JW Book: What Can the Bible Teach Us?

TrevorL

Active member
JW Book: What Can the Bible Teach Us?

Towards the end of 2019 I obtained a small JW book “What Can the Bible Teach Us?” I spoke to two JW ladies who had a magazine and booklet stand. I raised the subject of the return of Jesus based on Acts 1:11 and Acts 3:19-21, and they raised the subject of the 144,000 and a few other topics. The book is similar to an earlier book that I had received some years ago “What Does the Bible Really Teach?” The new book is basically a revision of the old, with similar chapter titles, while the new has endnotes replacing different appendix notes in the old.

In general I agree with much of what is stated, but some JW ideas are introduced without any Biblical support, and these ideas simply reflect the environment and teaching of the JWs. I invite discussion on the following brief comments and the JW view.

Chapter 1: Who is God?
Page 12: “God has told us that his name is Jehovah.” Comment: It is generally recognised that YHWH is better understood as Yahweh. Please consider Rotherham’s introduction. I agree with the future tense.
Page 17: “God wants us to have the best life possible.” Comment: This is true ultimately, but God subjects us to many circumstances now to develop us and some of these trials can be very difficult.

Chapter 2 The Bible – A Book from God
Page 22: “In Matthew chapters 5 to 7, we read very good advice that Jesus gave on how to be happy …”. Comment: Similar to the previous comment. Jesus speaks about being blessed, especially in the future.

Chapter 3 What is God’s Purpose for Humans?
Page 30: “Satan .. made it look as though the snake was talking.” Comment: The Bible states that the serpent was discerning and spoke Genesis 3:1.
Page 38: “We die because we inherited sin from Adam.” Comment: We do not inherit sin, but we inherit the effects of sin.

Chapter 4 Who is Jesus Christ?
Page 40 Endnote 12: “God created Jesus before everything else.” Comment: I do not accept this as I believe that Jesus did not pre-exist his conception and birth.
Page 51: “Luke 1:30-35 Jehovah sent Jesus to the earth.” Comment: Luke 1:30-35 speaks about the conception and anticipated birth of Jesus. God was his father through the power of the Holy Spirit.
 

TrevorL

Active member
In my opening post I said “In general I agree with much of what is stated” in chapters 1-4 of the JW book “What Can the Bible Teach Us?”, but there are many items in chapter 5 which I find difficult and that I do not agree with.

Chapter 5: The Ransom – God’s greatest gift
Page 54: “None of us could ever pay the ransom for the perfect life that Adam lost. The ransom that had to be paid was another perfect human life. The ransom that had to have the same value as the life that Adam lost.” Comment: This is the basis of the JW understanding of the concept of the ransom. The word ransom is used in the Scriptures, but it is only one aspect of a larger subject. The reasoning behind the JW concept ignores many important aspects of the redemption available in Jesus Christ. Some of the additional comments in this chapter shows some of the logic used to come to their conclusion.

Page 54: “Jehovah transferred Jesus from heaven to earth, and Jesus was born a perfect human, without sin Luke 1:35”. Comment: Jesus was not transferred from heaven, neither was he born a perfect human. Jesus was born as a descendant of Adam through Mary and shared our fallen human nature. Nevertheless he never sinned and he overcame sin and all its effects.

Page 55: “Three days after that, Jehovah brought Jesus back to life, not as a human, but as a spirit person.” Comment: Jesus is still a human, but a glorified human. Their statement vaguely introduces the JW unique idea that the human body of Jesus was not raised but somehow preserved separately. The sentence of returning to the dust Genesis 3:19 was reversed in Jesus when his body saw no corruption Acts 2:30-32 and God quickened his dead body after three days and raised Jesus from the dead and gave him immortal life.

Page 59 – Endnote 16: “The Memorial: Those who will rule with Jesus in heaven eat the bread and drink the wine. Those who have the hope of living forever on earth respectfully attend the Memorial but do not eat the bread or drink the wine.” Comment: This introduces the unique JW teaching concerning the 144,000. I asked the ladies and they stated that there are none of the 144,000 in their meeting. As a result none of the JWs partake of the emblems. My understanding is that all the believers should remember Christ’s death and resurrection by means of the emblems each week. JWs only “celebrate” this once a year.
 

TrevorL

Active member
I considered Chapters 1-4 of the JW book “What Can the Bible Teach Us?” in Post #1 and Chapter 5 in Post #2. My initial focus will be to highlight the items which I find difficult and that I do not agree with.

Chapter 6: Where do we go when we die?
I agree with most of this chapter as together with JWs and SDAs, as I believe in the resurrection at the return of Jesus and I do not believe that we have an immortal soul that goes to heaven or hell at death. The JW concept that the serpent in Genesis 3 is somehow Satan recurs in this chapter, three times on page 65 and once on page 66:
Page 66: “Satan said that Eve wouldn’t die, so Eve ate some of the fruit and then gave some to her husband.” Comment: The serpent was one of the creatures that was created as related in Genesis 1 and had the ability to discern and speak.

Chapter 7: There will be a resurrection!
Again as I do not believe in immortal souls, I share some aspects of the resurrection with the JWs but some of their unique concepts become apparent in this chapter.
Page 79: “The unrighteous” includes billions of people who did not have the opportunity to know Jehovah. Even though they died, Jehovah hasn’t forgotten them, and they will have the opportunity to learn about him and serve him. Comment: My understanding is that only some are resurrected, the faithful and unfaithful, representing those who have heard the gospel, whether they have responded or not, and whether they have been faithful to the gospel. There is no second chance for those who died without faith in the Gospel.

Page 79: “The Bible also tells us that some people will live in heaven. When someone is resurrected to heaven, he is not brought to life as human with a human body. He is resurrected to life in heaven as spirit person. … Jesus was not resurrected with a human body.” Comment: This is starting to introduce the JW concept of the 144,000, specifically mentioned on page 80. The JW view is also based upon the idea that the body of Jesus was not resurrected but preserved. Acts 2 clearly teaches that the tomb was empty, and this is because of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. I believe in the resurrection of the human body of the faithful, they will then be changed to immortal bodies and they will be upon the earth with Jesus when he returns.

Chapter 8: What is God’s Kingdom?
I share with JWs that there will be a Kingdom for 1000 years, but differ in many details.
Page 83: “We have learned that God’s name is Jehovah.” Comment: I suggest that Jehovah is an incorrect representation of YHWH. Yahweh is a better rendition, refer Rotherham’s introduction in his Bible translation.

Page 84: “Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus returned to heaven. Eventually, Jehovah appointed him as King of the Kingdom Acts 2:33. God’s government will rule over the earth from heaven Revelation 11:15.” Comment: The following two references give a different view to what the JWs deduct here.
Acts 2:36 (KJV): Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Revelation 5:9–10 (KJV): 9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Jesus was already appointed as both Lord and Christ and the faithful will reign on earth not from heaven.

Page 91: “For many years before 1914, a group of sincere Christians understood that it would be an important year in Bible prophecy. World events since 1914 have proved that they were correct. Jesus began to rule as King in that year.” Comment: This introduces the unique JW view that Jesus started to rule in 1914. The Bible teaches that Jesus will return to earth and then reign from Jerusalem for the 1000 years Acts 1:11, 3:19-21, Isaiah 2:1-4, Daniel 2:35,44, Zechariah 14.
 

TrevorL

Active member
I considered Chapters 1-4 of the JW book “What Can the Bible Teach Us?” in Post #1, Chapter 5 in Post #2 and Chapters 6-8 in Post #3. Again my initial focus will be to highlight the items which I find difficult and that I do not agree with.

Chapter 9: Is the end of the world near?
I would agree with the title and some aspects of the answer given in general. Yes, the end of the present era is near, because Jesus will soon return to replace the present kingdoms of men with the Kingdom of God.
Page 95: “In Chapter 8 we learned that Jesus became King in heaven in 1914 Daniel 7:13-14. The book of Revelation tells us what happened: “War broke out in heaven: Michael [meaning, Jesus] and his angels battled with the dragon [Satan] battled.” Satan and his demons lost the war and were thrown down to the earth.” Comment: Firstly, I am interested in the various time periods of Daniel and Revelation, both as to when they individually start and finish, and also what is represented by the time period and what particular event happens when this period ends. I believe that Jesus is yet to return and thus the JW view of 1914 is incorrect. Some of the termination dates are like milestones towards the Kingdom, not the start of the Kingdom. I believe that the “war” of Revelation 12 is depicting the war between the pagan Roman forces with the Apostate Christian forces of Constantine.

Chapter 10: The truth about the angels
Page 106: (Picture of Daniel in the lions’ den, depicting a large angel with very large wings). Comment: I do not believe that Angels have wings. They have appeared and were mistaken at first as men, and thus these were without wings. They can move by means of Holy Spirit power.

Page 108: “In Noah’s time some angels rebelled and left their home in heaven to live as humans on earth. Why? The Bible tells us they wanted to have wives Genesis 6:2. … [when the flood came:] … To survive those wicked angels returned to heaven. The Bible calls those wicked angels demons.” Comment: I consider that this embellishes the narrative even if you believe that these were fallen angels. My understanding of this is that it is talking about the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. The separation and godliness of Seth and his descendants was broken down when they started to intermarry with the descendants of Cain, and the appeal was the outward beauty of the women who were the descendants of Cain. Angels do not marry.

Chapter 11: Why so much suffering?
Page 117: “Jehovah never causes bad things to happen.” Comment: I disagree. God sends judgement upon the wicked. God raised Assyria and Babylon to judge and purify Israel and Judah.

Page 118: “Jehovah never causes suffering. He’s not to blame for war, crime and mistreatment. God does not cause disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and floods.” Comment: Similar to the above. God is in control of such disasters as earthquakes, hurricanes and floods and can and has used some of these to accomplish his purpose. God brought the flood in Noah’s time upon the earth.
 

TrevorL

Active member
The following is a brief consideration of the next four chapters of the JW book “What Can the Bible Teach Us?” Again my initial focus will be to highlight the items which I find difficult and that I do not agree with.

Chapter 12: How can you become God’s friend?
A large portion of this chapter from page 125 to 129 gives the impression our major problem is dealing with Satan. I remember my mother-in-law when a JW at the door spoke a lot about Satan or the Devil, my mother-in-law said: “I have enough problems in dealing with the devil within without worrying about the devil without.” I agree with her and believe that we have a real struggle with the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life.

Another feature throughout the whole book is the citation of a Biblical reference from the NWT. Some of these can be helpful, some give a slightly different perspective to my usual environment with the KJV and others seem strange. On Page 132 it uses “the old personality” and “the new personality” while the KJV has “the old man” and “the new man”. These have a slightly different range, and I prefer the KJV.

Chapter 13: Respect the gift of life
I agree with and endorse what is stated on Pages 135-139. Then on Pages 140-141 the subject of blood transfusion is considered and this is one of the unique JW teachings.
Page 104: “God’s faithful servants are determined to obey his law about blood. They will not eat or drink blood, and they will not accept blood for medical reasons.” Comment: I believe that the law concerning drinking blood does not apply to blood transfusions. The law was speaking about some form of pagan sacrifices.

Chapter 14: Your family can be happy
This chapter is Pages 145-153 and I agree with what is stated.

Chapter 15: The right way to worship God
I agree in concept with what is stated in this chapter, including some teachings that are different to many Protestant Churches, but one outcome is that they claim that the JWs are the true religion. Here is one example of this where it is almost stated:
Page 156: “So, as God’s servants we follow Jesus’ example. We worship only Jehovah, we use his name, and we teach others God’s name and what he will do for us.” Comment: This claim is based upon their use of the word “Jehovah”, and I believe that the Name of God is better rendered Yahweh, and it is not only speaking the Name, but what is the meaning of the Name. I do not believe that the JWs fully or correctly understand or teach the meaning of the Name.

Their claim that the JWs are the true religion is explicitly stated on pages 158-159, where there is a list of some of their teachings and practices are listed, and then the following is stated:
Page 158: “After studying these points, ask yourself: Who base their teachings on the Bible? Who tell others about God’s name? Who …? Who …? Who …? It is only Jehovah’s Witnesses Isaiah 43:10-12.” Comment: JWs do not fully base their beliefs on the Bible. They incorrectly use and teach the name “Jehovah”. The witnesses spoken of in Isaiah 43:10-12 was Israel, not the JWs.
 

TrevorL

Active member
The following is a brief consideration of the last four chapters of the JW book “What Can the Bible Teach Us?” mainly highlighting items that I disagree with.

Chapter 16: Choose to Worship God
Most of this chapter is satisfactory. I personally do not keep Christmas though I do not worry if some in my fellowship do keep this. I endorse the concept of having a family gathering. JWs also do not celebrate birthdays, but I find no problem with celebrating birthdays.

Chapter 17: The Privilege of Prayer
I endorse most of what is stated in this chapter.

Chapter 18: Should I Dedicate my Life to God and be Baptized
This chapter possibly does not give much detail. One feature is the introduction of one of the main JW functions, that of preaching and traditionally this has been door to door, but more recently they have been using book stands in shopping areas or public areas such as parks where there are pedestrians passing by.
Page 188: “Eventually, you will be able to begin preaching with the congregation. When you feel ready to do so, you can talk to the Witness who is teaching you the Bible and tell him or her that you would like to share in the preaching work with the congregation.” Comment: This seems to indicate that the individual is gradually inducted into preaching before they are baptised, and that this reflects the main purpose and activity of the JW movement.

Page 191: “After you have dedicated yourself to Jehovah, you are ready for the next step. You need to get baptized.” Comment: This possibly gives the impression that part of this dedication is a full induction to preaching before baptism. Also what is not clear is the level of faith and understanding before baptism, but it would include all of the unique JW teachings.

Chapter 19: Stay Close to Jehovah
I agree with much of this chapter, but again the following main function of the JW movement appears.
Page 201: “If we want to remain close to Jehovah, we also need to talk to others about our faith.”

Concluding comment: I hope that this review and comments on this book is sufficient to indicate that the JW faith and practice is not in conformity with the Bible teaching.
 

jamesh

Active member
JW Book: What Can the Bible Teach Us?

Towards the end of 2019 I obtained a small JW book “What Can the Bible Teach Us?” I spoke to two JW ladies who had a magazine and booklet stand. I raised the subject of the return of Jesus based on Acts 1:11 and Acts 3:19-21, and they raised the subject of the 144,000 and a few other topics. The book is similar to an earlier book that I had received some years ago “What Does the Bible Really Teach?” The new book is basically a revision of the old, with similar chapter titles, while the new has endnotes replacing different appendix notes in the old.

In general I agree with much of what is stated, but some JW ideas are introduced without any Biblical support, and these ideas simply reflect the environment and teaching of the JWs. I invite discussion on the following brief comments and the JW view.

Chapter 1: Who is God?
Page 12: “God has told us that his name is Jehovah.” Comment: It is generally recognised that YHWH is better understood as Yahweh. Please consider Rotherham’s introduction. I agree with the future tense.
Page 17: “God wants us to have the best life possible.” Comment: This is true ultimately, but God subjects us to many circumstances now to develop us and some of these trials can be very difficult.

Chapter 2 The Bible – A Book from God
Page 22: “In Matthew chapters 5 to 7, we read very good advice that Jesus gave on how to be happy …”. Comment: Similar to the previous comment. Jesus speaks about being blessed, especially in the future.

Chapter 3 What is God’s Purpose for Humans?
Page 30: “Satan .. made it look as though the snake was talking.” Comment: The Bible states that the serpent was discerning and spoke Genesis 3:1.
Page 38: “We die because we inherited sin from Adam.” Comment: We do not inherit sin, but we inherit the effects of sin.

Chapter 4 Who is Jesus Christ?
Page 40 Endnote 12: “God created Jesus before everything else.” Comment: I do not accept this as I believe that Jesus did not pre-exist his conception and birth.
Page 51: “Luke 1:30-35 Jehovah sent Jesus to the earth.” Comment: Luke 1:30-35 speaks about the conception and anticipated birth of Jesus. God was his father through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Hi Trevor! I read all your post in this thread of yours and would like to comment on what you said here in your first post.

"Chapter 4 Who is Jesus Christ?
Page 40 Endnote 12: “God created Jesus before everything else.” Comment: I do not accept this as I believe that Jesus did not pre-exist his conception and birth."

You sound like your an openminded guy so what if the Lord was to convince you that Jesus Christ did pre-exist His incarnation/His birth?

It says at Genesis 22:1, "Now it came about after these things, (what things?) that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." Genesis 22 is about Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac. At Genesis 22:10, "And Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to slay his son."

Verse 11, "But the angle of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said here I am." Verse 12, "And he said, Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me." At verse 13-14 God provided Abraham with a ram and offered it up to God. Verse 14, "Abraham called the place, "The Lord will provide."

Verse 15, "Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, vs16, and said, "By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, vs17, indeed I will greatly bless your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their descendants."

Verse 18, "And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice." The whole point of all these verses is to show that the angel of the Lord is God--the pre-existence of Jesus Christ. Some questions arise, for example, why does the angel of the Lord call out from heaven two times when God Himself calls out from heaven at Exodus 20:22 or at Deuteronomy 4:36?

Also at Hebrews 6:13-14 states, "For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, HE SWORE BY HIMSELF, vs14, "saying, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply you." For one thing Jesus Christ as the angel of the Lord is not an actual angel named Michael as the JW's teach. I will be happy to address any questions you may have or anybody else may have.

In Him,
herman
 

TrevorL

Active member
Greetings herman,
The whole point of all these verses is to show that the angel of the Lord is God--the pre-existence of Jesus Christ.
I appreciate your response and perspective. The Angel of the LORD is a messenger and speaks on behalf of God. Another example is where Moses first encounters the Angel at the bush. The prophets also sometimes alternate between speaking directly themselves to encourage or denounce, and other times saying "Thus saith the LORD", and sometimes giving a message as if God Himself is speaking directly, almost equivalent to God speaking directly from heaven, but through the lips of the prophet Hebrews 1:1. We at first find this unusual, and in English we would expect the Angel or prophet to always preface what he is saying with "Thus saith the LORD". To some extent this prepares the way for another unique revelation, where Jesus says "But I say unto you" in Matthew 5-7 and elsewhere.

Kind regards
Trevor
 

jamesh

Active member
Greetings herman,

I appreciate your response and perspective. The Angel of the LORD is a messenger and speaks on behalf of God. Another example is where Moses first encounters the Angel at the bush. The prophets also sometimes alternate between speaking directly themselves to encourage or denounce, and other times saying "Thus saith the LORD", and sometimes giving a message as if God Himself is speaking directly, almost equivalent to God speaking directly from heaven, but through the lips of the prophet Hebrews 1:1. We at first find this unusual, and in English we would expect the Angel or prophet to always preface what he is saying with "Thus saith the LORD". To some extent this prepares the way for another unique revelation, where Jesus says "But I say unto you" in Matthew 5-7 and elsewhere.

Kind regards
Trevor
The Hebrew word for "angel" is "malak." It does mean messenger and it can refer to an actual angel or even to men depending on the context. Malachi 3:1, "Behold, I am going to send My "malak/angel/messenger," and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the "malak/angel/messenger" of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says the Lord of hosts."

In this verse the messenger sent is John the Baptist and he ain't no angel. Read Mark 1:1-4. And who do you think is the "messenger" of the covenant is who is coming to His temple? What you do not realize is the fact that "IF" the angel of the Lord is not the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ then you have no choice to believe that the angel of the Lord is an actual angel.

This cannot be, and in fact it's impossible for the angel of the Lord to be an actual angel. Why! Because angels cannot swear oaths on behalf of God Himself. This is what the text itself says not only at Genesis 22:16 but at Hebrews 6:13-14. Genesis 22:16, "By Myself I have sworn." Hebrews 6:13, "For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear BY NO ONE GREATER, HE SWORE BY HIMSELF." Angels are not greater than God Himself, period.

Moreover, Revelation 10:5-6, "And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, vs6, and swore BY HIM/GOD who lives forever and ever etc. Again, angels cannot swear on behalf of God. Another thing to consider is that the angel of the Lord who first appears as the angel of the Lord at Genesis 16:7 says to Hagar the following at vs9. "Then the angel of the Lord said to her, Return to your mistress/Sarah, and submit yourself to her. Vs10, "Moreover, the angel of the Lord said to her, "I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they shall be too many to count."

Hagar says at vs13, "The she called the name of the Ord who spoke to her, "Thou art a God who sees"; for she said, "Have I even remained alive here AFTER SEEING HIM." Now, look at Genesis 17:1-2, "Now when Abram was nonety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abraham and said to him, " I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless, vs2, And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly?"

The question for you is this? Is the being who multiplied Hagar's descendants the same being who multiplied Abraham's descendants at Genesis 17:1-2? I say yes for a number of reasons. One of which is that angels cannot multiply descendants, only God can do that. Secondly, why would God use an angel to multiply Hagar's descendants when He clearly multiplied Abraham's descendants? According to the Jewish library a "shaliach/agent" on behalf of God have limited power and they "CANNOT" swear oaths on behalf of God or for anyone else for that matter. To be continued.

In Him,
herman
 

TrevorL

Active member
Greetings again herman,
This cannot be, and in fact it's impossible for the angel of the Lord to be an actual angel. Why! Because angels cannot swear oaths on behalf of God Himself.
I suggest that the Angel speaks God's words directly as if God Himself is speaking, refer Exodus 3:1-14. He is a or the Messenger speaking a Message. Compare a telegram boy reading a telegram message. The only other aspect is that the Angels also made decisions, because God gave them that ability and authority. You have the other problem that man cannot look upon God and therefore the Angel cannot be God. We could discuss the Trinity or pre-existence at length, but possibly elsewhere as this is not the purpose of this thread. Trinitarians are desperate to find the Trinity in the OT but it is not there. There is One God, Yahweh, God the Father. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God, born of Mary, of complete character full of grace and truth, and now raised to glory and immortality, a human exalted. I have written an introduction to the OT revelation of God in the Christadelphian sub-forum called "The Yahweh Name". To cover the subject I also need to add a thread on the other word used for God in the OT "Elohim" and I suggest we could start with Genesis 1:26 where the One God, Yahweh, God the Father invites the Angels to participate in the creation of man in the image and after the likeness of God and the Angels. But I suggest that this should be discussed either in the Trinity sub-forum or the Christadelphian sub-forum. I will let you start a thread, say on Genesis 1:26, or other title, possibly on the meaning of the word "Elohim" in the OT and also refer to John 10:30-36.

Kind regards
Trevor
 
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