“[Jesus] said to them: ‘…You will be witnesses of me…
to the most distant part of the earth.’” – Acts 1:7, 8
This is the second of a two-part study intended apparently to reinforce our belief in the alleged divine origin of our name, “Jehovah’s Witnesses”.
In paragraph 6, we get down to the topic of the article by addressing the question, “Why did Jesus say: “You will be witnesses of me,” not of Jehovah?” The reason given is that he was speaking to Israelites who already were witnesses of Jehovah. It is true that in one place—and one place only—Jehovah refers to the Israelites as his witnesses. This happened 700 years before Jesus’ arrival when Jehovah presented a metaphorical court scenario with the Israelites presenting evidence on his behalf before all the gentile powers. However—and this is crucial to our argument—the Israelites never referred to themselves nor did other nations ever refer to them as “Jehovah’s Witnesses”. This was never a name given to them. It was a role in a metaphorical drama. There is no evidence that they considered themselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses, or that the averaged Israelite believed he was still playing the role of witness in some global drama.
So to state that the Jewish followers of Jesus were already aware that they were Jehovah’s Witnesses is stretching credulity. However, even if we accept this as fact, the millions of Gentile Christians that would begin to enter the congregation just a short 3 ½ years later would not know they were Jehovah’s Witnesses. So if that were indeed the role which the vast, vast majority of Christians were to play, then why would Jehovah not inform them of it? Why would he mislead them be putting a different role upon them as we can see from the inspired direction written to the Christian congregation listed below?
(Thanks go out to Katrina for compiling this list for us.)
- “…before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the nations.” (Mt 10:18)
- “…be put on the stand before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them.” (Mark 13:9)
- “…you will be witnesses of me in Jerusalem, in all Ju·de′a and Sa·mar′i·a…” (Acts 1:8)
- “John bore witness about him, [Jesus]” (John 1:15)
- “And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me…” (John 5:37)
- “…and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” (John 8:18)
- “…the spirit of the truth, which comes from the Father, that one will bear witness about me; and you, in turn, are to bear witness…” (John 15:26, 27)
- “So that this does not spread any further among the people, let us threaten them and tell them not to speak to anyone anymore on the basis of this name.” With that they called them and ordered them not to say anything at all or to teach on the basis of the name of Jesus.” (Acts 4:17, 18)
- “And we are witnesses of all the things he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem;” (Acts 10:39)
- “To him all the prophets bear witness…” (Acts 10:43)
- “These are now his witnesses to the people.” (Acts 13:31)
- “…you are to be a witness for him to all men of the things you have seen and heard.” (Acts 22:15)
- “…and when the blood of Stephen your witness was being spilled…” (Acts 22:20)
- “For just as you have been giving a thorough witness about me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome…” (Acts 23:11)
- “…a witness both of things you have seen and things I will make you see respecting me.” (Acts 26:16)
- “…all those everywhere who are calling on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:2)
- “…just as the witness about the Christ has been made firm among you,…” (1 Corinthians 1:6)
- “…who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all—this is what is to be witnessed to in its own due time.” (1 Timothy 2:6)
- “So do not become ashamed either of the witness about our Lord or of me…” (2 Timothy 1:8)
- “If you are being reproached for the name of Christ, you are happy, because the spirit of glory, yes, the spirit of God, is resting upon you. But if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but let him keep on glorifying God while bearing this name.” (1 Peter 4:14,16)
- “Because this is the witness God gives, the witness that he has given about his Son….has not put his faith in the witness given by God concerning his Son.” (1 John 5:9,10)
- “…for speaking about God and bearing witness concerning Jesus.” (Revelation 1:9)
- “…you kept my word and did not prove false to my name.” (Revelation 3:8)
- “…and have the work of bearing witness concerning Jesus.” (Revelation 12:17)
- “…and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus…” (Revelation 17:6)
- “…who have the work of witnessing concerning Jesus…” (Revelation 19:10)
- “Yes, I saw the souls of those executed for the witness they gave about Jesus…” (Revelation 20:4)
That’s twenty seven—count ‘em, 27—scriptures telling us to bear witness about Jesus and/or to call on or honor his name. Let us not think this in an exhaustive list either. Just this morning while going my daily Bible reading, I came across this:
“. . .But these have been written down so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and because of believing, you may have life by means of his name.” (Joh 20:31)
If we get life by means of the name of Jesus, then we must bear witness about him so that others also can get life by means of his name. It is not by Jehovah’s name that we get life, but by Christ’s. That is Jehovah’s arrangement.
Yet, we give mere lip service to Jesus’ name in rare articles like this one, all the while emphasizing Jehovah’s name to the virtual exclusion of Christ’s. This is not in line with Jehovah’s purpose nor is it the message of the Good News about the Christ.
To justify our name, Jehovah’s Witnesses, we have to skip right over the Scriptures written specifically to us—the Christian Greek Scriptures—and go to the Scriptures written for the Jews, and even then we can only find one verse which requires some misdirection to make it work for our purposes. One verse in the Hebrew Scriptures verses twenty eight and counting in the Christian Scriptures. So why, exactly, don’t we call ourselves Jesus’ Witnesses?
I’m not suggesting we do. The name given us by God is “Christians” and it will do quite nicely, thank you very much. However, if we are going to presume to name ourselves, then why not go with a name that has far more scriptural justification behind it than “Jehovah’s Witnesses” does? That is the question one would have hoped to have answered in a study with this title, but after making only cursory mention of it in paragraph 5, and giving an answer a lawyer would object to as “nonresponsive”, the question is never raised again.
Instead, the article reiterates our recent bolster of 1914 and related teachings. Paragraph 10 says that “anointed Christians pointed in advance to October 1914 as a significant date….Ever since that marked year of 1914, “the sign of [Christ’s] presence” as earth’s new King has become clear for all to see.” How carefully worded these statements are. They perpetuate a wrong understanding without actually lying overtly. This is not how a Christian instructor demonstrates the love of the Christ for his students. Knowingly allowing someone to continue believing a falsehood by carefully working your statements to avoid revealing the whole truth is reprehensible.
That facts are: The Bible Students believed 1874 was the start of Christ’s presence and didn’t abandon that belief until the late 1920s. They believed 1914 was marked as the start of the great tribulation, a belief not abandoned until 1969. However, the rank and file studying this article next weekend will undoubtedly believe that for decades prior to 1914 we “knew” that it marked the impending start of Christ’s presence.
Paragraph 11 states categorically that Jesus “began to deliver his anointed followers from captivity to “Babylon the Great.” Again, carefully worded. Based on recent articles, most will believe that in 1919 Jesus chose us because we alone were free from Babylon, i.e., false religion. Yet, we held on to many Babylonish customs (Christmas, birthdays, the cross) well into the 20s and 30s.
The paragraph then states: “The postwar year of 1919 opened up the possibility for a worldwide witness about…the good news of the established Kingdom.” Paragraph 12 adds to this thought by saying that “from the mid-1930’s onward, it became evident that Christ had started to gather millions of his “other sheep,” who make up a multinational “Great Crowd”” who are “privileged to survive “the great tribulation”.
Jesus’ good news was of the kingdom, but the kingdom to come, not the established kingdom. (Mt 6:9) It hasn’t been established yet. The other sheep refer to gentiles, not some secondary salvation classification. The Bible doesn’t speak of a great crowd of other sheep. Therefore, we have changed the good news. (Gal. 1:8)
The rest of the article talks about the preaching work carried out as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
What an excellent opportunity we have missed! We could have spent the article explaining what it really means to be a witness of Jesus?
- How does one bear witness concerning Jesus? (Re 1:9)
- How can we prove false to Jesus’ name? (Re 3:8)
- How are we reproached for the name of Christ? (1 Pe 4:14)
- How can we imitate God by bearing witness about Jesus? (John 8:18)
- Why are Jesus’ witnesses persecuted and killed? (Re 17:6; 20:4)
Instead, we again ring the same old bell proclaiming the false teachings that distinguish us from all the other Christian denominations out there so as to build faith, not in our Lord, but in our Organization.