Victory Over Death—Is It Possible for You?
1. How do we respond to the idea of victory over death?
VICTORY over death! How delightful! The very idea warms the hearts of humans. But from time immemorial it has been the other way around. Death has reigned victorious over mankind. So, how could such a reversal ever be achieved? Who could do it? Is victory over death possible for you?
2, 3. According to the Rig-Veda, how did death come to mankind?
2 Death is a reality. It is no fable, as our grief-stricken human family well knows. As for death’s origin, the Hindu Rig-Veda depicts Yama as the first man to die. The Rig-Veda implies that Yama is another name for the first man, and that he had a twin sister, Yami, who was the first woman. We read: “Remembering the earth and days to follow, obtain a son, the issue of his father. Yes, this the Immortals seek of thee with longing, progeny of the sole existing mortal.” (RV. 10. 1. 3)1 The Rig-Veda thus depicts Yama as “the sole existing mortal,” hence, the first man, and that it was Heaven’s will for him to beget offspring for the sake of “earth and days to follow.”
3 Regarding the introduction of death to humanity, the Rig-Veda says: “He [Yama], for God’s sake, chose death to be his portion. He chose not, for men’s good a life eternal.” (RV. 10. 13. 4) Interestingly, Yama means “cessation.”2 A fitting meaning for the one reputed to have brought cessation to eternal life on earth.
4. (a) Why does the Rig-Veda appear to recall memories of the Bible’s record of death’s origin? (b) How did God explain to Adam the reason for death?
4 These Rig-Veda quotations seem to recall memories of the Bible’s earlier record of the first man and woman, and how they brought death to the human family. For example, the Bible’s account reveals that the first man and woman were closely related. As Adam said: “This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” (Genesis 2:23) Also, it was God’s will for the first human pair to “be fruitful and become many and fill the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) Moreover, by his willful disobedient action, Adam, the first man, rejected life and chose death. This was not for men’s good, because it resulted in loss of eternal life for all of his descendants by God’s judgment, which was carried out by the natural law of heredity. So the Bible states: “And to Adam he said: ‘Because you listened to your wife’s voice and took to eating from the tree concerning which I gave you this command, “You must not eat from it,” cursed is the ground on your account. In pain you will eat its produce all the days of your life. In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.’”—Genesis 3:17, 19.
5. How did this affect Adam’s descendants, and why?
5 Explaining how the first man’s actions affected his offspring, the Bible says: “That is why, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” This clearly shows that death came as a punishment for disobedience to God the Creator. Disobedience to God is sin. And, “the wages sin pays is death.”—Romans 5:12; 6:23.
6. (a) Does the Rig-Veda concur that the wages sin pays is death? (b) What obligation did writers of the Rig-Veda feel toward Heaven?
6 The Rig-Veda shows sin to be a violation of divine law with death as the penalty. We read: “Whatever law of thine, O God, O Varuna, as we are men, Day after day we violate, Give us not as prey to death, to be destroyed by thee in wrath.” (RV. 1. 25. 1, 2) The Vedic writers obviously felt a sense of sin and viewed death as a punishment for sin, and they tried to appease their gods by prayers and sacrifices. Many of the Rig-Veda hymns are taken up with prayers for removing sin, and with sacrifices propitiating their gods. They also made their god Varuna the upholder of moral law, apparently sensing some legal obligation toward Heaven.3
FEAR OF DEATH
7. What effect does the thought of death have on the human race?
7 Death is decidedly a grief-inducing element within the experience of our human family. It is associated with tragic loss and with a feeling of utter helplessness by bereaved survivors. Mankind in general does not harbor friendly feelings toward death. The Sanskrit word for death is mrtyu. The Rig-Veda portrays Mrtyu as Death personified and as the son of Bhaya (Fear). This suggests the close link between fear and death. Indeed, references to death in early Vedic writings make it clear that death was viewed with dread.4
8. What admission is made concerning fear of death?
8 Hindu writer Rohit Mehta admits that death elicits fear within many humans.5 Discussing an allegory in the Hindu Katha-Upanishad, Mr. Mehta wrote: “Why was Death unwilling to convey its secret to the young and fearless enquirer? Perhaps Yama thought if the secret of Death is known by the mortal then surely he will have no fear of death.”
9. (a) How has the fear of death enslaved the human race? (b) What will help to remove this fear?
9 It is this fear of death that has held the human race in mental slavery to all manner of superstitions and omens. The Bible speaks of “all those who for fear of death were subject to slavery all through their lives.” (Hebrews 2:15) How have men been held in slavery through fear of death? It is by the immense volume of restrictive omens, customs, and superstitions that inhibit life’s movements. For example, the Hindu manual “Knowledge of Omens” is particularly connected with astrology.6 There was a code of omens named the “Law of the Lizard.”7 The worst omen was a cat cutting across one’s path. It betokened death. All such dread of omens stems from fear of death, which has a profound effect on how a person conducts his life. Undoubtedly, an understanding of what death truly is will positively do much to remove such fear.
SOUL AND SPIRIT—WHAT ARE THEY?
10. (a) What questions are raised regarding death? (b) How do we find the true answers?
10 Where are the dead? What is the condition of those who die? Really, what happens at death? Much of the uncertainty about the condition of the dead revolves around the understanding of the word “soul” and the word “spirit.” To arrive at the truth concerning the above questions, it is necessary to distinguish between the original meaning of these two words and the later interpretation given to them by religious commentators. To know the truth of these subjects, one must guard against preconceived notions based on the speculations of mere human interpreters. Often, human religious teachers make interpretations that differ from those of others. Therefore some interpretations are bound to differ from the very first meanings of the words “soul” and “spirit.”
11, 12. (a) What is the Sanskrit word for “spirit,” and what does it mean? (b) Why is God said to be a Spirit?
11 For instance, the word “soul” is very often used to translate the Sanskrit word ātma. Is this correct? Some derive this Sanskrit word from an, meaning “to breathe”; others from at, meaning “to move”; and others from va, meaning “to blow.” The oldest derivation is believed to be from a root meaning “to breathe.”8 This is interesting when we compare it with the words for “spirit” in the languages that most of the Bible was originally written in, Hebrew and Greek. Both the Hebrew word (ruʹach) and the Greek word (pneuʹma) basically mean “breath” or “wind.” And the English word “spirit” comes from the Latin spiritus, which means “breath.”
12 These Hebrew, Greek, and English words for “spirit” are used in many different ways. But in all their uses they have9 something in common: They all refer to something that is invisible to humans and that gives the evidence of force in motion—just like breath or wind. Obviously, then, the Sanskrit word ātma would more properly be translated as “spirit” rather than as “soul.” Hence, when the sentence, “God is a Spirit,” was translated into Sanskrit, it was rendered: “Ishwar ātma.” (John 4:24) This is because God is both invisible and powerful, as the words “spirit” and ātma denote. But God is not, of course, and never was, disembodied spirit. God has always been and always will be an absolute Spirit!
13, 14. What is the Sanskrit word used to translate “soul”? What does it mean?
13 At Genesis 2:7 in the Bible we read the statement: “The man came to be a living soul.” Here the word “soul” appears, and it is translated from the Hebrew word neʹphesh. This Hebrew word comes from a root meaning “to breathe.” However, it signifies “a living being, an individual, a person.” When this verse was translated into Sanskrit, the phrase “living soul” was translated “sa sātmaprāni babhuva.” Sātmaprāni contains three words: sa-ātma-prāni.10 Sa means “with”; ātma11 is “spirit”; and prāna signifies “vitality, life, vital breath.”12 The Sanskrit prānin13 means “a living or sentient being, an individual, a person,” similar to the Hebrew neʹphesh.
14 In Sanskrit, a prāni in a literal sense could signify “a breather,”14 someone or something that breathes. The Hebrew neʹphesh has the same significance. Animals are also breathers; they also breathe. So the Sanskrit Bible translators rendered neʹphesh as prāne (plural of prāni) at Genesis 2:19, where the Hebrew word for “soul” refers to animals, not humans. Thus, prān is frequently used in the Sanskrit Bible to translate the Hebrew neʹphesh, and the Greek word for soul, psy·kheʹ.
15 Hence, the Sanskrit translation of the phrase “[man] became a living soul” (sa sātmaprāni babhuva) could be rendered literally into English as “[man] with spirit soul became.” (Genesis 2:7) It could properly be read: “[man] became a ‘spirited’ soul,” or “an animated soul.” This statement in Genesis is referred to later in the Bible at 1 Corinthians 15:45. Here, the writer quotes Genesis and says: “The first man Adam became a living soul.” The Sanskrit translation of this reads: “Purusha Adam jivaprāni babhuva.” The phrase “living soul” appears as jivaprāni. The word jiva15 signifies “living,” while prāni is used to translate the word for “soul.”
16. Why is there confusion over the meaning of “soul” and “spirit”? Should there be?
16 Confusion arises because in some Indian languages “soul” and “spirit” are used interchangeably.16 When translating the Bible into other languages, scholars allowed preconceived beliefs to influence their use of these words.16 However, in the Bible languages and in Sanskrit the words “soul” (neʹphesh, prān) and “spirit” (ruʹach, ātma) are not interchangeable.a
17. How only can we learn the truth about “soul” and “spirit”?
17 To learn the truth about “soul” and “spirit” we must distinguish between their two different meanings and distinctive applications. That there is a difference is clearly seen in the Bible at Hebrews 4:12, where it says: “For the word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul [prān, Skt.] and spirit [ātma, Skt.].” The distinction is also shown at 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
18. (a) What question has tantalized mankind for centuries? (b) What divided opinions existed in Vedic times?
18 Then what is this thing called prān, or soul? Does it survive death? This question has tantalized man for many centuries. The Katha-Upanishad17 relates a curious conversation between the Hindu god of death and a youth named Nachiketa. Nachiketa said: “Some say the soul exists after death, others say it does not exist. I request as my third boon, that I may be introduced by thee in the true answer to this question.” Thus, this Upanishad reveals some doubt on the subject of survival after death. Divided opinions on the state of the dead existed even after the Vedas were written. Then how did the Upanishad answer this common question? It said: “On this point even the gods formerly had their doubts. It is not easy to understand. That subject is subtle. Choose another boon, O Nachiketa, do not press me, and let me off that boon.”18 Hence, in some religious communities there has been uncertainty on this question.
19. What various attitudes do some religious people have toward survival after death?
19 Most people, however, have taken survival of a person after death for granted.19 But reasoning persons are not interested in mere assertions. They want convincing proof. There are some people who rebel at the shortness of life. Some even believe that religious people have simply invented survival after death as a way to overcome their sense of insecurity. For some, the heart resents the idea of death20 as cutting life short, and yet the mind21 is not satisfied with the explanations given. What exactly does happen at death?
WHAT HAPPENS AT DEATH?
20. (a) How does the Bible describe the creation of the first human soul? (b) Of what is a living human soul composed, and how might it be illustrated?
20 The Bible gives much enlightenment on the prān, or soul. It also contains comforting and cheering information on the condition of the dead, and it provides hope for our dead loved ones. The Bible’s description of the human soul is found at Genesis 2:7, “Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of the dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul [sātmaprāni, Skt.].” Please note, man did not receive a soul, rather, he came to be a living soul. Hence man is a soul. Therefore, you do not possess a soul, but you yourself are a soul. A living human soul has two vital constituents: fleshly body plus life-force (ātma). Separate the life-force from the body, and there is no living soul. The soul becomes nonexistent. Man is no longer “a breather,” and therefore, is no longer a soul. It is like water made of two gases, hydrogen and oxygen. By combining these two gases in correct proportions, water is formed. Extract one of the gases from the compound, and the water ceases to exist.
21. (a) Why does death not make one a disembodied soul? (b) Why does man not become a disembodied spirit at death? Illustrate.
21 Accordingly, at death you do not become a disembodied soul. No, for the simple reason that your fleshly body is a part of your soul. When the body dies, the soul is dead, it ceases to exist. Neither do you become a disembodied spirit, or ātma. Why not? Because the ātma is the impersonal life-force, or spirit, which animates the living soul, and which empowers the soul to think, move, and live. When the life-force, or ātma, is extinguished within the living soul, the effect is similar to what happens when electricity is withdrawn from a light bulb. The light is extinguished. Where does the light go? It simply becomes nonexistent. It is for this reason that death is the very opposite of life. And that is why death came to mankind as a punishment for disobedience to the Creator of life.
22. (a) What does the Bible say that shows that the soul dies? (b) How does the Bible explain the condition of the dead?
22 The human soul is, therefore, not immortal, but mortal—subject to death and extinction. In confirmation of this, the Bible states: “Look! All the souls—to me they belong. As the soul of the father so likewise the soul of the son—to me they belong. The soul [prāni, Skt.] that is sinning—it itself will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4) Consequently, the condition of the dead is far different from what human rishis, or religious sages and gurus, have speculated it to be. The Bible, as God’s Word, authoritatively states: “Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs. His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish.” “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten. All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol, the place to which you are going.”—Psalm 146:3, 4; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10.
23. (a) Thus what discovery about death have we made? (b) Is it possible to revise our ideas about death? Illustrate.
23 The Bible thus teaches that death brings total cessation to one’s thinking and consciousness. Death ends activity, work, devising, knowledge, and wisdom. Death is nonexistence. Assuredly there is no life after death! This explanation of the human soul and condition of the dead may come as a shock to many. But so did the discovery of the earth’s shape when it was found to be spherical. The human race had to reconcile itself to the truth. Likewise, when the emperor of Japan acknowledged his humanity and renounced his godship, the ideas of millions had to be readjusted in line with the facts. And when scientists put men on the moon, millions had to revise their religious ideas of the universe. So, too, millions of people around the world in this 20th century have already reconciled their beliefs to their discoveries of the Bible’s teachings regarding a destructible soul and the unconscious dead.
24. Why are these discoveries about the state of the dead comforting?
24 But how is this knowledge about the dead comforting or cheering? Well, it is comforting to know that our dead loved ones are not suffering pain anywhere. They are not existing in a semiliving, inert state of Nirvana.22 Nor are they toiling along a remorseless and merciless series of rebirths, or samsaras.23 Nor are their identities lost forever, released (moksha)24 into a mass of impersonal World Spirit (paramātman).25 But the dead are dead. They are in a state of nonexistence. Moreover, there is a bright hope for our dead loved ones. This is why the foregoing information about the dead is comforting and cheering. But we now ask: What hope could there ever be for any renewal of life for the dead, and yes, what hope for the living?
A LEGAL PROBLEM
25. Why are we faced with a legal problem, and what is it?
25 You will recall that our human race became subject to sin and death because of God’s righteous decree that was sustained by the operation of heredity. So the problem arises: How could God as Judge honor his decree or decision and at the same time redeem our race from sin and death without violating true justice? Since divine law and righteousness demand that a law violator be punished with death, how could sinners be acquitted and death be eliminated, without a violation of justice? Not only is God perfect in love and mercy but he is also perfect in justice. God is not arbitrary. To uphold his word and maintain his status as God and Sovereign, God cannot ignore his own inviolable law.
26. What is needed to solve the problem, and why?
26 God as the Giver and Enforcer of his decision must abide by his decision to preserve his position as Universal Judge. Granting mercy to a lawbreaker without a legal basis would pervert justice. For justice to be true, divine mercy to sinners must be lawful. Hence, before sinners can receive acquittal and be restored to real life, God must be provided with a satisfactory equivalent, or a corresponding ransom. (1 Timothy 2:5, 6) In this way, God would continue to command the respect and obedience of the whole universe.
27, 28. (a) What did we lose through our first forefather? (b) Illustrate how this can be restored. (c) What did ancient Hindus do to get right with their gods, and what may have been the reason?
27 Our first common ancestor, Adam, forfeited his own perfect human life and the right to eternal life in exchange for selfish use of his free will. In so doing, he sold all of his future offspring—including us—into sin and death. Our opportunity for eternal life was lost—forfeited by our first forefather. So for the purpose of illustration, it is somewhat similar to when a family falls into unhappy circumstances and the father forfeits the family gold to a moneylender, or a bank. Now the family goes through life without its gold, and even the offspring fail to inherit it. But later the offspring are able to redeem their family gold from the moneylender by paying a redemption price that the moneylender considers adequate to fulfill justice.
28 Similarly, to satisfy justice, our human race needed a redemption, or a price, to ransom them from sin and death and to restore their birthright. The stress on sacrifice in the Rig-Veda may have been rooted in memories of ancestral sacrificial practices. (Compare Genesis 4:4; 8:20.) The book Indian Wisdom shows that horses, oxen, sheep, and goats were sacrificial victims in Vedic times. And it says: “Such sacrifices were held to be propitiatory.”26 It is significant that ancient Hindus felt, somehow, that lifeblood had to be sacrificed for them to get right with their gods.
29. (a) Why can animal sacrifices not meet the price required? (b) Can the human race produce the required price?
29 However, as one ancient authority stated: “It is not possible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take sins away.” (Hebrews 10:4) The price needed is a perfect human life, which is exactly equal to what our first forefather Adam forfeited in exchange for a disobedient life. This is the only ransom price that will satisfy God’s perfect justice. But are we humans in a position to produce such a high price? Honesty compels us to admit that we are unable to provide such a redemptive price to purchase our own release from sin and death. As an honest Bible writer confessed: “Not one of them can by any means redeem even a brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.”—Psalm 49:7.
GOD’S LOVE TO THE RESCUE
30. (a) How did God rescue man from his helplessness? (b) How was a spirit Son of God made suitable for the right price?
30 Recognizing humanity’s helplessness, God, in his wondrous love, came to our rescue. God prepared the required price from among his perfect spirit sons in heaven. The Bible says: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) To be the corresponding price to our first perfect human forefather, this spirit Son had to become a human. A spirit incarnation, or avatar, could not be the exact equivalent of our first human ancestor. So God’s only-begotten spirit Son had to divest his spirit form and be miraculously born into our human race to become perfect flesh and blood—a member of the same race—nothing more and nothing less. The Bible puts it this way: “When the full limit of the time arrived, God sent forth his Son, who came to be out of a woman and who came to be under law, that he might release by purchase those under law, that we, in turn, might receive the adoption as sons.”—Galatians 4:4, 5.
31. (a) Why have history’s religious leaders overlooked the true victory over death? (b) Have we humans been left entirely without a Ransomer, and why do you so answer?
31 Who was this spirit Son of God who was born from woman as a perfect man so that he could pay the ransom price, or purchase humanity’s release from sin and death? Throughout history there have been countless humans claiming to be saints, rishis, swamis, world gurus, holy men, god-men, and reformers. But not one of them ever claimed to be a redeemer, or a ransomer! It would appear that none of them recognized or understood the religious doctrine of redemption. In all the history of religion only one spiritual leader claimed to be the Redeemer of mankind from sin and death. He was the one who said: “Just as the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.”—Matthew 20:28.
32, 33. (a) Why was Christ’s death no ordinary death? (b) Illustrate the doctrine of the ransom, and explain how one man’s action can save millions of humans from sin and death.
32 In identifying this one, the Word of God states: “We behold Jesus, who has been made a little lower than angels, crowned with glory and honor for having suffered death, that he by God’s undeserved kindness might taste death for every man.” (Hebrews 2:9) Consequently, the death of Jesus Christ was no ordinary death—it was a sacrifice. Christ forfeited his own perfect human life and earthly prospects to purchase the life rights of our own human race. Thus, by virtue of his earthly ministry and sacrificial death, Christ Jesus became mankind’s Ransomer. Therefore, it is written: “But it is not with the gift as it was with the trespass. For if by one man’s trespass [Adam’s sin] many died, the undeserved kindness of God and his free gift with the undeserved kindness by the one man Jesus Christ abounded much more to many. So, then, as through one trespass the result to men of all sorts was condemnation, likewise also through one act of justification [Christ’s sacrifice] the result to men of all sorts is a declaring of them righteous for life.”—Romans 5:15, 18.
33 Just as a cholera epidemic can spread swiftly through a whole village from only one sick patient, and just as the medicine from only one doctor can bring healing to many in the same village, likewise, God’s perfect justice permits only one corresponding ransom price to effect the redemption of millions of sinners descended from the one first man.—Compare 1 Timothy 2:5, 6.
34. (a) How are human life rights presented to God, and for what purpose? (b) What does the ransom arrangement do for God?
34 As a reward, God restored his Son to spirit life, enabling him to present to God in heaven the value of his sacrificed human life as the purchase price for the life rights of our race. Thereby God had the legal basis to return the right to life to Adam’s offspring. The Bible says: “Why, even Christ died once for all time concerning sins, a righteous person for unrighteous ones, that he might lead you to God, he being put to death in the flesh, but being made alive in the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18) Most importantly, this grand accomplishment vindicates God’s original creative work, his word, and his righteousness.
ACHIEVING VICTORY OVER DEATH
35. What must we do to avail ourselves of these life rights purchased by Christ?
35 Do we wish to avail ourselves of these life rights? To do so, what must we do? We need to make grateful acknowledgment to both God and his only-begotten Son for their self-sacrificing love and undeserved kindness, as a great international crowd in our own 20th century are now doing. The Bible describes them: “After these things I saw, and, look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands. And they keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: ‘Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb [Jesus Christ].’” (Revelation 7:9, 10) The historical facts of our 20th century, particularly since the year 1935, prove that this grateful international crowd is now in existence on all continents of the earth. But how do we acknowledge this gratitude?
36. (a) How do we make grateful acknowledgment to God? (b) What kind of God is Jehovah?
36 We need to identify the God of heaven and learn how to worship him. Some 1,500 years before Christ was born, the ancient prophet Moses unwisely asked to see God. What was the outcome? We read: “‘Cause me to see, please, your glory.’ But he said: ‘I myself shall cause all my goodness to pass before your face, and I will declare the name of Jehovah before you’ . . . And he added: ‘You are not able to see my face, because no man may see me and yet live.’” “And Jehovah proceeded to come down in the cloud and station himself with him there and declare the name of Jehovah. And Jehovah went passing by before his face and declaring: ‘Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, preserving loving-kindness for thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin, but by no means will he give exemption from punishment.’”—Exodus 33:18-20; 34:5-7.
37. (a) How does one worship God “with spirit”? (b) How does one worship the Father “with truth”?
37 Is this beautiful description not what we would expect the invisible God to be like? Here is the kind of God we can admire and worship. But how should we worship Jehovah? God wants us to worship him with spirit and truth. The Bible says: “Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him. God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.” (John 4:23, 24) To worship the Father with spirit means that the veneration of physical places, objects, buildings, and material representations of God are forbidden. It is truth that really matters. To worship the Father, Jehovah, with truth means that our religious practices, beliefs, and teachings must be in agreement with the actual state of things, the truthful reality of things, as revealed in God’s written Word. God’s chief Spokesman said in prayer to the Father: “Your word is truth.”—John 17:17; compare Acts 17:24, 25.
38. How and why has Christ Jesus been misunderstood?
38 If then Jehovah is the true God, who is Jesus Christ? To the Jews, Christ was a cause of stumbling. To the non-Jews, Christ was foolishness. The Bible states: “But we preach Christ impaled, to the Jews a cause for stumbling but to the nations foolishness.” (1 Corinthians 1:23) The Jews rejected Christ as their Savior because his manner of life and death did not meet their nationalistic ambitions. To non-Jewish nations who seek to find God by human speculation, Christ’s manner of life and death was completely unintelligible. His death seemed a sheer waste—unnecessary. Jehovah God’s will and purpose as revealed and accomplished by Christ was foolishness because of the astonishing reversal of human suppositions and values.
39. (a) On what have millions of people satisfied themselves about Christ Jesus? (b) What do they recognize about him?
39 Even today, millions of people stumble over Christ Jesus. In their estimation Christ is foolishness. Is that how you feel about Christ? Conversely, there are millions today who have satisfied themselves on the true worth of Christ Jesus. They recognize that Christ is not God Almighty, but is a Son of Jehovah. Christ was the firstborn of all of Jehovah’s creatures, and God made him the Word, or Spokesman to the rest of creation. So we read: “In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was in the beginning with God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.” (John 1:1-3) Thus Jesus Christ in his prehuman existence filled the dual role of being God’s “master worker,” and the voice, or mouthpiece, of God.—Compare Proverbs 8:22, 30; Colossians 1:15, 16.
40. (a) How does Christ qualify to be humanity’s High Priest before God? (b) What role does Christ fulfill toward Jehovah’s worshipers?
40 In superintending his own human sacrifice and its life-restoring benefits, Christ becomes humanity’s High Priest before the God of heaven, Jehovah. We read: “However, when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come to pass, through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, he entered, no, not with the blood of goats and of young bulls, but with his own blood, once for all time into the holy place and obtained an everlasting deliverance for us.” Also he thereby becomes God’s Chief Agent of life. In his role of teacher, Jesus is the Guru of all worshipers of Jehovah God: “But you, do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers.”—Hebrews 9:11, 12; Matthew 23:8; compare Acts 3:15.
41. (a) Why did Christ not preach world reformation? (b) Will there be survivors of the “great tribulation”? (c) What kind of person is Jesus Christ?
41 Hence, Christ Jesus is far more than a mere religious reformer. He knew, for the most part, that this wicked system of things is irreformable. For this reason Jesus preached, not world conversion, but “great tribulation.” He said: “For then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.” (Matthew 24:21, 22) That “great tribulation” will destroy the wicked and will vindicate Jehovah’s righteousness before all creation. Jesus’ words imply, however, that some “flesh would be saved.” This is because Christ loves righthearted people. That is why he died for them. We get a glimpse of Jesus’ personality in these words: “And Jesus set out on a tour of all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity. On seeing the crowds he felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.”—Matthew 9:35, 36.
42. How may suffering people today soon obtain relief?
42 In our own 20th century also, many people are “skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” And we may be sure that Jesus feels the same pity for them. That is why God’s Kingdom by his self-sacrificing Son will soon extend its kindly rule over the faithful survivors of the “great tribulation.” God’s Word foretold: “Look! A king will reign for righteousness itself.”—Isaiah 32:1.
43. (a) What is God’s Kingdom? (b) How have human governments tried to benefit their subjects, and with what success?
43 God’s Kingdom is made up of a body of tried and tested, faithful, integrity-keeping persons who form a government in heaven, headed by Christ Jesus. This is God’s heavenly raj that will exercise its sovereignty over the whole earth. (Revelation 5:10) Today, people look to their human governments for employment benefits, housing provisions, and health benefits. And several governments fix a series of five-year plans for the purpose of developing these benefits for their subjects. But they can offer no hope whatsoever for their dead. And the historical experiences of all former governments weigh heavily against their chances of full success in their plans for the living.
44. (a) What will God accomplish during a period of 1,000 years? (b) By what means will God arrange for humans to achieve victory over death?
44 Nevertheless, God’s Kingdom, not by a series of 5-year plans, but by a 1,000-year program will “do more than superabundantly beyond all the things we ask or conceive.” Thus we read: “And I saw thrones, and there were those who sat down on them, and power of judging was given them. . . . And they came to life and ruled as kings with the Christ for a thousand years.” (Ephesians 3:20; Revelation 20:4) During that 1,000-year rule, God’s King-Priest will apply the benefits of his ransom sacrifice to earth’s happy people. Gradually sin and its damaging effects of sickness, imperfection, and old age will be removed from their fleshly bodies. Hence, God’s Kingdom is His means for humans to achieve victory over death.
45, 46. (a) What does God guarantee regarding sin, maladies, and life? (b) As for restoring righteousness and eternal youth to humankind, what guarantee does God give?
45 Let us read together some of the guarantees that God himself gives for these promises: “Happy is the one whose revolt is pardoned, whose sin is covered. Happy is the man to whose account Jehovah does not put error, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” “Bless Jehovah, O my soul, and do not forget all his doings, him who is forgiving all your error, who is healing all your maladies, who is reclaiming your life from the very pit, who is crowning you with loving-kindness and mercies, who is satisfying your lifetime with what is good; your youth keeps renewing itself just like that of an eagle.”—Psalm 32:1, 2; 103:2-5.
46 “‘Let his flesh become fresher than in youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor.’ He will make entreaty to God that he may take pleasure in him, and he will see his face with joyful shouting, and He will restore His righteousness to mortal man.” (Job 33:25, 26) What is more, all the evidence indicates that Christ’s Thousand Year Rule will begin within the lifetime of our present generation!b
47. (a) How can Christ’s ransom benefits be applied to the dead in memorial tombs? (b) How will Jehovah resurrect dead human souls? (c) Until when will God’s Son rule as King?
47 For the applying of Christ’s ransom to the world of mankind to take place, there must be a return to life of dead human souls from the memorial tombs. So God’s Kingdom by Christ will accomplish a resurrection of billions of dead humans just as God’s Word assures us: “And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Hades gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds.” (Revelation 20:13) How can this be done? The Creator will simply re-create new human fleshly organisms from the earth’s dust and from his perfect memory will recall former life patterns, superimposing them upon the new brain circuits, and will infuse each organism with the life-force, or ātma. Then these re-created living souls, or jivaprāne, will live on earth once again. What a stupendous miracle! Only Jehovah can do this through the legal ransom arrangement. And this is also why the future life of dead loved ones depends, not on a fictitious immortal soul, but rather on the unfailing love and memory of Jehovah God. Indeed, “for he [Christ] must rule as king until God has put all enemies under his feet. As the last enemy, death is to be brought to nothing.” (1 Corinthians 15:25, 26) Never again will death be allowed to dominate God’s human creation.
48. (a) Is victory over death possible for you? (b) What triumphant cry can you choose for the future?
48 What a magnificent hope! How gratifying! The very idea warms the hearts of humankind. Surely victory over death is possible for you! Will you choose it? God respects your free will just as he respected the free will of our first forefather. But we pray that you will make the wise choice. May you be among those future happy ones who will triumphantly cry in victory: “Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?”—1 Corinthians 15:55.
1. The Hymns of the Rigveda, by Ralph T. H. Griffith, 1896. Revised by J. L. Shashtri, 1973. Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi, 1976 reprint. (This edition of the Rig-veda is used throughout the booklet.)
2. A Dictionary of Hinduism, by Margaret and James Stutley, page 346. Allied Publishers, 1977.
3. Ibid., page 324.
4. Ibid., page 194.
5. The Journey With Death, by Rohit Mehta, page 7. Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1977.
6. A Dictionary of Hinduism, page 209, states: “Nimittajnana ‘Knowledge of omens.’”
7. Hindu Religion, Customs and Manners, by P. Thomas, pages 76, 77, D. B. Taraporevala Sons & Co., Bombay, 1956, states: “Gowli Sastra or science of the wall lizard.”
8. A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, by Sir M. Monier-Williams, page 135, first edition, Oxford University Press, 1899. Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1976 reprint. A Dictionary of Hinduism, page 31.
9. Aid to Bible Understanding, Watch Tower Society, 1971, page 1542.
10. A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, page 1200.
11. Ibid., page 135.
12. Ibid., page 705.
13. Ibid., page 706.
15. A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, page 422.
16. Confusion over the use of “soul” and “spirit” in Indian language Bibles is illustrated by samples in the following charts:
Text OR SK HI BE MR GU MY
Gen. 1:2 ruʹach atma atma atma atma atma atmavu
Gen. 2:7 neʹphesh prani prani prani prani prani dhehi
Matt. 2:20 psy·kheʹ prana prana pran jiva jiva pranan
John 4:24 pneuʹma atma atma atma atma atma atmavu
1 Thess. 5:23 pneuʹma atman atma atma atma atma atmavu
1 Thess. 5:23 psy·kheʹ prani prana pran jiva pran pranan
Heb. 4:12 psy·kheʹ prani jiva pran jiva jiva pranan
Heb. 4:12 pneuʹma atma atma atma atma atma atmavu
Explanations of abbreviations of languages in the above chart:
OR = Original BE = Bengali GU = Gujarati
SK = Sanskrit MR = Marathi MY = Malayalam
HI = Hindi
The translation of psy·kheʹ into the Tamil language Bible uses at least seven different words, five of which are Sanskrit loanwords. Out of 102 occurrences of psy·kheʹ the Tamil Bible uses:
āttuma (Sanskrit: “spirit, essence”) 36 times
jivan (Sanskrit: “life, living”) 32 times
manam (Sanskrit: “think, thought, mind, heart”) 9 times
manushan (Sanskrit: “human, man”) Rom. 13:1
prānan (Sanskrit: “soul, vital breath, being”) 5 times
uyir (Tamil: “life, existence, being”) 10 times
per (Tamil: “name, reputation, person”) 4 times
Not listed 5 times
See Greek New Testament Terms in Indian Languages, by J. S. M. Hooper. The Bible Society of India, 1957, pages 176, 177, 240, 241.
Samples of texts in the Tamil Bible where the Sanskrit prāna is used for neʹphesh and psy·kheʹ are: Genesis 19:19, 20; 25:8; 35:29; 47:25; 1 Samuel 19:5, 11; 22:23; 23:15; 24:11; 2 Samuel 1:9; 23:17; 1 Kings 1:12; 2:23; 3:11; 19:2, 3, 10, 14; 7:7; 1 Chronicles 11:19; 2 Chronicles 1:11; Matthew 2:20; Acts 15:25-26; 20:14; Romans 16:4; Philippians 2:30; Revelation 16:3.—The Concordance to the Tamil Bible, by D. A. Thrower, 1943. The Christian Literature Society, Madras, 1976 reprint.
The Malayalam word commonly used for “soul” is dhehi, which comes either from the Sanskrit, dheya meaning “what is created,” or deha signifying “the body,” or dehin “having a body.”
17. Indian Wisdom, by Sir M. Monier-Williams, 1893, page 41. Cosmo Publications, New Delhi, 1978 reprint.
18. The Sacred Writings of the World’s Great Religions, by S. E. Frost, Jr., 1943, page 33. The New Home Library, The Blakiston Co., Philadelphia, 1947 reprint.
19. The Journey With Death, page 11.
20. Hinduism, by Nirad C. Chaudhuri, page 312. B. I. Publications, New Delhi, 1979.
21. The Journey With Death, page 14.
22. The Wonder That Was India, by A. L. Basham, page 271. Grove Press, Inc., New York, 1954, 1977.
23. A Dictionary of Hinduism, page 264.
24. The Wonder That Was India, page 323.
25. A Dictionary of Hinduism, pages 31, 219.
26. Indian Wisdom, page 28.
a See item 16 in the bibliography on page 29.
b For proof, see the booklet From Kurukshetra to Armageddon—And Your Survival, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
[Picture on page 5]
The first human couple brought death to mankind
[Picture on page 7]
Death brings tragic feelings of loss and helplessness
[Picture on page 11]
They are all souls
[Picture on page 13]
Body + life-force = living soul
[Picture on page 18]
God exercised love, balanced by justice, to save mankind from sin
[Picture on page 20]
The perfect Jesus was the exact equivalent of Adam
[Picture on page 22]
We do not need big buildings or statues in order to worship God
[Picture on page 23]
Adam’s sin made Jesus’ sacrifice necessary
[Picture on page 27]
Achieving victory over death!