many of the TENS OF THOUSANDS of business documents might be religious documents -- and this very likely makes us think they are reduced in value in determining a chronology. We are also supposed to get the idea that the historical writings are reduced in value because they glorify their emperors and military campaigns. We are supposed to think if "myth" and "exaggeration" here. These are the bad apples that are supposed to spoil the whole bushel.

*** it-1 p. 449 Chronology ***
Engraved in stone or inscribed in clay, some ancient pagan documents may seem very impressive, but this does not ensure their correctness and their freedom from falsehood. Not the material written on, but the writer, his purpose, his respect for truth, his devotion to righteous principles—these are the important factors that give sound basis for confidence, in chronological as well as other matters. The great age of the secular documents is certainly outweighed by the vastly inferior quality of their contents . . .

Yes, these contemporary documents will never be the Bible. But let's at least admit to what they are. In fact, these TENS OF THOUSANDS of business documents about mundane matters do not contain any of "myth" or "religion" or "exaggeration" and they are all dated. Not only that, but these dates are interconnected not just through the year of each king, but they include a second name, the name of the current "company president" always including who his father was, and sometimes even who his son was who would become the next president when his father died or retired. In addition to a complete timeline of the kings, you can also double-check it with a complete timeline of the firm's presidents and their sons, grandsons, great grandsons, etc. Thousands of the tablets come from the largest "financial firm" of that time, which handled real estate, banking, loans, and commerce contracts.

It's as if you had a great-grandmother you never met who claimed to live to be 120 years old, and then you went into an attic and found that she had left 10,000 checkbook receipts, loan receipts, deeds, etc., which are not only dated with the day and month, but she also added the year of each U.S. President to each check, so that they would say for example: Lincoln's 3rd year, Johnson's 1st year, Grant's 2nd year. But they also had the name of the bank president, and the bank president's son. So now you could see how long each U.S president served and even synchronize it with how long each bank president served. But the main thing is that she had several checks for each and every year of each president. And you would have no trouble putting them in order because she also had a memo on each check where you could double-check the father and son currently running the bank in every year, too. This way if there were two presidents named Johnson (Andrew and Lyndon) in her check receipts, you could know which was which.

But there is one more thing about the TENS OF THOUSANDS of business documents -- not mentioned. There are enough of them to show exactly what month of the year a given king died, because whenever a king was living the month and day and year of that king's reign was inscribed, but when he died the new king was shown sometimes in tablets of the same month just days after the new king was inaugurated, and the new king would be inscribed as being in his "0" year, or "accession" year.

There is one more point that is just as important. Some of these tablets match up with customer's names on preceding tablets, or some tablets refer to transactions that cut across the time period of two kings. This could be a loan made in the time of one king, but paid off three years later in the time of another king. Or it could be a payment for an item during the last months of one king, and another for the delivery of those items in the early months of another king.

In every case, we not only have tablets for every year of the timeline, but there is no way to claim the kings are in the wrong order, or that one might refer ambiguously to a different king of the same name. (This actually comes close to happening when some usurpers named Nebuchadnezzar show up, but their attempts lasted only a few months at a time, and happened long after the dates we are concerned about between Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus.)

Without mentioning any of these facts, the Insight book goes on with a quote from Ceran "The Secret of the Hittites." If you have the book you will know the true context of the quote.

*** it-1 pp. 449-450 Chronology ***
Well illustrating why secular histories do not qualify as the standard of accuracy by which to judge Bible chronology is this statement by archaeological writer C. W. Ceram, commenting on the modern science of historical dating:  ". . .For as we examine the sources of ancient history we see how scanty, inaccurate, or downright false, the records were even at the time they were first written. And poor as they originally were, they are poorer still as they have come down to us: half destroyed by the tooth of time or by the carelessness and rough usage of men.” —The Secret of the Hittites, 1956, pp. 133, 134.

There are so many things wrong with this type of quotation when you realize that it is almost all geared toward accepting 539 (capture of Babylon) and not accepting 587 (destruction of Jerusalem). Yet both dates are from the same experts. Also there is no conflict between the Neo-Babylonian dating and the Bible, the only conflict is the Watchtower's interpretation -- which was only found necessary as a way to reach the 1914 date. But this book is talking about the Hittites. In fact, in just the next couple of paragraphs he uses an example of King Menes in Egypt from 2900 BCE! The purpose appears to be in order to mix up the problems of the early Egyptian timeline with the Neo-Babylonian. But it also leaves out the very next paragraph after King Menes. In fact, back in a Watchtower article that tried to bolster more faith in the predictions made about the 1975 time period, it actually used this same book to say that 539 was "assured."

*** w68 5/1 pp. 270-271 pars. 2-3 Making Wise Use of the Remaining Time ***
" . . . the book The Secret of the Hittites, by C. W. Ceram, in the chapter entitled “The Science of Historical Dating,” states:  . . . “But as we go even deeper into the subject, our respect for the achievements of historical detective work returns. We learn that the scholars have been careful to distinguish between ‘assured’ and ‘assumed’ dates. And we discover that the chronological framework of ancient history rests upon at least a few firm points. Certain key dates, around which other dates are mustered, can be determined almost without error. They are ‘assured.’”
3 Hence, outside the Bible’s timetable, most dates set by historians are unreliable. Only a few “assured,” or absolute, dates, such as 539 B.C.E., . . .

Ceram didn't mention 539 here, the Watchtower added that. As far as the Egyptian chronology goes, note that the Watch Tower is only pushing for about a 100 year difference through much of it, and only a 20 year difference by the time of Josiah.

*** it-1 p. 450 Chronology ***
The difference between the above dates and those generally assigned by modern historians amounts to as much as a century or more for the Exodus and then narrows down to about 20 years by Pharaoh Necho’s time. The following information shows why we prefer to hold to the chronology based on the Biblical reckoning.

That 20-year difference was necessary in order to make Jerusalem's fall change from 587 (accepted date) to 607 (the date required for 1914 to work). It's not that there is any evidence for it. There is none. But what is extremely ironic is that the entire discussion of why the Egyptian dates are not accepted is almost a precise description of the same exact reasoning about why 587 is not accepted. But here's the real irony: every one of these factors that supposedly weakens the unaccepted dates are exactly the factors that were used in order to get the 539 date. In other words the Watch Tower Society doesn't really think these are weakening factors at all; we accept them all perfectly for 539, and even call 539 an ASSURED date because of the same factors. This is how we know that the reasons given are only "pretend" reasons.

Under Assyrian Chronology no attempt is made to synchronize:

*** it-1 p. 452 Chronology ***
The information above points to the conclusion that Assyrian historiography either is not correctly understood by modern historians or is of very low caliber. In either case, we do not feel compelled to attempt to coordinate the Biblical chronology with history as presented in the Assyrian records.

For now, we can leave it at that because nothing there is critical to the points of discussion under Babylonian chronology. Twice as much space is devoted to the Neo-Babylonian and Persian chronologies and the issues surrounding their accuracy. This is the most interesting to this discussion, so I will continue some comments for discussion in the next post.

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I think you keep on trying to prove you are right because you are not happy with what you have in the truth.  Why spend hours trying to get someone to agree with you.  What is the purpose of it?   If hypothetically I agree with you - then what will the next step be for us?  We go and make our own happy little group separate from other Witnesses - and pat ourselves on the back that we are smarter than the slave? or what?

It has nothing to do with being smart or scholarly or even being RIGHT - it has to do with recognizing Jehovah and the channel he is using to preach the Kingdom as the only hope for mankind.  I honestly believe that we must have Jehovah's spirit to stay connected with Him and stay in the truth.  I have enough knowledge of other history to firmly believe that WW1 was a major change in world affairs and that the year 537BCE is a reasonably good year (take a year of two) for the building work to restart in Jerusalem......and this will easily bring the date of Jerusalem's fall to 607 (70 years in Babylon ) - which makes 1914 not a mirage at all! 

And the other arguments that Jehovah will not use a wicked king and his 7 periods of madness as a symbol of the inhumane nations ruling the earth until Jesus kingdom starts to rule does not tread water at all.  Jehovah used prophets whose wives were unfaithful to illustrate the situation that his people were in..... Yes I have seen the things you took a lot of time to write and I honestly do not think it is worth my time to reply because  think that you are determined to promote your own way of thinking......  

It so happens that I do not agree with you.  In your mind you are the expert on this.   So be the expert and where will it get you? You need to serve Jehovah together with his servants or stay behind.  You need to be actively helping others to come closer to Jehovah - but with this expert fault finding scholarship you will not have enough time or enough of Jehovah's spirit to do this.

I learnt Jehovah's name, the fact that the immortality of the soul is a lie from satan, that Jesus really died for me (soul died) and that Jesus is not God - I learnt all from the Witnesses.  There is no other religion which stands up for the vindication of Jehovah's name like the slave does.  In fact our persecution will start because we proclaim this name and took it for ourselves to be identified by...

Most churches accept the name Jesus but not Jehovah's name.  Even Muslims accept a form of Jesus.... so this should tell you to appreciate the fact that Jehovah in his graciousness allowed both of us to be part of this group of people. ..... While it is good to investigate what you believe so you can stay strong - one should not go beyond/ or brazenly go ahead - where is the unity in that?  I have on occasion not agreed with small things and later came to this conclusion:-  it sorts itself out......  The really important stuff is all there and is understood....

I started writing a book about the intrinsic  LOGIC of the Bible and how everything fits in perfectly - a few years back and decided to stop..... because I decided that I do not want to be competition for the slave..... Jehovah gave them the job to advertise the kingdom.... and I will not use what I learnt from the organization (even if I have a lot of my own ideas - to make money for myself.   I may later finish it and ask them if I can publish..... and if they do not like  ..... it is OK with me.  I am participating in the greatest work on earth - to teach others about Jehovah. 

There is a thin line which one can overstep.  Think of Adam and Eve - it was a very simple test...... and such a small thing.... which actually shows the level of obedience and cooperation which Jehovah really expects from us.  This is why the bible shows we must be in unity and in cooperation when he finds us.....  We can use our powers to sow discord and doubt..... which is not the way Jehovah wants us to be.  We must be slaves...... of others ....not scholars.  Jesus knew all the knowledge there is all to know in heaven and on earth but not once did he show that he knows more than other people.  He stayed lowly until his death. We all - me included - can learn from this! for sure!

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I agree with you brother -  Europe is a boiling cauldron and the longer it boils the bigger the explosion.   They are in denial about the financial and other problems related to immigration but when it sinks in they will act in a crazy way.... the lady is heavy pregnant - all the signs are there - the birth is eminent - the day an hour is unknown.  However, we should all be found working hard for a warning and a witness to the nations... in unity, cooperation and in peace - who of us will stand?

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21 minutes ago, Arauna said:

I think you keep on trying to prove you are right because you are not happy with what you have in the truth.  Why spend hours trying to get someone to agree with you.  What is the purpose of it?   If hypothetically I agree with you - then what will the next step be for us?  We go and make our own happy little group separate from other Witnesses - and pat ourselves on the back that we are smarter than the slave? or what?

When evidence piles up against something very overwhelmingly, we really have no choice but to either accept the evidence or dismiss it. The easiest thing to do is to dismiss new evidence and go along as we always have. If we can dismiss evidence then we don't have to think about it. In this world, of course, especially modern news media and in social media, the most common method of dismissing evidence is to go after the person instead of the evidence. This is why you often see people making assumptions about motives.

If you think I'm saying this is what you are doing, I'm not. You have gone beyond the idea of merely dismissing evidence. You are rightly concerned about the motive behind it, and you are rightly concerned about what it would really mean to us if the evidence were accepted. This is not a simple dismissal of evidence in your case. I can see that you are not simply bringing this up  for a diversion to avoid thinking about it. 

So I'm glad you asked the questions:

"Why spend hours trying to get someone to agree with you? What is the purpose of it?"

Getting someone to agree is not the point. Many people already agree. But we learn not to worry when people don't agree with us in the field ministry. Yet our responsibility to present truth to the best of our ability does not change.

(John 4:23) 23 Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshippers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for indeed, the Father is looking for ones like these to worship him.

Spending hours on a subject is not the preference for everyone, but there are persons for whom the opportunity for this kind of research is a joy and a privilege. For one thing, it helps me see first-hand the accuracy of the Bible, and how even secular sources of archaeology and history support the Bible account. Questions that produced contradictions in the past, now show the Bible to be harmonious, even on this very topic of chronology during the Neo-Babylonian period. And you get a better sense of the historical Babylonian world in which the Jews were exiled. There are about 4 of these questions that produced contradictions in the past. I've brought up 2 of them on the forum before, such as:

(Haggai 2:3) 3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? . . .

(Ezra 3:12, 13) 12 Many of the priests, the Levites, and the heads of the paternal houses—the old men who had seen the former house—wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, while many others shouted joyfully at the top of their voice. 13 So the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shouts from the sound of the weeping, for the people were shouting so loudly that the sound was heard from a great distance.

The question on these scriptures was about how many of these 95 to 105 year old people could have outcried the sounds of joy according to the Watchtower chronology? But the "accepted chronology" that fits both the Bible and secular evidence shows that this was the 75 to 105 year olds, not just those over 95 years old.

Another question was the meaning of the phrase "these 70 years" at a time that was 90 years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and 92 years, at least, after the deadly siege against it:

(Zechariah 1:12) 12 So the angel of Jehovah said: “O Jehovah of armies, how long will you withhold your mercy from Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with whom you have been indignant these 70 years?”

(Zechariah 7:4, 5) 4 The word of Jehovah of armies again came to me, saying: 5 “Say to all the people of the land and to the priests, ‘When you fasted and wailed in the fifth month and in the seventh month for 70 years, did you really fast for me?

Why does the scripture say they were fasting for 70 years if the Watchtower says that this was 90 years later? The "accepted chronology" answers that exact question.  There are two more similar questions that I will get to later.

Of course, some will probably end up believing in the evidence and in the Bible's support for that evidence based on what I have presented. But it won't be just because I said it. On the Internet people say whatever they want and pretend to be whoever they want, so no one is going to accept it because I presented it. They will only do so after evaluating the evidence for themselves, and I'm guessing that 99% won't look at the evidence anyway. Still, we don't impugn each other for spending hours trying to get someone to agree with us, if we are convincing them to believe in 1914. If we are doing this because we are passionate for truth, then we have an obligation to support what we know to be true, if asked.

(Philippians 4:8) . . .Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well-spoken-of, whatever things are virtuous, and whatever things are praiseworthy, continue considering these things.

If hypothetically I agree with you - then what will the next step be for us?  We go and make our own happy little group separate from other Witnesses - and pat ourselves on the back that we are smarter than the slave? or what?

The next step is to continue to focus on all the things that Philippians 4:8 just mentioned. Nothing significant should change. One of the points of this is that we don't have to make our happy little group separate from other Witnesses. But, in time, as more persons are aware of the evidence, we won't have to be ashamed and cower at the idea of speaking out boldly and fearlessly about the things we have learned. Currently, most Witnesses, including myself, have to hold back from certain conversations even when they come up with other Witnesses we trust, for fear we will say something that will be interpreted as presumptuous, haughty, or stumbling. So in the meantime, there are 1,000 other true things we can focus on. 1,000 other serious concerns, righteous, chaste, lovable, virtuous, praiseworthy things that we can focus on. Against such things, there is no restriction. Also, this doesn't make us "smarter" than the slave. This is merely evidence, which is merely "knowledge." Knowledge pales into non-importance when compared, with love, justice, mercy, kindness, faith, hope, etc. In my own case, I learned about these things from members of the slave and members of the anointed who were just as concerned about truth, but had no way of presenting this information without getting into trouble from those who believed that nothing should be said that did not fully support the doctrines that Frederick Franz believed. (But it's also easy to understand why Brother Franz believed in the importance of this doctrine.) Several of these other brothers that I knew were concerned about losing their positions in Writing, and other positions of responsibility. Some have since died and some have evidently still not said much about it except to close friends. I don't think there is anything new here that the "slave" is not aware of. I don't know for sure, but I honestly guess that to many people in positions of responsibility in the organization, there just isn't a good way or opportunity to make adjustments yet. There is probably a fear that this will be very disruptive and may result in a great loss of publishers. I think the evidence shows that most of us would welcome the evidence if it were shown how it coincides with the message of Matthew 24, the stated meaning of Daniel 4, etc. And I would also guess that there are a few questions that remain that would be too difficult to answer immediately. This doesn't mean they can't be truthfully answered with "we don't know yet." The main thing is that I'm sure all of us would be more comfortable with humility and discretion in these matters as opposed to signs of presumptuousness and a tendency to claim full knowledge.

1 hour ago, Arauna said:

t has nothing to do with being smart or scholarly or even being RIGHT - it has to do with recognizing Jehovah and the channel he is using to preach the Kingdom as the only hope for mankind.  I honestly believe that we must have Jehovah's spirit to stay connected with Him and stay in the truth.

That is absolutely correct. I hope no one misunderstands.

1 hour ago, Arauna said:

I have enough knowledge of other history to firmly believe that WW1 was a major change in world affairs and that the year 537BCE is a reasonably good year (take a year of two) for the building work to restart in Jerusalem......and this will easily bring the date of Babylon's fall to 607 (70 years in Babylon ) - which makes 1914 not a mirage at all! 

WWI was definitely a major change in world affairs. And 537 is a reasonably good year for the building work to restart in Jerusalem. And 607 as the date of Jerusalem's fall (not Babylon's, of course) is not so far off either in the overall scheme of things, either (+- 20 years). Of course, there is no need to review why these ideas are never connected in the Bible. Even if Jerusalem fell in 607, the Bible does not connect a period to 607 as the start of the Gentile Times. Also, the Bible does not connect any period of 2,520 years to be counted from Jerusalem's fall.

Then we still have to discuss the meaning of the sign. The Jews were looking for the Parousia to be a time when war, earthquake, fire and famine would bring destruction. You can see this in the books that the Jews were using at the time to prepare for the end of the age. But Jesus appears to tell his disciples that even though they have heard that it was said that these signs would help them recognize the end-time, Jesus said to them not to be misled by wars, earthquakes, and famine. So the one thing we would NOT want to look for as a sign of the end would be a major war of any kind, or major earthquakes, or food shortages. I won't go too far into that subject here, but we should at least be able to see that this is a possible way to read Jesus' words in Matthew 24.

2 hours ago, Arauna said:

And the other arguments that Jehovah will not use a wicked king and his 7 periods of madness as a symbol of the inhumane nations ruling the earth until Jesus kingdom starts to rule does not tread water at all.  Jehovah used prophets whose wives were unfaithful to illustrate the situation that his people were in.....

No argument was made that Jehovah will not use a wicked king and his 7 periods of madness as a symbol of the inhumane nations ruling the earth until Jesus kingdom starts to rule. In fact, I believe the dream can help to give us faith in exactly that prospect. After all, even though it was fulfilled in Nebuchadnezzar the point was that Jehovah is the universal sovereign and can repeat this any time, or as many times as he wants. No empire can overpower Jehovah's will. And we pray for that Kingdom to come and for God's will to be done as in heaven also upon the earth. I agree that it teaches exactly the lesson Daniel 4 says it teaches. But we do know that it creates a lot of contradictions to try to make a type/antitype illustration out of Nebuchadnezzar's experience.  And the biggest contradiction is the one we rarely even think of, that if interpreted the way we do, that it provides a framework for the time-table of the parousia, something that only the presumptuous would try to figure out after Jesus said that the times and seasons were in the Father's jurisdiction, and after Paul said that about the Parousia and about the times and seasons we need nothing to be written to us, BECAUSE it is coming as a thief.

1 hour ago, Arauna said:

Yes I have seen the things you took a lot of time to write and I honestly do not think it is worth my time to reply because  think that you are determined to promote your own way of thinking......  

Understood. I wasn't necessarily expecting a reply unless someone could think of a Biblical reason to dismiss any of the evidence anyway. If anyone thinks the subject is of serious concern and knows of a Biblical reason to dismiss any of the evidence, then I'll probably hear about it sooner or later. And besides, you did respond with some Biblical ideas about Daniel 4 that I am not dismissing at all.

2 hours ago, Arauna said:

so this should tell you to appreciate the fact that Jehovah in his graciousness allowed both of us to be part of this group of people. ..... While it is good to investigate what you believe so you can stay strong - one should not go beyond/ or brazenly go ahead - where is the unity in that?  I have on occasion not agreed with small things and later came to this conclusion:-  it sorts itself out......  The really important stuff is all there and is understood....

I appreciate this and all of the obvious truths that I didn't requote from you because I believe them just as you do. Naturally I disagree somewhat on our responsibility to present truth when we are asked. I don't think it gets us in trouble if we handle our responsibilities seriously. There is no need for any of this to cause disunity. It's just not that important. As you say the important stuff is all there and is understood. I sometimes wonder though, what a Bible Student should have done starting in 1919 and all up well into 1925 when Rutherford was embarrassing himself and the organization. (His own words about embarrassing himself.) What appears to be extreme haughtiness and presumptousness was amazing if you go back and read the words written back then. If you knew that 1925 was based on flimsy evidence would you have said something? Would you have written Rutherford or kept it to yourself? If you were an elder minding the congregation's business and keeping your concerns to yourself, yet you knew there was something wrong, how would you counsel someone else who came up to you for advice? What if that person was a lowly person who also knew exactly what was wrong with the reasoning behind 1925? Would you be humble enough as an elder to learn from that person and realize that these were serious concerns? As a matter of fact there were many Bible Students who went through exactly that back in 1925. And of course, the same goes for any who happened to see the weaknesses and problems with all the other dates predicted from 1881 through 1918, including 100% of the predictions made for the year 1914. Is it our responsibility to make sure and question or is it our responsibility to follow without questioning?

I know your statement above is a way of answering that question, and up to a point I agree. I can even stay quiet in my congregation. But for me it's still a matter of understanding our true responsibility and our conscience. 

BTW, from what I know of you and your experience, (and yes I can read things about you in several places on the Internet), your book would be very interesting to many. I understand the hesitation, don't now if I would do it, even if I had your experiences. Would also be concerned about making money off the good news. But I know that you have some especially good ideas for the Muslim audience, for example, that you have some expertise at. And I do know that there are probably many ways to share good upbuilding thoughts and experiences in good conscience. Perhaps @TrueTomHarley has some ideas here.

 

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Zechariah 7:5 expressly relates that there were lamentations and fasts that the Jews had practiced in the 5th and 7th months as commemorations of events that had occurred in those calendar months, events that began an absence from Jerusalem of sacrifices being made to Jehovah. During just those 70 years, sixty-eight (68) 7th-month memorial fasts might have seemed appropriate, because the land had remained desolated without sacrifices offered to Jehovah in Jerusalem. But even when conditions were as they had been for the 70 years, were the fasts and wailings, which occurred ritually in the 5th and 7th months within the 70 years that the Jews were absent from the land, really observed  by most Jews out of repentant hearts? No, and now that the 70-years desolation had ended, it should be apparent to all right-hearted inhabitants in Judea that continuation of the annual, commemorative rituals now for a grand total of “O how many years” (Zechariah 7:3; thus a total of even more than whatever was the total number of times they were observed during the 70 years of exile, for those fasts were observed during an additional period of 19 years ending in 518 B.C.E., Darius Hystaspis' 4th year) had become entirely perfunctory with no basis for even a hypocritical pretext of fasting and lamentation out of sadness, this since restoration had already occurred after the 70 years exile. After all, even during the 70 years of real loss to the Jews (the loss of the temple, and loss of Jerusalem as habitation for anyone who might want to use the site for sacrifices (compare Jeremiah 41:5)), the displays of ritual sadness were, for the most part, not done out of godly sadness/repentance—not so for most Jews, anyhow, but had become rituals done perfunctorily. The 5th month’s ritual of hypocrisy was commemoration of Nebuchadnezzar’s razing of the temple (see Jeremiah 52:12, 13) and the emptying of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 40:1-13); and the ritual of hypocrisy in the 7th month was commemoration of the last time for 70 years to come that any Jews might have gone back into Jerusalem for sacrifices. The site would not become available for sacrifices until the end of 70 years of the Jews being off the land, for nobody was in the environs of Judah for 70 years following the destruction of the city (see events recorded in Jeremiah 41:1ff). It is therefore significant that the fast of every 4th month and the fast of every 10th month were not fasts in commemoration of events that meant a period of 70 years defined as the period of time during which Jerusalem was without inhabitants and was no longer a place where sacrifices to Jehovah were being performed. Those sacrifices were resumed upon restoration of the Jews to the land of Judah (Ezra 3:1-6). That is why Zechariah 7:5 does not mention the 4th and 10th months’ ritual fasts, for they were not commemorated as events that had brought about the beginning of the 70 years of absence of Jews from Judah. After 70 years of loss of sacrifices in Jerusalem, then were sacrifices resumed, right on time in the 7th month. 

What do the angel's words "these 70 years" in Zechariah 1:12 mean? The angel's words were spoken about 18 years and 7 months after sacrifices had been resumed in Jerusalem; however, at the time he spoke, work on the temple had been suspended and outlawed, this so that no temple had been rebuilt in Jerusalem. Nobody, then, can make the argument that '"these 70 years" were words indicating that there had come into existence a real passage of time, a real period of time (of denunciations from Jehovah) that had finally become a total of 70 years only about the time when finally the angel spoke out of his sadness of heart about the situation in Jerusalem.'

Now, what follows is my reflection on what the I believe the angel likely intended by his words, which is that the angel's words are a simile spoken in hyperbolic fashion. If so, then the angel's words were his way of making it known that the temple's having yet to be rebuilt put him in mind of Jehovah's judgment against Jerusalem that really had stood in place for 70 unbroken years. For the angel, the situation in Jerusalem made him feel like it was still a matter of an on-going, unbroken punishment, as though 'the foretold 70 years for deserved punishment must not have already been fulfilled.' Although the foretold 70 years of judgment really had come to their end, yet the angel still felt for the same reasons the same sadness that had come upon him at the commencement of the 70 years desolation, as though he had yet to see "these 70 [foretold] years [of punishment]" come to their end.  Because sacred service to Jehovah in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem had yet to occur, then that let enemy nations draw the wrong conclusions about Jehovah and whether His eye really was on Jerusalem. Jehovah let the angel know that He (Jehovah) would soon act in a way that would sanctify Him in Jerusalem in the sight of enemy nations that He would set a-trembling by events that He would bring about in Jerusalem. 

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2 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

Watchtower September 1, 1922 Page 262 as incorrectly cited by JWinsider

Thanks for the correction. I have fixed the quote. I had left out the one I intended to put from 1924 first, also added below, and then fixed the one from 1922, which as you can see, is where the conflation was based upon:

 "The year 1925 is a date definitely and clearly marked in the Scriptures, even more clearly than that of 1914; . . ."  — The Watchtower, July 15, 1924, p. 211.

"The physical facts show beyond question of a doubt that 1914 ended the Gentile Times. . . . The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures [than 1914] because it is fixed by the Law God gave to Israel." — The Watchtower, September 1, 1922, p. 262.

In the second quote I had also left out the brackets in the bracketed words "[than 1914]."  This time, I added the prior sentence that made this point clear. 

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4 hours ago, Arauna said:

I started writing a book about the intrinsic  LOGIC of the Bible and how everything fits in perfectly - a few years back and decided to stop..... because I decided that I do not want to be competition for the slave..... Jehovah gave them the job to advertise the kingdom.... and I will not use what I learnt from the organization (even if I have a lot of my own ideas - to make money for myself.   I may later finish it and ask them if I can publish..... and if they do not like  ..... it is OK with me.  I am participating in the greatest work on earth - to teach others about Jehovah. 

The other way to look at it is that everyone writes about what they know best. I do. You, presumably, would be with your book. It seems silly that only JW writers should not be able to write about their topic of expertise. 

I can and do write of other things but it typically comes down to the same conclusion: 'such-and-such is a mess because we need God's kingdom to straighten things out." 

Write in such a way that you are not in competition - either offer personal accounts, anecdotes, current news items and how they relate - research that they would not likely do.

You said: "and I will not use what I learnt from the organization (even if I have a lot of my own ideas - to make money for myself"

I wrestled with this, too. But I am not Bethel and I have to pay the light bill. it's either write or Mickey D for me. Believe me, book proceeds do not make a significant dent, unless you hit mainstream, which is unlikely. It's just a hobby. A university professor  who has written a tome about Witnesses, as well as other books, tells me he is glad he did not quit the university - they don't exactly fly off the shelf.  Nonetheless, conscience of the moneymaking concern, I am working on a book "Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah's Witnesses write Russia." It will be free for some months. 

(I tried to put this in a thread b/c I think what's-her-name would want me to do, but I can't figure out where to do it. It seemed obvious at one time)

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4 hours ago, JW Insider said:

OK.. done. I have read it again. As always, I deeply appreciate the good research that has gone into the Insight book. When this book first came out under the name "Aid to Bible Understanding" I was just as amazed, especially at the "Chronology" section. It took me nearly four years of scratching out an hour or so each day to completely read the Aid book while still at Bethel. I have never completed the Insight book yet, although I recognize that most of the old entries have remained intact, verbatim, from the older Aid book.

That said, I would love to comment on many items of interest that I found in the "Chronology" article in Insight including everything I agree with and appreciated. First, I will try to limit my comments to those that are relevant to this discussion and the statements you have made above.

So here goes . . .

First, you said: "And -"NO"- the Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronologies are NOT firmly established! ... There is too little reliable evidence for that."

I can say that you have understood very well the basic premise of the the first half of the Chronology article. It is clearly intended to make us us think that the Babylonian Chronology is not firmly established, when it really is, as I said above, one of the MOST firmly established of all ancient timelines. By mixing the Neo-Babylonian in with the Sumerian and Assyrian chronologies, especially by mentioning the much earlier mythical portions of those chronologies, we can easily get confused into thinking the Neo-Babylonian is just like the others. It's always easy to think that if something is wrong with part of something then something must also be wrong with the whole. But we should keep in mind that the Watch Tower publications are so sure of the accuracy of the Neo-Babylonian chronology, hat they take ONE of the dates from it (539) and for many years called it an ABSOLUTE date, and used that date as an anchor for the 1914 doctrine that has been repeated over 6,000 times, according to the current updated WT-Library CD. In fact scholars refer to the entire Neo-Babylonian chronology as ABSOLUTE dates, therefore the Watch Tower publications now only refer to 539 as a "pivotal" or "assured" date, rather than an absolute date..

*** it-1 p. 448 Chronology ***
The histories of the ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, Persians, and others are, in the main, fragmentary; their earlier periods are either obscure or, as presented by them, obviously mythical.

A true statement "in the main" especially about their "earlier periods" but we are interested ONLY in the Neo-Babylonian period.

*** it-1 p. 448 Chronology ***
What is known from secular sources of these ancient nations has been laboriously pieced together from bits of information obtained from monuments and tablets or from the later writings of the so-called classical historiographers of the Greek and Roman period.

Notice that all these nations have still been mixed together, rather than marvel at the amazing completeness of the Neo-Babylonian period, based on literally THOUSANDS of interrelated, interlocking, dated tablets and monuments. It's true that it has been laboriously pieced together from bits of information. This is as we should expect, and it turns out that all these THOUSANDS of bits of information support the "accepted chronology." And we should note that the Watch Tower publications do refer to the entire Neo-Babylonian chronology as the "accepted chronology" -- not because one man named Carl Olof Jonsson accepts it, but because ALL the known Neo-Babylonian scholars accept the overwhelming evidence.  Obviously, these experts don't accept it just because it supports the Bible's timeline, yet it is easy to show that it really does.  And these same scholars are the ones that the Insight book relies upon for the 539 date. These THOUSANDS of pieces of evidence actually support the Bible's timeline much better than the Watch Tower's timeline.

*** kc p. 187 Appendix to Chapter 14 ***
Business tablets: Thousands of contemporary Neo-Babylonian cuneiform tablets have been found that record simple business transactions, stating the year of the Babylonian king when the transaction occurred. Tablets of this sort have been found for all the years of reign for the known Neo-Babylonian kings in the accepted chronology of the period.

This doesn't mean that the Watch Tower accepts the "accepted chronology," of course, but the reasons that the Watch Tower gives are not real reasons. It is very easy to show that they are just pretend reasons. The Insight book inadvertently admits that these are just pretend reasons, if you look at it closely enough.

*** it-1 pp. 448-449 Chronology ***
While archaeologists have recovered tens of thousands of clay tablets bearing Assyro-Babylonian cuneiform inscriptions, as well as large numbers of papyrus scrolls from Egypt, the vast majority of these are religious texts or business documents consisting of contracts, bills of sale, deeds, and similar matter. The considerably smaller number of historical writings of the pagan nations, preserved either in the form of tablets, cylinders, steles, or monumental inscriptions, consist chiefly of material glorifying their emperors and recounting their military campaigns in grandiose terms.

Notice the contradictory reasoning here. TENS OF THOUSANDS of clay tablets bearing inscriptions are supposedly minimized for being religious texts or mundane business documents. Notice what is left out, however: they are EACH ONE DATED to the year of the Babylonian king when the transaction occurred. Also, by throwing some Egyptian papyrus scrolls into the mix, it's possible to imply that many of the TENS OF THOUSANDS of business documents might be religious documents -- and this very likely makes us think they are reduced in value in determining a chronology. We are also supposed to get the idea that the historical writings are reduced in value because they glorify their emperors and military campaigns. We are supposed to think if "myth" and "exaggeration" here. These are the bad apples that are supposed to spoil the whole bushel.

*** it-1 p. 449 Chronology ***
Engraved in stone or inscribed in clay, some ancient pagan documents may seem very impressive, but this does not ensure their correctness and their freedom from falsehood. Not the material written on, but the writer, his purpose, his respect for truth, his devotion to righteous principles—these are the important factors that give sound basis for confidence, in chronological as well as other matters. The great age of the secular documents is certainly outweighed by the vastly inferior quality of their contents . . .

Yes, these contemporary documents will never be the Bible. But let's at least admit to what they are. In fact, these TENS OF THOUSANDS of business documents about mundane matters do not contain any of "myth" or "religion" or "exaggeration" and they are all dated. Not only that, but these dates are interconnected not just through the year of each king, but they include a second name, the name of the current "company president" always including who his father was, and sometimes even who his son was who would become the next president when his father died or retired. In addition to a complete timeline of the kings, you can also double-check it with a complete timeline of the firm's presidents and their sons, grandsons, great grandsons, etc. Thousands of the tablets come from the largest "financial firm" of that time, which handled real estate, banking, loans, and commerce contracts.

It's as if you had a great-grandmother you never met who claimed to live to be 120 years old, and then you went into an attic and found that she had left 10,000 checkbook receipts, loan receipts, deeds, etc., which are not only dated with the day and month, but she also added the year of each U.S. President to each check, so that they would say for example: Lincoln's 3rd year, Johnson's 1st year, Grant's 2nd year. But they also had the name of the bank president, and the bank president's son. So now you could see how long each U.S president served and even synchronize it with how long each bank president served. But the main thing is that she had several checks for each and every year of each president. And you would have no trouble putting them in order because she also had a memo on each check where you could double-check the father and son currently running the bank in every year, too. This way if there were two presidents named Johnson (Andrew and Lyndon) in her check receipts, you could know which was which.

But there is one more thing about the TENS OF THOUSANDS of business documents -- not mentioned. There are enough of them to show exactly what month of the year a given king died, because whenever a king was living the month and day and year of that king's reign was inscribed, but when he died the new king was shown sometimes in tablets of the same month just days after the new king was inaugurated, and the new king would be inscribed as being in his "0" year, or "accession" year.

There is one more point that is just as important. Some of these tablets match up with customer's names on preceding tablets, or some tablets refer to transactions that cut across the time period of two kings. This could be a loan made in the time of one king, but paid off three years later in the time of another king. Or it could be a payment for an item during the last months of one king, and another for the delivery of those items in the early months of another king.

In every case, we not only have tablets for every year of the timeline, but there is no way to claim the kings are in the wrong order, or that one might refer ambiguously to a different king of the same name. (This actually comes close to happening when some usurpers named Nebuchadnezzar show up, but their attempts lasted only a few months at a time, and happened long after the dates we are concerned about between Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus.)

Without mentioning any of these facts, the Insight book goes on with a quote from Ceran "The Secret of the Hittites." If you have the book you will know the true context of the quote.

*** it-1 pp. 449-450 Chronology ***
Well illustrating why secular histories do not qualify as the standard of accuracy by which to judge Bible chronology is this statement by archaeological writer C. W. Ceram, commenting on the modern science of historical dating:  ". . .For as we examine the sources of ancient history we see how scanty, inaccurate, or downright false, the records were even at the time they were first written. And poor as they originally were, they are poorer still as they have come down to us: half destroyed by the tooth of time or by the carelessness and rough usage of men.” —The Secret of the Hittites, 1956, pp. 133, 134.

There are so many things wrong with this type of quotation when you realize that it is almost all geared toward accepting 539 (capture of Babylon) and not accepting 587 (destruction of Jerusalem). Yet both dates are from the same experts. Also there is no conflict between the Neo-Babylonian dating and the Bible, the only conflict is the Watchtower's interpretation -- which was only found necessary as a way to reach the 1914 date. But this book is talking about the Hittites. In fact, in just the next couple of paragraphs he uses an example of King Menes in Egypt from 2900 BCE! The purpose appears to be in order to mix up the problems of the early Egyptian timeline with the Neo-Babylonian. But it also leaves out the very next paragraph after King Menes. In fact, back in a Watchtower article that tried to bolster more faith in the predictions made about the 1975 time period, it actually used this same book to say that 539 was "assured."

*** w68 5/1 pp. 270-271 pars. 2-3 Making Wise Use of the Remaining Time ***
" . . . the book The Secret of the Hittites, by C. W. Ceram, in the chapter entitled “The Science of Historical Dating,” states:  . . . “But as we go even deeper into the subject, our respect for the achievements of historical detective work returns. We learn that the scholars have been careful to distinguish between ‘assured’ and ‘assumed’ dates. And we discover that the chronological framework of ancient history rests upon at least a few firm points. Certain key dates, around which other dates are mustered, can be determined almost without error. They are ‘assured.’”
3 Hence, outside the Bible’s timetable, most dates set by historians are unreliable. Only a few “assured,” or absolute, dates, such as 539 B.C.E., . . .

Ceram didn't mention 539 here, the Watchtower added that. As far as the Egyptian chronology goes, note that the Watch Tower is only pushing for about a 100 year difference through much of it, and only a 20 year difference by the time of Josiah.

*** it-1 p. 450 Chronology ***
The difference between the above dates and those generally assigned by modern historians amounts to as much as a century or more for the Exodus and then narrows down to about 20 years by Pharaoh Necho’s time. The following information shows why we prefer to hold to the chronology based on the Biblical reckoning.

That 20-year difference was necessary in order to make Jerusalem's fall change from 587 (accepted date) to 607 (the date required for 1914 to work). It's not that there is any evidence for it. There is none. But what is extremely ironic is that the entire discussion of why the Egyptian dates are not accepted is almost a precise description of the same exact reasoning about why 587 is not accepted. But here's the real irony: every one of these factors that supposedly weakens the unaccepted dates are exactly the factors that were used in order to get the 539 date. In other words the Watch Tower Society doesn't really think these are weakening factors at all; we accept them all perfectly for 539, and even call 539 an ASSURED date because of the same factors. This is how we know that the reasons given are only "pretend" reasons.

Under Assyrian Chronology no attempt is made to synchronize:

*** it-1 p. 452 Chronology ***
The information above points to the conclusion that Assyrian historiography either is not correctly understood by modern historians or is of very low caliber. In either case, we do not feel compelled to attempt to coordinate the Biblical chronology with history as presented in the Assyrian records.

For now, we can leave it at that because nothing there is critical to the points of discussion under Babylonian chronology. Twice as much space is devoted to the Neo-Babylonian and Persian chronologies and the issues surrounding their accuracy. This is the most interesting to this discussion, so I will continue some comments for discussion in the next post.

There are some very valid arguments you raise here JWI.  I am not qualified to make any worthwhile and detailed comments on Bible chronology, especially that which pertains to 1914 because I have never studied any of it in depth, and as @Araunaremarked: " NONE of you have taken the time to really study the entire sections on Chronology as set out in the Insight book" . Well  I am one of those people, I have neither studied the Insight book's Chronology, nor COJ's Chronology nor other secular study of Bible chronology and to be honest, who of the 8 or so million regular Witnesses have?? (not counting Rolf Furuli and those in the writing department who were assigned to do this) I have only know one brother to date. He was not brought up as one of JWs but came into the truth later. He had already been used to studying as he had a university degree. He was the scholarly type. I remember he had a library full of secular books on Bible history and chronology. I remember once when we stayed at his house (my mum is good friends with his wife) he mentioned this one particular secular book on something or other to do with Bible history or chronology and how extremely interesting it was. I don't remember any details about what he said, I just remember my negative feelings at the time. It was funny, but it was almost an aversion to even the thought of someone reading something BESIDES our literature. Feelings of distrust and suspicion, that anything else is tantamount to the Devil's work. Funnily enough, these feelings could not have emanated from my mother, since she herself is an educated and well read woman, and has read many secular books and strongly believes in education. These feelings came from the "general" air of suspicion derived from our meetings and our own literature, including the general opinion of brothers and sisters sharing the suspicion among each other.  It is actually understandable, since our attitude (and quite rightly so) regarding the world is that it is lying in the power of the wicked one, and thus logically, he, Satan, will want to promote anything to weaken man’s trust in the Bible as being from God.  But statements by the WT such as “Secular experts have repeatedly questioned the Bible’s accuracy” is a broad brush which automatically taints anyone (besides us) who tries to interpret Bible chronology, as being probably, if not obviously,  WRONG. Unless of course they agree with us. Truly, on the whole, secular scholars are responsible for giving themselves this reputation in our eyes because of their adherence to the theory of evolution and other theories discrediting God.  It is understandable that many of the things these scholars write will be tainted with their supposition that God does not exist. HOWEVER, and this is a most important part, in my opinion, what does the date of Jerusalem’s destruction have anything to do with whether a scholar is a believer in God and the Bible’s veracity or not? What possible reason would a secular scholar have for not agreeing with Watchtower’s 607? Most scholars (as opposed to JW haters and opposers) have no hidden agenda and have nothing against Jehovah’s Witnesses.  I believe COJ had no hidden agenda either. He merely reported on the evidence that’s out there. On the other hand, we, Jehovah’s Witnesses, base a large part of our belief on 1914. We would have a lot more to “lose” were we to agree with the secular date.  I can’t even imagine the commotion if we retracted 1914.  BUT we have to remember; “we do not serve God because of a date” as was bought out in the video at the convention regarding 1975. How much does our personal relationship with Jehovah depend on a date? Do we serve God just because “the end is just around the corner” And to take it even further, how much of our personal relationship depends on the Governing Body?  IF the Governing Body were all to become apostate tomorrow, where would we stand?

Out of interest, when I was studying “what does the Bible really teach” with my student, a biologist (the ex atheist I already mentioned on here before) when we came to the appendix about 1914 I also gave her the two articles in the WT “When was Ancient Jerusalem destroyed” part 1 and 2. She found the articles interesting but unconvincing. We never went into any detail of those two articles, as both of us agreed that it was more important to go back to the Bible and see what it had to say on what God expects from us, and how to live our life to please him. 

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On 8/5/2017 at 8:06 AM, TrueTomHarley said:

If there is one thing I would gingerly suggest we do wrong, it is the frequently repeated admonition to stay away from any 'apostate reasoning' because it is like poison. I see why they do it - because the scriptures state they should - and yet it leads to almost a superstition among some of us that mere ideas are poisonous. In fact, the ideas are not poisonous; what is poisonous is many of the people who are pushing them.

True that! Also, unfortunately the way us humans are, we tend to "sensationalize" and ADD to things that are not there.

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I just want to know what "Bigly" world events happened in 1925 which outweighs 1914.... ... or any other date for that matter.  Any date which brought forth the world changing events of 1914.  Please help me out here!  You can change the date to whatever date you like with astounding reasonings and many quoted scriptures etc...... but I want to see the evidence on the ground!... and it must be really more significant than the events in and from 1914.  I am prepared to look at something I feel is really credible - otherwise you do not deserve  my attention!

Also - how much time is spent in teaching others about the Kingdom as instructed by Jesus.  This is our obligation.  We can spend all day in searching the scriptures and when we do not DO what Jesus said - all is in vain.  Our obedience is more important than knowledge because knowledge can puff us up and make us lose focus of bringing praise to Jehovah and warning  and informing our fellow humans on earth.  The attention of the focus can be ourselves if we indulge our own pleasures too much - whatever it is.

As you possibly may know my first language is not English and when I write fast I sometimes fail to check my sentences and my language... ..  I realize I am at a little disadvantage here! LOL  I am going to bow out gracefully now.  I have much preparation to do and I have been rushing in and out to return visits today..... so singing off in Sweden!

Good night.

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11 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

The other way to look at it is that everyone writes about what they know best. I do. You, presumably, would be with your book. It seems silly that only JW writers should not be able to write about their topic of expertise. 

@AraunaJust look at the amount of works Rolf Furuli wrote:

    Hello guest!

 

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2 hours ago, Arauna said:

I just want to know what "Bigly" world events happened in 1925 which outweighs 1914.... ... or any other date for that matter.  Any date which brought forth the world changing events of 1914.  Please help me out here!  You can change the date to whatever date you like with astounding reasonings and many quoted scriptures etc...... but I want to see the evidence on the ground!... and it must be really more significant than the events in and from 1914.  I am prepared to look at something I feel is really credible - otherwise you do not deserve  my attention!

EVIDENCE ON THE GROUND !!

That is the phrase I have been looking for for many years.

Thank You!

JTR

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Who is the slave.... to give food at proper time.  You either believe they are the appointed slave to give food at proper time or you don't.  Simple.  Your words and actions will prove what you think....One must be prepared to step back and let your opinions take second place.

As someone said earlier - if interpretation were given to everyone - we would have 8 million different interpretations wouldn't we? As each person thinks they can serve better and have more of Jehovah's Spirit to interpret what they find.  Our final test (I think) will come when the slave is attacked in a most vicious way and false information spread about them to deceive and take Witnesses away from our most basic beliefs such as not voting, neutrality etc.

I also think there is a difference  between having confidence/trust in Jehovah and his abilities to lead; and personal humility.  I think that very few people work on the teaching of Christ that we should lessen ourselves and be prepared to suffer for it as he did. Most Witnesses need to work on this.  Moses had to spend 40 years of his life with SHEEP!  Intellectual pursuit ?  Naa....  he had to learn to trust Jehovah completely.   Then only - was he ready to lead Jehovah's people in true humility of spirit.  All that fancy education in Pharaoh's palace was useless. Joseph spent 13 years in a prison.... (he really had to trust in Jehovah -  I would have given up by year 3)..... Must have been pretty nasty in there.  No human rights.... etc.

I wanted to mention that if the Sumerian chronology is out - then you start at a very rocky basis for the other dynasties which come after.... and some of them overlapped and ran simultaneously. Perfect clarity and "absolute" is not the words I would use to describe the DATES for these dynasties.... Very skeptical....

I mentioned my book to demonstrate that it is not important what we achieve in this world.....  at present I am too busy in the field in any case..... but that we sometimes have to step back and be happy with being a no-body and not achieving anything of great significance!  I have lost all ambition regarding this world and since I did that I am extremely happy!   I was raised in an extremely ambitious family and it took a long time to get rid of this trait.  Like a jack-in-the box- it jumps out sometimes and I have to push it back in.  One can even be ambitious in the truth - to stand out....... all of us should investigate ourselves to see if that spark of putting ourselves in front and grudging others a place in the sun is still part of our personality.  I do not count my value in how many people I helped get in the truth, how many studies at one time, and how many seeds I sowed.....  I just keep at the job and wait on Jehovah.... and the peace it brings is so uncluttered!

If all of us had a waiting attitude (while doing what Jehovah requires from us) most things usually sorts itself out.... and there are always adjustments in the teachings to help us stay faithful to Jehovah...... is this not after all the main goal of all of us? ..... to stay faithful?

 

 

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23 hours ago, TiagoBelager said:

Zechariah 7:5 expressly relates that there were lamentations and fasts that the Jews had practiced in the 5th and 7th months of every year for 70 years. During just those 70 years, those fasts might have seemed appropriate for as long as the land had remained desolated without sacrifices offered to Jehovah in Jerusalem. But even when conditions were as they had been for 70 years, were the fasts and wailings that had occurred ritually in the 5th and 7th months for the 70 years really done by most Jews out of repentant hearts? No, and now that the 70 years desolation had ended, it should be apparent to all right-hearted inhabitants in Judea that continuation of the annual, commemorative rituals now for a grand total of “O how many years” (Zechariah 7:3; thus a total of even more than 70 times by the time of Zechariah's relaying the word of Jehovah to Jews living in Judea sometime after the 70 years exile had come to their foretold completion) had become entirely perfunctory with no basis for even a hypocritical pretext of fasting and lamentation out of sadness, this since restoration had already occurred after the 70 years exile. After all, even during the 70 years of real loss to the Jews (the loss of the temple, and loss of Jerusalem as habitation for anyone who might want to use the site for sacrifices (see Jeremiah 41:5)), the displays of ritual sadness were, for the most part, not done out of godly sadness/repentance—not so for most Jews, anyhow, but had become rituals done perfunctorily. The 5th month’s ritual of hypocrisy was commemoration of Nebuchadnezzar’s razing of the temple (see Jeremiah 52:12, 13) and the emptying of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 40:1-13); and the ritual of hypocrisy in the 7th month was commemoration of the last time for 70 years to come that any Jews might have gone back into Jerusalem for sacrifices. The site would not become available for sacrifices until the end of 70 years of exile, for nobody was in the environs of Judah for 70 years following the destruction of the city (see events recorded in Jeremiah 41ff).   It is therefore significant that the fast of every 4th month and the fast of every 10th month were not fasts in commemoration of events that had even seen 70 commemorative performances before restoration of the Jews to the land of Judah had occurred (Ezra 3:1-6). That is why Zechariah 7:5 does not mention the 4th and 10th months’ ritual fasts, for they were not commemorated for a total of the 70 times that had occurred during exactly the 70 years of exile. After 70 years of loss of sacrifices in Jerusalem, then were sacrifices resumed, right on time in the 7th month. 

You might be right but here's why it doesn't make any sense to me. AC refers to "Accepted Chronology" and WT refers to Watch Tower Chronology. In the "accepted chronology" the indignities against Jerusalem had gone on for 69 years, or even 71 years if you start from the major events from the 18-month siege lasting from 589 to the destruction in 587. In the Watch Tower's timeline, these indignities had started 90 years ago. Zechariah supports the "accepted chronology" (or vice versa) when he says that mercy had been withheld from Jerusalem for only 70 years, not 90 years as the Watchtower timeline says:

  • #AC                       [<-----------------about 70 years from 587 to 518------------------->]
  • #WT   [<--------------------------about 90 years from 607 to 518------------------------------>]
  • ...6..6......6.........5..5......5.........5.........5.........5.........55........5.........5.5.......5
  • ...1..0......0.........9..8......8.........7.........6.........5.........43........3.........2.1.......1
  • ...0..7......0.........0..7......0.........0.........0.........0.........09........0.........0.8.......0

The Insight book says that Zechariah 1:7 is dated to about 519 BCE, right? That's near the end of the 2nd year of Darius.

(Zechariah 1:7) . . .On the 24th day of the 11th month, that is, the month of Sheʹbat, in the second year of Da·riʹus, the word of Jehovah came to the prophet Zech·a·riʹah . . .

(Zechariah 1:12) . . .So the angel of Jehovah said: “O Jehovah of armies, how long will you withhold your mercy from Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with whom you have been indignant these 70 years?

*** it-2 p. 1226 Zechariah, Book of ***
About February 9, 519 B.C.E., the prophet Zechariah heard the words: “The whole earth is sitting still and having no disturbance.” (Zec 1:7, 11)

This would mean that the statements in Zechariah 7 were in 518 (almost 517) being now in the 4th year of Darius.

(Zechariah 7:1) . . .And in the fourth year of King Da·riʹus, the word of Jehovah came to Zech·a·riʹah on the fourth day of the ninth month, that is, the month of Chisʹlev. 2 The people of Bethʹel sent Shar·eʹzer and Reʹgem-melʹech and his men to beg for the favor of Jehovah, 3 saying to the priests of the house of Jehovah of armies and to the prophets: “Should I weep in the fifth month and abstain from food, as I have done for so many years?”  4 The word of Jehovah of armies again came to me, saying: 5 “Say to all the people of the land and to the priests, ‘When you fasted and wailed in the fifth month and in the seventh month for 70 years, did you really fast for me?

(Zechariah 8:19) 19 “This is what Jehovah of armies says, ‘The fast of the fourth month, the fast of the fifth month, the fast of the seventh month, and the fast of the tenth month will be occasions for exultation and joy for the house of Judah—festivals of rejoicing. . . .

You started out saying:

"Zechariah 7:5 expressly relates that there were lamentations and fasts that the Jews had practiced in the 5th and 7th months of every year for 70 years."

This reflects what we've been taught, that these lamentations and fasts had been practiced for 70 years, and the Watchtower suggests that these reflect the period of the 70 years between 607 and 537. Therefore the fasts would likely start on that first anniversary of 607 which would be the 5th and 7th month of 606, the following year in Babylon. They could end when the new foundation was laid in the 7th month of 537. (Ezra 3:1)  This would mean that the fasting in the 7th month would likely have run from 606 to 538. A total of 68 or 69 years, i.e., about 70 years.   But clearly, the fasting was still going on at the time of Zechariah's writing, 90 years after 607; it had not stopped 20 years earlier as the Watchtower suggests.

There have been a couple of explanations for Jehovah's disapproval of these fasts. The explanation you gave is one of them. Also:

*** w96 11/15 p. 5 Does God Require Fasting? ***
Some fasts established by the Jews met with God’s disapproval right from the outset. For example, at one time the people of Judah had four annual fasts to commemorate the calamitous events associated with Jerusalem’s siege and desolation in the seventh century B.C.E. (2 Kings 25:1-4, 8, 9, 22-26; Zechariah 8:19) After the Jews were released from captivity in Babylon, Jehovah said through the prophet Zechariah: “When you fasted . . . , and this for seventy years, did you really fast to me, even me?” God did not approve of these fasts because the Jews were fasting and mourning over judgments that had come from Jehovah himself. They were fasting because of the calamity that befell them, not because of their own wrongdoing that led to it. After they were restored to their homeland, it was time for them to rejoice instead of bemoaning the past.—Zechariah 7:5.

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On 8/8/2017 at 11:51 AM, ComfortMyPeople said:

 

But, some questions arise:

  • ·        Did the Christians of the first century need to think incorrectly about Romans 13 in order to resist the persecution of Nero?
  • ·        When our point of view was finally rectified (I believe in 1963 or close) did the brethren under the steel curtain begin to be less faithful then?

The answer is obvious. Isn’t it?

 

    Yes it is obvious that Jesus is the head of the Congregation and we should never question what he does either in the First Century or today.

     As regards all the arguments by the poster about the parousia it is obvious that the truth is "simple" for Jesus himself defines the meaning of parousia not as a moment in time such as a judgement day but rather as the "DAYS of Noah" a period of time where people would do normal things but ignore the "signs" around them. Mt. 24

Luke 17:26 "presence...DAYS of the SON OF MAN"

   That Jesus’ pa·rou·siʹa is not simply a momentary coming followed by a rapid departure but is, rather, a presence covering a period of time is also indicated by his words recorded at Matthew 24:37-39 and Luke 17:26-30. Here “the days of Noah” are compared to “the presence of the Son of man” (“the days of the Son of man,” in Luke’s account). Jesus, therefore, does not limit the comparison just to the coming of the Deluge as a final climax during Noah’s days, though he shows that his own “presence” or “days” will see a similar climax. Since “the days of Noah” actually covered a period of years, there is basis for believing that the foretold “presence [or “days”] of the Son of man” would likewise cover a period of some years, being climaxed by the destruction of those not giving heed to the opportunity afforded them to seek deliverance.
 

In regards to all your other questions you posted about Jehovah's Witnesses please hear the talk below.

  

 Do You Appreciate Jehovahs Representatives.mp3

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In Western countries it is easier to have your own opinion and just get on with life because you will not pose a threat to anyone else's spirituality in the congregation.  Since we have one family in the entire world we must take care not to stumble others. It is our duty to be responsible towards others and use our words only in an upbuilding way. The "idea" for the discussion is not the problem - it is the underlying attitude behind the promotion of a new idea that can become the problem

Satan started in this way - promoted a new idea..... and it just happened to be a treasonous one.  We all like to think we are intellectual and smart and we like to give ourselves the "permission" to discuss intellectually with others a subject -  but it is mainly to satisfy a selfish desire.

I happen to have lived in Africa 45 years..... I understand that elders have to be vigilant to new ideas that may be corrupting.  Education is often limited and tribal ideas still flourish..... politics and tribal issues easily influence people.  I now again heard of brothers that were reproved......because they do not "see" the implications of what they do.  I  now also work in Middle Eastern communities which is the total opposite.  To say something against Mohammad is treason and punishable by death.

We have a much more reasonable approach - to allow free thought but to be watchful for spreading of contentious ideas. 

Sadly, I have lost some friends and a family member to apostasy.....I know the signs and the pattern of behavior.   It usually starts with a 'brilliant new way of looking at a subject....... then the person becomes totally obsessive about it..... then the person tries to have others agree with them and the strange thing is - they do not stop ...... they go on and on......they cannot help themselves....there is an uncanny obsessiveness about it.........then they turn nasty against the "slave" when they are called in and reproved... and then become a rebel against authority in the organization and then some go on to extend their activities into activism to the point where they malign the "slave" and  organization.

I have seen on these pages here that the 70 years in captivity was questioned;  I have seen on these pages that a date (607 BCE) was questioned (while I gave very good reasons why it is a valid date for the beginning of the trampling by the nations);  I have seen the 1914 was questioned and the Parousia.....  I can go on and on....You see - when one does not accept the one idea - then it leads to so many other things that are not accepted and "questioned".

I have seen the "OCD"  which is so strong that a person will spend hours and hours of their life to just focus on this "one" subject and basically cannot go on with other activities  - like being an active part of the congregation and spend much time in preaching This to me is a "flag" that all is not "kosher" - I do not care how open minded and spiritual you say you are. - this is a flag  I know the spreading of new "ideas" and the compulsion which drives it.

As I said before ...... If you do not believe that Jesus is ruling invisible in heaven now and he started ruling in 1914.  What are you doing in this organization?  because you cannot be trusted to go out in field service and teach the truth in an "unhypocritical " way.   I would not trust such a one - and I am not and elder and never will be.  

So, I can only say - the new way of looking at these dates is not the problem to me - it is the obsessiveness with it - which is.  It is as though this drives the person and all his social contacts....to this point of discussion. And what better place can one find than a forum like this?

 

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JW Insider,

I have made some corrections and clarifications in an edit of the post to which you responded. In the main, nothing of substance as might affect my uses of Zechariah 1:12 and 7:3, 5 has been made. Those verses do not stand as any hindrance to our using 539 B.C.E. as the fall of Babylon, and thus 537 B.C.E. as the year when the Jews were able to resume offering sacrifices to Jehovah in Jerusalem, thus ending a period of 70 years from when the the desolation of the land had begun in 607 B.C.E. In fact, absence in Zechariah 7:5 of mention of the fasts of the 4th and 10th months actually supports the conclusion that there really was an actual 70-years period of time that began with the absence of sacrifices, which was caused by events in the 5th and 7th months. And so it is understandable why Jehovah did not mention, in Zech. 7:5, the 4th and 10th months, and that because the memorial fasts in those months did not commemorate events that caused a real 70-years period of time during which sacrifices were not offered; the fasts of the 4th and 10th months did not fit Jehovah's rationale for why He was singling out for comment just a 70-years period of time. Jehovah's audience was only too painfully aware of what those 70 years had meant for them. Assuming that some were not merely keeping the fasts perfunctorily, but felt sadness for events that meant a 70 years absence from the land, we have Jehovah's assurance that they had the wrong kind of sadness, a sadness for their loss but not for what their sins had cost Jehovah. Whatever the motivation for the fasts -- whether for sake of just perfunctorily going along with the crowd, or whether out of self-pity, the fasts were hypocritical. They ought never to have commenced so long as they were not going to occur out of repentance, and certainly no good reason could ever obtain as motivation for w