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Truly I tell you today . . .


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1 hour ago, Thinking said:

He will probably treat them like he did the thief on the stake next to him but the thing is he repented at the last moment...where as the other fellow didn’t ......so what happens to him....wouldn’t he be covered by Jesus ransom...?

[Moved from another place to avoid an off-topic discussion]

Good question. I have wondered what the point was if we generally think that both of them have pretty much the same chance to repent and be resurrected to Paradise on earth. It has occurred to me that this person dying around the same time as Jesus, might be another indicator of the change in hope for Christians at the time, for which we partially depend upon Matthew 11:12 :

(Matthew 11:12) From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of the heavens is the goal toward which men press, and those pressing forward are seizing it.

The "truly I tell you today" verse could be another indication that our view of Matthew 11:12 is correct, if Jesus were referring to paradise as heaven, just as Paul spoke of heaven as paradise:

(2 Corinthians 12:2-4) . . .was caught away to the third heaven. 3 Yes, I know such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body, I do not know; God knows— 4 who was caught away into paradise . . .

And this might re-open up the discussion of why the Bible writer would have included a statement that seemed clear but actually needed to be seen as more ambiguous by adding a comma, nearly two thousand years after the statement. While Greek was still a living language, no early translations (into Coptic, Syrian, Latin, etc.) noticed the need to add a comma here:

(Luke 23:43) . . .“Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”

Compare Jesus' words about a rooster the day before:

(Mark 14:30) . . .“Truly I say to you that today, yes, on this very night. . .

At any rate, these are the kinds of questions that don't really change anything. ("First world problems" as xero said about something else.) Even if Jesus had meant "today" in the unambiguous sense, we would simply take it in the same way we understand Jesus' words about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob:

(Matthew 22:31-33) 31 Regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, who said: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’? He is the God, not of the dead, but of the living.” 33 On hearing that, the crowds were astounded at his teaching.

Or perhaps, with new questions, we could look at the following:

(Matthew 8:11, 12) . . .But I tell you that many from east and west will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of the heavens; 12 whereas the sons of the Kingdom will be thrown into the darkness outside. . . .

(Luke 13:26-28) 26 Then you will start saying, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our main streets.’ 27 But he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from. Get away from me, all you workers of unrighteousness!’ 28 There is where your weeping and the gnashing of your teeth will be, when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown outside.

(Luke 16:21-31) . . .. 22 Now in the course of time, the beggar died and was carried off by the angels to Abraham’s side. “Also, the rich man died and was buried. 23 And in the Grave he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and he saw Abraham from afar and Lazʹa·rus by his side. 24 So he called and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazʹa·rus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this blazing fire.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you had your fill of good things in your lifetime, but Lazʹa·rus for his part received bad things. Now, however, he is being comforted here, but you are in anguish. 26 And besides all these things, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to go over from here to you cannot, neither may people cross over from there to us.’ 27 Then he said, ‘That being so, I ask you, father, to send him to the house of my father, 28 for I have five brothers, in order that he may give them a thorough witness so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to these.’ 30 Then he said, ‘No, indeed, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’”

(Hebrews 11:8-16) . . .By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, although not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as a foreigner in the land of the promise as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the very same promise. 10 For he was awaiting the city having real foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith also Sarah received power to conceive offspring, even when she was past the age, since she considered Him faithful who made the promise. 12 For this reason, from one man who was as good as dead, there were born children, as many as the stars of heaven in number and as innumerable as the sands by the seaside. 13 In faith all of these died, although they did not receive the fulfillment of the promises; but they saw them from a distance and welcomed them and publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land. 14 For those who speak in such a way make it evident that they are earnestly seeking a place of their own. 15 And yet, if they had kept remembering the place from which they had departed, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they are reaching out for a better place, that is, one belonging to heaven. Therefore, God is not ashamed of them, to be called on as their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

These latter verses especially tell us that there were already exceptions seeking the kingdom of the heavens as their goal, which might reflect upon the meaning of "kingdom of the heavens" in Matthew 11:12.

I don't think that there is anything here that in any way contradicts our view that Abraham is still in the grave, as David still is --(Acts 2:34) ". . .For David did not ascend to the heavens. . . ." Hebrews 11: 13 says pretty much the same.

So I think that the "Truly I tell you today" verse is not a verse about the difference in whether Jesus meant that literal day, or whether we needed to add a comma. The important difference between the two evil-doers was that Jesus' presence on earth and our reaction to him, reveals our choice to seek the Kingdom of the Heavens. Just as with Abraham, it's not about whether we live in heaven or on earth, but that all of us should be seeking a place belonging to the heavens. In other words, like Abraham, we all have a heavenly hope, whether Jehovah allows us to live on paradise earth or in paradise heaven.

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I read your story with unfeigned interest before your final question hit me. I rarely laugh out loud literally, but I just did. Thanks.

[Moved from another place to avoid an off-topic discussion] Good question. I have wondered what the point was if we generally think that both of them have pretty much the same chance to repent an

I once worked for an inventory company—you may have seen their counters at various stores—there may be one hundred or more at large venues. Occasionally anal managers would come along to insist on no

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9 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

Moved from another place to avoid an off-topic discussion

I once worked for an inventory company—you may have seen their counters at various stores—there may be one hundred or more at large venues. Occasionally anal managers would come along to insist on no talking whatsoever!!! among the workers. (It does marginally improve the count)

Comraderie was the only thing that job had going for it. “Why can’t we get good people?!” one of the managers complained. “Because we don’t offer anything,” my favorite manager would answer back.

As such times as enforced silence I would make it my life mission to break down that discipline, and more often than not I succeeded. One might think I would be out on my ear for conduct like this, but I was a peacemaker, a force for cohesion, I wasn’t competitive, I would freely help others, particularly newbies, and for this a multitude of sins were overlooked.

I once was assigned a shift under Gladys, a legendary dragon, whom I almost never worked under—she covered a different time period. “Don’t worry about Gladys,” I told a newbie. “Yes, she is a dragon, and she is mean as the day is long, but if you just do your job you will not have any trouble.” She was right behind me!!

I didn’t back down when she took offense. “Well, come on,Gladys! You know how you are!”

She dismissed me later from the job for talking. But I refused to leave. “You can not request me for an additional job, but no way can you send me home from this one after I’ve gone to all the trouble to show up!” So I stayed. She did win a victory of sorts, though, for I talked no more during that night.

24 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

Moved from another place to avoid an off-topic discussion

You think so, do you?

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On 2/27/2021 at 10:02 AM, JW Insider said:

I read your story with unfeigned interest before your final question hit me.

Sorry, you’ve got me going on this new topic. Forget about yours.

For many years I worked in what would now be called the gig economy (but wasn’t then). If it is a “fault,” it is my fault and cannot be laid at the feet of the organization. Relatively recently I heard an update of this sister I vaguely know who decades ago said (regarding fellowshopping), “I thought of Tom, but he was too immature.” Let me tell you that my estimation of her rose, for I had been a young elder at that time, and not everyone was so astute. Someone else described me as being “so spiritually minded that I was no earthly good.”

As to the “gig economy,” another sister said (not specifically about me) that often really creative and/or intelligent people deliberately choose menial work so as not to hand over their mind and soul to “the man.” I can apply this to myself with some truth, but it also smacks somewhat of putting lipstick on a pig. For the longest time I would say, “If I am good at it, it does not pay, and if it pays I am not good at it.” Thus I took a lot of “gigs,” most of which I enjoyed or made the best of, but they kept me “grounded.” I was not like another friend, a brother with the “Midas touch,” who said, “If it were not for the truth, I could be filthy rich. As it is, I am just a little dirty rich.”

Much less was I like “Davey the kid,” who bypassed a college scholarship to pioneer, who loved his time in Bethel but confessed he always felt a little cheated there by not being able to make his own way. Upon leaving Bethel, he walked into the 8-story Medical Arts Building to secure the cleaning contract. The building manager pointed out this and that requirement and challenge, noting, “I don’t know much about cleaning.” “That makes two of us!” Davey said to himself as he signed the contract, “how hard can it be?”  “It’s my gift,” he told me later, “they never say no.” He used his gift to good effect, building two Kingdom Halls and one Assembly Hall, more or less taking charge of the latter, and absolutely the former—this was before the days of the Regional committees which was before the days of the LDCs. Being daily at the Assembly Hall, he would receive phone calls. “Sorry, I have to put out a cleaning fire,” he would tell the other brothers, and spend some moments sweet-talking some businesspeople on the phone. Finally he tired of it, took a few college courses, combined it with college credit for “life experiences,” and emerged a psychotherapist. “Poor Davey,” I would joke later. “He always thought half of us were nuts. Now that he is in the field he finds that even those he thought were sane, they’re nuts, too.” He didn’t regard all of his preparatory coursework as nonsense, which he may have assumed would be the case going in. “Some of this stuff I’m not doing myself,” he said, as he applied his new training to good effect. But I digress.

I was lost while I was in college, not really knowing why I was there, having merely taken the path of least resistance, not sure where it was leading me, if anywhere, and not sure if I wanted to go wherever it was leading, with a ton of questions, issues, misgivings, and considerable immaturity, that was unaddressed there. I wanted simplicity, yet felt pressured (as though “manipulated”) to “succeed.” Running across Jehovah’s people was a liberation for me. It addressed questions that I didn’t know I had. It pointed towards a way of life where happiness and contentment lay. In short, it offered a way to leave the “rat race” with impunity. It put together the puzzle pieces. I still say that “once you have assembled the puzzle and have reproduced the box top picture, you are pretty much immune to the person who says you put it together wrong. You are especially immune if that person’s own puzzle lies unassembled in the box on his closet shelf.”

Yearning for that simplicity, once when I drove home for break from university and I carried a passenger who lived nearby, I mentioned as we approached the Thruway toll station that such a job would suit me just fine. The girl laughed hysterically, certain I was pulling her leg. I wasn’t. She was the daughter of some local politician, lived in a very upscale community—mine was no slouch, but it did not approach hers, and I sometimes wonder what became of her.

Decades later, when i just needed pocket money, I quizzed one of those Thruway toll-takers. They were then hiring part-timers. I knew the person hiring, and no doubt could have easily gotten the job had I pursued it. The toll-taker assured me it was peaceful gig and unstressful. “What do you do for bathroom breaks?” I asked him. He assured me THAT was a problem—all the more so for a guy as they reach senior years/

All the toll-takers are gone now. Long after everyone else abandoned them to go the digital scanning route, New York finally followed suit. I noted once how you can drive from Florida and soon after crossing any state line you would encounter a “Welcoming Center.” This happened until you crossed the state line into New York, where you would encounter, “Stop! Pay toll!” In recent years, I got into the habit of saying, “Worth every penny!” after paying this or that toll-taker, just to play and see their reaction.  One of them said, savoring his drawn-out words, “It is not!”

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5 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

As to the “gig economy,” another sister said (not specifically about me) that often really creative and/or intelligent people deliberately choose menial work so as not to hand over their mind and soul to “the man.”

In 1973, when I quit high school, I was still 15, almost 16, and my art teacher had a terrible time with it. The principal came over to the house once, but my art teacher made several "shepherding" calls to our house during that summer, encouraging me to come back after the summer break. He tried to bribe me with paints, canvases, pens, charcoal, brushes, etc. I took some of these to Bethel in 1976 and still run across leftovers in the house now and then.

But, in 1973, I had already switched from auxiliary to regular pioneering and decided that this was an example of Jehovah providing a work opportunity. So I painted landscapes and sold them for between $10 and $25 depending on size. I became "rich" to the tune of about $50 a month for a few months. Even if I had been any good at portraits --I definitely wasn't-- I probably could have barely doubled that, since more people will pay to have a likeness done. So I had to change my strategy quickly to join my brother's cleaning business. This put me in a "club" of regular pioneers, where I knew members across the entire state.

There was even a lot of buying and selling of cleaning accounts. And real mergers and acquisitions.

5 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

Much less was I like “Davey the kid,” who bypassed a college scholarship to pioneer, who loved his time in Bethel but confessed he always felt a little cheated there by not being able to make his own way. Upon leaving Bethel, he walked into the 8-story Medical Arts Building to secure the cleaning contract.

Yes. I read about him here: https://www.tomsheepandgoats.com/friends/

After Bethel, I still didn't feel ready for the great big world. Art was not an easy thing in NYC so I didn't even try. And I didn't get the bindery or printing  or construction experience that most Bethelites got. I had my letters of recommendation from Dan Sydlik and Bert Schroeder that were supposed to be useful for general employment. But if you have ever seen examples of these letters, they were only about exemplary conduct and honesty, and this was supposed to impress a prospective employer, but without any specifics or skills mentioned. I tried to use one of them with my resume which necessarily included my years of Bethel experience, but I had the impression that these letters actually detracted.

My brother would leave Bethel later and start a micro-controller business which followed directly upon his Bethel assignments, and he had help from our Dad who had been doing electronics work since the 1940's. I hoped not to just fall into the older brother employment network again, so I ended up getting married and going off to college myself part-time.

5 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

Finally he tired of it, took a few college courses, combined it with college credit for “life experiences,” and emerged a psychotherapist.

Reminds me that ex-JWs have sometimes unfairly made fun of an old Circuit Overseer refrain that a few years of reading the Awake! magazine can be the equivalent of a 4-year college degree. But I also found that the university had a program called "Adult Collegiate Education" which allowed night classes and also allowed one to work with professors of various departments to try to test out of a bunch of credits to meet the 128-132 credit requirement for the B.A./B.S. degree. It wasn't from the "Awake!" of course, but due to some research projects I managed Middle-East history credits (8), first semester Classical Greek (3), first semester Modern Greek (4), and since I had been attending a French congregation on the side, even got 3 French credits. I had a large art portfolio worth, sadly, only 4 credits. I also tried with limited success at some other subjects: religion, philosophy, Bible as literature, music theory, psychology, but only squeaked out about 6 more credits altogether. But it shaved a full year off my 4-year Computer Science degree so that I could mostly focus on math, computer programming, and 7 semesters of Hebrew.

5 hours ago, TrueTomHarley said:

people deliberately choose menial work so as not to hand over their mind and soul to “the man.”

I have discovered, as many others have, that you are paid better for less tangible work. The person who works hard at menial jobs is paid for some measure of productivity and, nearly always, very little. But the higher paying jobs are often much less taxing to the mind and soul. Sometimes, if your productivity cannot be measured, the sky is the limit.

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7 hours ago, JW Insider said:

He tried to bribe me with paints, canvases, pens, charcoal, brushes, etc. I took some of these to Bethel in 1976 and still run across leftovers in the house now and then.

Here is a brother who got his start in the Bethel art department:

https://www.facebook.com/100003863247474/posts/2000662983405790/

 

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