A seemingly minor change in the doctrinal thinking of Jehovah’s Witnesses was introduced at this year’s annual meeting. The speaker, Brother David Splane of the Governing Body, noted that for some time now our publications have not engaged in the use of type/antitype relationships. He emphasized that we should only use those type/antitype relationships which Jehovah himself has put in place and which are explicitly named in Scripture. He explained that others, like Puritans, Baptists, and Congregationalists found the study of typology to be thrilling so it was no wonder that the early Bible students felt the same. He spoke of our use of the “pyramid of Egypt” which we called “the Bible in stone” in explaining the “ages of mankind”. Then to show the proper attitude we should now have, he spoke of one early Bible Student, Arch W. Smith, who made a hobby out of studying the dimensions of the pyramid to draw antitypical parallels. However, in 1928, when The Watchtower dropped the use of the “a pyramid built by pagans” as a type, brother Smith complied. “He let reason win out over emotion.” (Let us file those words away for now, as they will be our guide soon.)
In summing up our new position on the use of types and antitypes, David Splane stated at the 2014 Annual Meeting Program:
“Who is to decide if a person or an event is a type if the word of God doesn’t say anything about it? Who is qualified to do that? Our answer? We can do no better than to quote our beloved brother Albert Schroeder who said, “We need to exercise great care when applying accounts in the Hebrew Scriptures as prophetic patterns or types if these accounts are not applied in the Scriptures themselves.” Wasn’t that a beautiful statement? We agree with it.” (See 2:13 mark of video)
Then, around the 2:18 mark, Splane gives the example of one brother Arch W. Smith who loved the belief we once held in the significance of pyramids. However, then the 1928 Watchtower nullified that doctrine, he accepted the change because, to quote Splane, “he let reason win out over emotion.” Splane then continues to say, “In recent times, the trend in our publications has been to look for the practical application of events and not for types where the Scriptures themselves do not clearly identify them as such. We simply cannot go beyond what is written.”
Many of us older ones upon hearing this surely let go a great sigh of relief. We will recall some of the crazier types and antitypes—like Rachel’s ten camels representing the Word of God, and Samson’s dead lion representing Protestantism—and think, ‘At last we’re starting to rise above all that silliness.’ (w89 7/1 p. 27 par. 17; w67 2/15 p. 107 par. 11)
Unfortunately, what very few will have realized is that there are some stunning unintended consequences to this new position. What the Governing Body has done with this reversal is to knock the pins out from under the core doctrine of our faith: the salvation of the other sheep.
It would seem that the Governing Body members themselves are unaware of this development if we are to go by the fact that Brother Splane made repeated references to the other sheep in his discourse, without reflecting the tiniest hint of irony. It is as if he himself is ignorant of the fact that our entire doctrine of the other sheep and the earthly hope for faithful Christians is entirely and exclusively built on a multiple set of type-antitype relationships which are not found in the Scriptures themselves. The evidence which will be revealed in the rest of this article will show that we have done exactly what David Splane said we should not do. We have most definitely “gone beyond what is written”.
This statement will likely be rejected out of hand by most Witnesses reading this for the first time. If you are one of them, I ask only that you give us the opportunity to prove this statement is based on facts borne out in our own publications.
As we’ve often been taught, the doctrine of the other sheep was first introduced in the mid-1930s by J. F. Rutherford. However, very few of us have ever read the articles in question. So let us do that now. It is worth our time, for this is a major teaching; indeed, it is a salvation issue.[i]
His Kindness, Part 1 – The Watchtower , August 1, 1934
Rutherford introduces this controversial idea by spanning two issues with a two-part article innocuously titled, “His Kindness”.
“Christ Jesus, the Vindicator, will destroy the wicked; but the kindness of Jehovah has provided a place of refuge for those who now turn their hearts toward righteousness, seeking to join themselves unto Jehovah’s organization. Such are known as the Jonadab class, because Jonadab foreshadowed them.” (w34 8/1 p. 228 par. 3)
Notice first that this place of refuge isn’t for the anointed, but for a secondary class known as “the Jonadabs”.
“This loving provision made by Jehovah being announced at the time of making of the covenant of faithfulness shows that the cities of refuge foreshadow God’s loving-kindness for the protection of the people of good will during Armageddon…” (w34 8/1 p. 228 par. 4)
“God having now made known to his people that the word spoken by him, as recorded in Deuteronomy, applies since the coming of Christ Jesus to the temple, [circa 1918][ii] we may expect to find that the provision for the cities of refuge, as set down in the prophecies, have an antitypical fulfilment in close proximity to the time of taking the faithful followers of Christ Jesus into the covenant for the kingdom.” (w34 8/1 p. 228 par. 5)
One is left to wonder how “God…made known to his people” this antitypical relationship. Rutherford didn’t believe that the holy spirit was being used to reveal truths, but that Jehovah, since 1918, was using angels to speak to his congregation.[iii]
We can excuse Rutherford’s slip that the cities of refuge were set down in prophecies. They were a legal provision, but are never mentioned in any Bible prophecy. Still, we now have a second antitypical fulfillment. First, the Jonadab class, and now the antitypical cities of refuge.
“The setting up of the cities of refuge was notice to those who should have need therefor that God had made provision for their protection and refuge in time of distress. That was a part of the prophecy, and, being a prophecy, it must have its fulfilment at some later day and at the coming of the Greater Moses.” (w34 8/1 p. 228 par. 7)
What a wonderful example of circular reasoning this presents! The cities of refuge were prophetic because they have a prophetic application, which we know because they were prophetic. Rutherford then goes on without breaking stride to say in the very next sentence:
“On the 24th day of February, A.D. 1918, by the Lord’s grace and manifestly by his overruling providence and his direction, there was delivered, at Los Angeles, for the first time the message “The World has Ended—Millions Now Living Will Never Die”, and thereafter that message was proclaimed by word of mouth and by printed publication throughout “Christendom”. No one of God’s people understood fully the matter at that time; but since being brought into the temple they see and understand that those on the earth who may live and not die are the ones who now ‘get into the chariot’, as Jonadab at the invitation of Jehu got into the chariot with Jehu.” (w34 8/1 p. 228 par. 7)
One can’t help but be amazed at the unmitigated gall of the man to take one of his greatest humiliations and turn it into a triumph. The 1918 speech he is referring to as being delivered by the ‘manifest direction’ of God was arguably his greatest failure. It was built on the premise that 1925 would see the resurrection of the ancient worthies—men like King David, Moses, and Abraham—and the start of Armageddon. Now, almost a decade after the 1925 fiasco, he is still spouting the dictum as coming from God. Yet we know that the millions living in 1918 are gone. Even Rutherford’s attempt here to bring forward the starting date from 1918 to 1934 is a manifest failure in the light of history. The millions then living have died.
Paragraph 8 is the show-me-the-money moment, but Rutherford doesn’t limit his call for funds to the faithful.
“Jehovah’s commandment was that there should be given to the Levites forty-eight cities and suburbs. This shows that the peoples of “Christendom” have no right to crowd Jehovah’s servants, and particularly his anointed witnesses, out of the land, but must allow them freedom of activity and a reasonable amount for their maintenance. This also supports the conclusion that those who obtain literature…should contribute something to defray the expense of publication…” (w34 8/1 p. 228 par. 8)
The conclusion that the members of Christendom’s churches “must allow a reasonable amount” for the maintenance of the JW priestly class may seem gutsy to some, but it also suggests a troubling disconnect with reality. It also exposes a common danger with contrived typical-antitypical relationships: Where does one stop? If there is a real relationship between A and B, then why not between B and C. And if C, then why not D, and on and on ad absurdum. This is precisely what Rutherford proceeds to do in the following paragraphs.
In paragraph 9 we are told that there were six cities of refuge. Since six symbolized imperfection, that number here represents “God’s provision for refuge while imperfect conditions still exist on the earth.”
Then in paragraph 11, we are told why the Israelite cities of refuge represent the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“These cities of protection symbolized the organization of those who are wholly devoted to God and his temple service. There was no other place that the manslayer could find refuge or safety. This is strong proof that the Jonadab class who seek refuge against the day of vengeance must find it only in Jehu’s chariot, that is to say , in the organization of Jehovah, of which organization Christ Jesus is the Head and great High Priest.” (w34 8/1 p. 229 par. 11)
Jonadab never used a city of refuge, but the Jonadab class does need them. Jonadab climbed into Jehu’s chariot at his invitation, not because he was a manslayer. So Jehu’s chariot is a type for the antitypical Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Jonadab class, however, does double duty as both the antitypical Jonadab and the antitypical manslayer. All of this Scripturally unsupported supposition is strong proof?!
“The cities of refuge would be set up after the Israelites reached Canaan…This would seem to correspond to the time when the Elisha-Jehu work begins….In 1918 Jesus brought his faithful remnant then on earth across the antitypical Jordan river and into the “land”, or kingdom condition…The priest bearing the ark of the covenant were the first ones to enter the waters of the Jordan, and stood firm on the dry ground in the river until the people had crossed. (Josh. 3:7, 8, 15, 17) Before the Israelites crossed the Jordan river Moses, by the direction of Jehovah, appointed three cities of refuge on the east side of the river. Likewise also before the remnant were gathered into the temple the Lord caused to be delivered his message “Millions Now Living Will Never Die”, meaning, of course, that they must be subject to the conditions announced by the Lord. There also began an announcement that the Elijah work had ended. It was a period of transition from the Elijah to the Elisha work performed by the faithful followers of Christ Jesus.” (w34 8/1 p. 229 par. 12)
There is a virtual legion of antitypes in this one paragraph. We have an antitypical Elijah work ending; and antitypical Elisha work beginning concurrent with an antitypical Jehu work. There is also an antitypical Jordan river and an antitype to the priests carrying the ark and pausing in the river to dry it up. There is something antitypical about the three cities of refuge on the east side of the river as opposed to the other three on the west side. Some of this ties in with the antitype which became the “Millions Now Living Will Never Die” message.
It might be good to pause for a moment at this juncture and reconsider Brother Splane’s warning that we should not accept types and antitypes “where the scriptures themselves do not clearly identify them as such. We simply cannot go beyond what is written.” That is precisely what Rutherford is doing here.
Getting to the Heart of the Matter
From paragraph 13 thru 16, Rutherford starts to make his main point. The ones who fled to the cities of refuge were unwitting manslayers. They fled to escape the wrath of the avenger of blood—usually a close relative of the deceased who had the legal right to kill the manslayer outside of the city of refuge. In the modern day those who are unwitting manslayers are those who have supported the political and religious elements of the earth in their bloodletting.
“Among both the Jews and “Christendom” there have been those who have had no sympathy with such wrongdoing, yet by reason of circumstances have been forced into participating in and supporting these wrongdoers, to some degree at least, and are thus of the class that unwittingly or unawares are guilty of shedding blood.” (w34 8/1 p. 229 par. 15)
These unwitting manslayers must have an antitypical means of escape corresponding to the cities of refuge in Israel, and “Jehovah in his loving-kindness has made just such a provision as is needed for their escape.” (w34 8/1 p. 229 par. 16)
Of course, if there is an antitypical manslayer in need of an antitypical city of refuge, there must also be an antitypical “avenger”. Paragraph 18 opens with the words: “Who is “the avenger”, or the one who executes vengeance antitypically upon such wrongdoers?” Paragraph 19 answers: “The great kinsman of the human race by birth is Jesus…hence he was the kinsman of the Israelites.” Paragraph 20 adds: “Jesus Christ, the great Executioner, will certainly meet or overtake all the bloodguilty ones at Armageddon and will slay all such as are not in the cities of refuge.” Then paragraph 21 nails down the lid on what are the antitypical cities of refuges by saying, “Those…who would now escape to the city of refuge, must hasten thereto. They must get away from the Devil’s organization and take their place with the Lord God’s organization and remain there.”
(If, at this point, you’re recalling Paul’s words at Hebrews 2:3 and 5:9 and saying, “I thought Jesus was God’s loving provision for escape and salvation”…well…you’re obviously just not following. Please try to keep up.)
In an article which points not to Jesus, but to a religious organization as the means for mankind’s salvation, there may well be a rare and definitely ironic moment of prophetic insight at the end of paragraph 23: “The plain declaration of the Lord is that “organized religion”, which has so greatly defamed this name, and those therein who have participated in the persecution of his faithful people and have defamed God’s name, shall be destroyed without mercy.”
A Distinction Is Made
Paragraph 29 makes a clear distinction between two classes of Christians each expecting a different form of salvation.
“It does not appear from the Scriptures that the cities of refuge have any reference to those who become members of the body of Christ. There does not seem to be any reason why they should. There is a wide distinction between such and those who become of the class known as the ‘millions that will not die’, meaning those people of good will who obey the Lord God now but who are not accepted as a part of the sacrifice of Christ Jesus.” (w34 8/1 p. 233 par. 29)
While the claim that this “wide distinction” between the “body of Christ” and “people of good will” is Scriptural, the careful reader will note that no Scriptures are provided as support.[iv]
In the final paragraph of the study, it is reasoned—again, without any Scriptural support whatsoever—that there is a correspondence or a typical-antitypical relationship at work. The typical part was the order of things in that first the covenant at Mount Horeb was put in place, then years later when the Israelites settled in the land of Canaan, the cities of refuge were set up. The antitypical part was the completion of all members making up the new covenant which began when Jesus came to his temple in 1918. This method of salvation ended, and then the antitypical cities of refuge was put in place. The latter is the provision for the unanointed people of good will—the Jonadab class—to be saved from the avenger, Christ. The reason they are called Jonadabs is that the original Jonadab was a non-Israelite, (an unanointed Christian) but was invited into the chariot (Jehovah’s Organization) driven by Jehu, an Israelite (an anointed Christian aka spiritual Israelite) to work with him.
His Kindness, Part 2 – The Watchtower , August 15, 1934
This article extends the cities of refuge antitype into our current doctrine with two distinct salvation hopes, one heavenly and one earthly.
“Jesus Christ is God’s provided way of life, but not all men who get life will become spirit creatures. There are other sheep which are not of the “little flock”. (w34 8/15 p. 243 par. 1)
While the first class with a heavenly hope is saved by the blood of Jesus, the second class is saved by joining an organization or a specific denomination of “organized religion”, Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“The antitype of the cities of refuge is Jehovah’s organization, and he has made provision for the protection of those who place themselves fully on the side of his organization….” (w34 8/15 p. 243 par. 3)
The typical-antitypical parallels continue to abound in this second article. For example,
“It was the duty of the Levites in the cities of refuge to give information, aid and comfort to those seeking refuge. Likewise it is the duty of the antitypical Levites [anointed Christians] to give information, aid and comfort to those who now seek the Lord’s organization.” (w34 8/15 p. 244 par. 5)
Then drawing yet another typical-antitypical parallel, Ezekiel 9:6 and Zephaniah 2:3 are invoked paralleling the “mark in the forehead” with the anointed “giving them [the Jonadabs] intelligent information….” Similar parallels are drawn in paragraph 8 between Deut. 19:3; Joshua 20:3,9 and Isaiah 62:10 to show that that “the priestly class, meaning the anointed remnant now on earth, must minister unto the people…the Jonadabs”
Astoundingly, typical-antitypical parallels are even drawn from the ten plagues.
“In antitypical fulfillment of what happened in Egypt notice and warning to the rulers of the world have already been given. Nine of the plagues have been antitypically fulfilled, and now, before the falling of the vengeance of God upon the firstborn and upon the whole world, foreshadowed by the tenth plague, the people must have instructions and warning. Such is the present work of Jehovah’s witnesses.” (w34 8/15 p. 244 par. 9)
Paragraph 11 illustrates the major problem that arises when men take it upon themselves to create a prophetic parallel where none was intended, i.e., some parts just don’t fit.
“If the decision was that the slaying was without malice and was accidental or unwittingly committed, then the slayer should find protection in the city of refuge and must remain there until the death of the high priest.” (w34 8/15 p. 245 par. 11)
This simply doesn’t fit antitypically. The evildoer hanged next to Jesus did not kill accidentally nor unwittingly, yet he was still forgiven. This application of Rutherford’s only allows for unwitting sinners to enter, but we have the example of King David whose adultery and subsequent murder conspiracy were anything but unwitting, yet he too was forgiven. Jesus makes no distinction between degrees or types of sin. What matters to him is a broken heart and sincere repentance. This simply does not fit with the cities of refuge parallel which is why he never mentioned them as having any part with the Good News of Salvation.
But things get even worse in paragraph 11.
“At the death of the high priest the slayer might return with safety to his own place of residence. This would clearly seem to teach that the Jonadab class [aka the other sheep], having sought and found refuge with God’s organization, must remain in the chariot or organization of the Lord with the Greater Jehu, and must continue in heart sympathy and harmony with the Lord and his organization and must prove their proper heart condition by cooperating with Jehovah’s witnesses until the office of the high priest class yet on the earth be finished.” (w34 8/15 p. 245 par. 11)
This point is important enough that the author reiterates it in paragraph 17:
“Such [Jonadabs/other sheep] do not come with the provisions of the new covenant, and life cannot be granted to them until the last member of the priestly class has finished his earthly course. “The death of the high priest” means the change of the last members of the royal priesthood from human to spirit organism, which follows Armageddon.” (w34 8/15 p. 246 par. 17)
Jesus is referred to in the Bible as our high priest. (Hebrews 2:17) Nowhere do we find anointed Christians referred to as a high priest class, especially while on the earth. When our high priest died, he opened the way for our salvation. However, Rutherford has a different idea for the salvation of the other sheep or Jonadab class. He is here creating a super-clergy class. This isn’t your typical clergy a la Catholic church. No! This clergy is charged with your salvation. Only when they—not Jesus—have all passed away can the other sheep be saved, provided of course that the other sheep have remained in the antitypical city of refuge, the organized religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Here we encounter another problem with made-up prophetic antitype: The need to bend Scripture to make it work. Even if it were true that the salvation of the other sheep is only achieved when the last of the anointed Christians dies, there is a sequence problem, for their salvation comes by surviving Armageddon. Matthew 24:31 clearly indicates that the Jesus sends forth his angels to gather his chosen ones before Armageddon. In fact, Armageddon is not even mentioned in Matthew 24, only the signs and events preceding it, the last of which is the resurrection of the righteous. Paul tells the Thessalonians that those alive at the end will be transformed and taken up “together with them”. (1 Th 4:17) There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that some of Christ’s brothers will survive Armageddon to be taken up only then. However, this Scriptural fact is very inconvenient to Rutherford’s agenda since it means that the need to stay inside the organization, the antitypical city of refuge, will end before Armageddon. How can the organization save us from Armageddon if the need to stay in it evaporates prior to Armageddon? That just won’t do, so Rutherford has to reinterpret Scripture to say that some anointed aren’t taken up until afterward so as to make his heavily contrived prophetic parallel work.
This agenda is very evident in paragraph 15.
“If after receiving these good things from the hand of the Lord any man is found exercising too much personal liberty, that is to say, not keeping with the bounds of Jehovah’s merciful provision made for him at the present time; not taking into consideration that he does not yet possess the right to life [as the priestly class do]…he loses the protection which Jehovah has provided for him. He must continue to appreciate the certainty and nearness of Armageddon [Remember, this was written 80 years ago.]…and also the fact that soon the priestly class [another unscriptural term] will pass from the earth….” (w34 8/15 p. 245 par. 15)
“Christ, the great [antitypical] Avenger and Executioner, will not spare any of the Jonadab company that get outside of Jehovah’s safety arrangement made for them in connection with his organization.” (w34 8/15 p. 246 par. 18)
Rutherford’s quiver of type/antitype pairings is not yet empty. Continuing in paragraph 18, he draws next on the account of Solomon and Shimei. Solomon required Shimei to remain in the city of refuge for his sins against Solomon’s father, David, or suffer death. Shimei disobeyed and was killed at Solomon’s order. The antitype is Jesus, as the greater Solomon, and any of the Jonadab class who “now venture outside of their own haven of refuge” and “run ahead of Jehovah” are the antitypical Shimei.
When Does the Antitypical City of Refuge Start?
The typical cities of refuge only came into being when the Israelites settled in the promised land. The antitypical promised land is the paradise to come, but that hardly works for Rutherford’s purpose. Therefore, other timelines have to shift.
“Therefore it is after 1914, at which time God enthroned the great King and sent him forth to rule. It is then that the holy city, the new Jerusalem, which is Jehovah God’s organization, descends out of heaven. It is that holy city which is the abiding place of Jehovah. (Ps 132:13) The time is when “the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God”. (Rev. 21:2,3)…The prophetic picture of the city of refuge could have no applications prior to the beginning of the reign of Christ in 1914.” (w34 8/15 p. 248 par. 19)
So the tent of God depicted in Revelation 21:2,3 has been with us for the past hundred years. It would appear that the whole “mourning, outcry, pain, and death will be no more” thing has been on backorder for some time.
The Other Sheep Identified
If any doubt remains as to the identity of the “other sheep”, it is removed in paragraph 28.
“Those people of good will, that is, the Jonadab class, are the sheep of the ‘other flock’ which Jesus mentioned, when he said: “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (John 10:16)” (w34 8/15 p. 249 par. 28)
Rutherford tells us that the doors have been closed to the heavenly hope. The only hope left is for life on earth as part of the other sheep or Jonadab class.
“The city of refuge was not for the anointed of God, but such city and loving provision made for those who should come to the Lord after the temple class is selected and anointed.” (w34 8/15 p. 249 par. 29)
In ancient Israel, if a priest or Levite were to become a manslayer, he too would have to take advantage of the provision of a city of refuge. So they were not exempt from the provision, but that doesn’t fit with Rutherford’s application, so it is ignored. The antitypical cities of refuge are not for the priestly class of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
A Clear Clergy/Laity Distinction
To this day we say that we are all equal and there is no clergy/laity distinction in the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is simply not true and Rutherford’s words bear out that it hasn’t been true since we took the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses”.
“Be it noted that the obligation is laid upon the priestly class to do the leading or reading of the law of instruction to the people. Therefore, where there is a company of Jehovah’s witnesses…the leader of a study should be selected from amongst the anointed, and likewise those of the service committee should be taken f the anointed….Jonadab was there as one to learn, and not one who was to teach….The official organization of Jehovah on earth consists of his anointed remnant, and the Jonadabs [other sheep] who walk with the anointed are to be taught, but not to be leaders. This appearing to be God’s arrangement, all should gladly abide thereby.” (w34 8/15 p. 250 par. 32)
Can there be any doubt that the entire doctrine of the other sheep—as Christians who are not anointed with God’s spirit; who do not have a heavenly calling; who are not to partake of the emblems; who do not have Jesus as their mediator; who are not children of God; who only achieve an approved state before God at the end of the thousand years—is entirely based on Rutherford’s concocted, inconsistent and wholly unscriptural belief that there is an antitypical correspondence with the ancient Israelite cities of refuge. To quote Governing Body member David Splane, Rutherford was clearly going “beyond what is written.”
Now, if you are reeling under this revelation and seeking some anchor for your faith, you may be reasoning “that was then, this is now”. Surely there has been new light, refinements, and adjustments to this doctrine. So while we don’t accept the antitypical application anymore, we do know from other Scriptures that the other sheep are exactly who we say they are. If so, then ask yourself what those proof texts are? After all, this is a core doctrine. Surely you can provide hard scriptural proof that doesn’t involve made-up types and antitypes to prove to someone that your belief is not based on speculation, but Scripture.
Okay, let’s give it a go. Type “other sheep” into the WT Library. Now go to Publications Index. Select “Index 1986-2013”. (We’ll start with the most recent “new light”.)
Before clicking on “other sheep”, let’s try something. Click on “Resurrection”. Do you notice the “discussion” category? Notice how many references there are? The discussion category is typically where you would go for a full discussion on the topic. Under “Resurrection” there are 22 discussion articles and this is just for the 28-year period from 1986 to 2013. I tried this with other related topics:
- Baptism -> discussion -> 16 articles
- Holy Spirit -> discussion -> 9 articles
- New Covenant -> discussion -> 10 articles
Now try it with “other sheep”. Remarkable, isn’t it? No discussion topic references at all. This is a key doctrine! This is a salvation issue! Yet, it is not discussed so as to provide proof and support from Scripture.
We have to go back to the previous index covering a time period of 55 years to get a paltry three topic references. Still, it’s not numbers that count, but facts. Let’s have a look at the top one. What Scriptural facts does it provide to prove all we teach about the redemption and salvation of the other sheep?
“At this point Jesus went on to make the remarkable but large-hearted statement: “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold [or, “pen,” New International Version; Today’s English Version]; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16) To whom did he refer as “other sheep”?
4 Since those “other sheep” were not of “this fold,” they were not to be included among the Israel of God, the members of which have a spiritual or heavenly inheritance.”
(w84 2/15 p. 16 pars. 3-4 The Recent Pen for “Other Sheep”)
Everything is based on the unfounded assumption that “this fold” represents the Israel of God, or anointed Christians. What Scriptural evidence is given to prove this assumption? None. Let me restate that. NONE!
Nor is there anything in the context to show this. Jesus was talking to Jews, mostly opposers, at that time. He says nothing about the Israel of God, nor does he indicate in any way that he is referring to his disciples by using that term. It is far more likely and more in keeping with the context that he was referring to the Jews present and listening as “this fold”. Was he not sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel? (Mt 9:36) Could the other sheep he’s referring to which were blended into “this fold” to become one flock under one shepherd not be the gentiles that would later become his followers?
Speculation? Sure, but that’s the point. We cannot know for sure, so on what basis do we build a doctrine that defines the very salvation Christians are striving for?
Rutherford built a doctrine by going beyond what is written and establishing false type/antitype relationships. Our “other sheep” doctrine is still built on a foundation of human speculation. We have abandoned the prophetic types, but have not replaced that foundation with the rock of God’s word. Instead, we build on the sand of more human speculation. In addition, we have continued to promote Rutherford’s idea that salvation is dependent on continued membership in and support of an organization rather than on faith and obedience to Jesus Christ.
You may personally like the doctrine of the other sheep. You may take great comfort in believing it. Perhaps you feel that you could never measure up to being one of the anointed brothers of Christ, but the scaled down requirements of being one of the other sheep is something you can attain to. But that just won’t do. Remember David Splane’s reference to Arch W. Smith. He gave up his hobby of pyramidology because “he let reason win out over emotion.”
Let us not give in to emotion and personal desire, but instead allow reason to guide us to the truth revealed in God’s word about the true hope for Christians. It is a wonderful hope and very much to be desired. Who would not want to share in Christ’s inheritance? Who would not want to be one of God’s children? The gift is still being offered. There is still time. All we have to do is worship in spirit and truth; reach out and accept what our loving Father is offering; and stop listening to men who tell us we just don’t measure up. (John 4:23, 24; Re 22:17; Mt 23:13)
We must let the truth set us free.
[i] This article will be by necessity longer than normal. This is due to the fact that two 1934 Watchtower study articles are involved. The old articles had twice as much verbiage in them as modern ones do, so this will be akin to reviewing four study articles at once.
[ii] Square brackets are added to quotes throughout the article to clarify the identity of nouns or assist in understanding the meaning of a passage.
[iii] Rutherford’s position is outlined in The Watchtower, 9/1 p. 263 thus: “It would seem there would be no necessity for the ‘servant’ [essentially Rutherford himself] to have an advocate such as the holy spirit because the ‘servant’ is in direct communication with Jehovah and as Jehovah’s instrument, and Christ Jesus acts for the entire body…If the holy spirit as a helper were directing the work, then there would be no good reason for employing the angels … the Scriptures seem clearly to teach that the Lord directs his angels what to do and they act under the supervision of the Lord in directing the remnant on earth concerning the course of action to take.”
[iv] It should be noted that the designations, “the class known as ‘millions that will not die’”, “people of good will”, and “The Jonadabs” have been long abandoned by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Nevertheless, the publishers have kept the class distinction by simply renaming it to “other sheep”. This new name has something in common with the previous ones however: a complete lack of Scriptural support.