[A Review of the September 15, 2014 Watchtower article on page 23]
“The last enemy death brought to nothing.” – 1 Cor. 15:26
There is an interesting revelation in this week’s Watchtower study article which will likely be missed by the millions of Witnesses participating in the meeting. Paragraph 15, quoting from 1 Cor. 15:22-26 reads:
“By the end of the thousand years of Kingdom rule, obedient mankind will have been liberated from all enemies introduced by Adam’s disobedience. The Bible says: “Just as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive. But each one in his own proper order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who belong to the Christ [his joint rulers] during his presence. Next, the end, when he hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father, when he has brought to nothing all government and all authority and power. And the last enemy, death , is brought to nothing.”
All are made alive in the Christ, but “each one in his own proper order”.
- First: Christ, the firstfruits
- Second: Those belonging to him
- Third: Everybody else
Now those belonging to him are made alive during his presence. We have already proven that didn’t happen in 1914. The resurrection of those belonging to him has not yet occurred. It will happen just before Armageddon. (Mt. 24:31) They are made alive by being granted immortality and freed for all time from the second death. Theirs is the first resurrection. (Re 2:11; 20:6)
The Bible speaks of two resurrections: one for the righteous and one for the unrighteous; a first resurrection and a second one. No mention is made of a third. (Acts 24:15)
Jesus showed that his anointed followers would be in the first, the resurrection of the righteous.
“. . .But when you spread a feast, invite poor people, crippled, lame, blind; 14 and you will be happy, because they have nothing with which to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous ones.”” (Lu 14:13, 14)
This creates a conundrum for our JW theology, because we have eight million “other sheep” who we say are righteous friends—not sons—of God. Many have died and await a resurrection. Since the Bible only speaks of two resurrections and we’re saddled with three groups, we are forced to divide the resurrection of the righteous in two. The first—call it the Resurrection of the Righteous 1.1—go to heaven. The second—the Resurrection of the Righteous 1.2—go to earth. Problem solved!
Paul clearly states that those who do not go to heaven to be with Christ are made alive only at the end of the thousand years. This fits with Revelation 20:4-6 which also contrasts those who rule in heaven with the rest who are only made alive when the thousand years are ended.
This creates a real problem for us. Two weeks ago we studied how the reward “for the “other sheep” [is] everlasting life on earth.” (w14 15/09 p. 13 par. 6) But it isn’t, is it? Not really. Actually, when you look at it objectively, the other sheep get no reward at all.
According to paragraph 13, “The majority of Adam’s offspring will be brought back to life.” According to paragraph 14, those of the first resurrection in heaven “will provide assistance to those on earth, helping them to overcome the imperfection that they could not conquer on their own.” (Par. 14)[A]
Let’s illustrate this from a real life experience. Both Harold King (anointed) and Stanley Jones (Other Sheep) endured the tribulation of years of solitary confinement in a Chinese prison. Eventually, both died. Based on our teaching, King is already in heaven with immortality. Stanley will come back in the new world and have to work shoulder to shoulder with the unrighteous and ungodly who are resurrected until both he and they “overcome the imperfection they could not conquer on their own” after a thousand years of slogging in out.
So how does our brother Stanley get a reward that differs from that accorded to, say, Attila the Hun? Are they not both resurrected to the same eventuality? Do they not both have equal prospects? Is a good head start the only reward poor Stanley gets over Attila? Of what value then faith?
We are told:
“. . .Moreover, without faith it is impossible to please God well, for whoever approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Heb 11:6)
It is vital to believe that Jehovah becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him. We have to believe that God is just and that he keeps his promises. Paul alludes to this when he says:
“If like other men, I have fought with wild beasts at Eph′e·sus, of what good is it to me? If the dead are not to be raised up, “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.”” (1Co 15:32)
If God isn’t the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him, then what are we enduring for? To illustrate, let’s paraphrase Paul’s words.
“. . .If like other men, I have fought with wild beasts at Eph′e·sus, of what good is it to me? If the dead are to be raised up righteous and unrighteous equally, “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.””
The Denarius and a Day’s Work
In Jesus’ illustration of the denarius, some workers labored the whole day while others for only one hour, yet all got the same reward. (Mt 20:1-16) Some thought that was unjust, but it was not, for they all got what they were promised.
However, our theology requires that all work the same amount, but some get a wondrous reward, while the rest, the majority, get no reward—for the “reward” they do get is also given to everyone who didn’t work at all. To change Jesus’ illustration to fit our theology, a few workers get the denarius, but the majority get a contract that stipulates if they work an additional two weeks and if the master likes their work, they get the originally promised denarius. Oh, and everyone who didn’t work at all on that day, also gets the same contract.
Our Hellfire Doctrine
We have argued that the doctrine of Hellfire dishonors Jehovah; and so it does! A God who would torture people for all eternity for a brief lifetime of sin, or even a single sin, cannot be just. But is not our dual-hope teaching also a God-dishonoring doctrine? This is our very own Hellfire doctrine?
If Jehovah doesn’t reward those who are faithful in a world of ungodly men, then he is unjust and cruel. If the same reward given to those who labor out of faith in the hot sun of oppression and persecution is also given to those who disobey God and live a life of licentiousness, then God is unjust.
Since Jehovah can never be unjust, it is our teaching that must be false.
“Let God be found true, even if every man be found a liar.” – Romans 3:4
[A] This statement creates a paradox, for if the resurrected earthly righteous ones also need help to overcome imperfection that they could not conquer on their own, how is it that the resurrected heavenly righteous ones never needed such help? They are resurrected and transformed into incorruptible beings immediately. Those alive at the end are transformed in the twinkling of an eye. What is so special about those righteous ones destined for heaven that distinguishes them from earthbound righteous ones?