Par. 2 – Question: Can anyone out there prove that there were only 11 disciples present when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Evening Meal? I would really like to know one way or the other.
Par. 14 – Introduces the idea that Jesus released his anointed followers from captivity to false religion in 1919. I’m sure if the thousands of anointed followers who lived through that year could be brought back to life, they’d be scratching their heads in wonder at this statement. They all believed they had left false religion upon their baptism. They certainly didn’t see themselves as “in false religion” in 1919 or any year before that, for that matter. Rather than being in captivity, they had for years engaged in vigorous preaching campaigns to unmask the falsehood of the churches. I’m confident they would be offended by the thought they were still in captivity to false religion. As for the significance of 1919, no scripture is provided to support its significance. We’ll just have to accept it as an article of faith in the teachings of men.
Paragraph 14 also speaks about the unity Jesus called for in his prayer, being manifest in the two flocks becoming one. If a shepherd has a flock, he takes it to a pen. One flock; one pen. We speak about the two flocks becoming one, but they don’t end up in the same pen. They have two very distinct destinations.
Is that the type of unity Jesus was referring to? Let’s see:
(John 17:22) “Also, I have given them the glory that you have given me, in order that they may be one just as we are one.”
Is the glory Jesus was given and the glory he imparted to his anointed followers the same glory the other sheep have? (I’m using “other sheep” here and below in the official JW context.)
(John 17:23) “I in union with them and you in union with me, in order that they may be perfected into one…”
Jesus was made perfect by the things he suffered. (Heb. 5:8,9) His followers are made perfect (complete) by undergoing suffering. Paul clarifies this by saying that we are united with him in the likeness of this death and his resurrection. Yet this is not the case for the other sheep who are not made perfect at the same time nor in the same way that the anointed and Jesus are. Believing as we do about the other sheep not achieving perfection until the end of the thousand years along with the many unrighteous who are resurrected, how can we apply Jesus’ words about being “in union with him and perfected into one”?
(John 17:24) Father, as to what you have given me, I wish that, where I am, they also may be with me, in order to behold my glory that you have given me, because you loved me before the founding of the world.
It is very difficult to see how our teaching of the other sheep can be made to fit with Jesus’ desire for them to be with him and see the glory he has had since the founding of the world. The fact is, it can’t and paragraph 15 makes no attempt to do so, but applies it only to the anointed. Now, you would think that this is a contradiction to what we’ve just been taught in paragraph 14, that the union Jesus speaks of applies to both his “little flock” and the “other sheep”. It is clear that vs. 24 is all part of the “united as one” equation. So how can we say it applies to the other sheep while simultaneously stating that it doesn’t apply to the other sheep. There’s a nifty little bit of double-speak in the closing sentence of paragraph 15: “This causes rejoicing, not envy, on the part of Jesus’ other sheep and is further proof of the unity that exists among all true Christians on earth today.”
Overlooked is the fact that Jesus wasn’t talking about unity with each other, but of unity with him and his Father; a unity whose definition is nicely laid out (and by us, ignored) in vs. 22 to 24.