Turning to the Peoples a Pure Language
“For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of Jehovah, to serve him with one consent.”—Zeph. 3:9, AS, Da, Yg.
1. What is Jehovah turning to the peoples? With what effect?
JEHOVAH God’s language is as pure as truth. It is the only pure language. Now is the time to be speaking it. Mastered by the peoples of whatever nationality, his language is a mighty unifying force amid a divided, war-menaced world. It does away with religious error and false worship and unites all persons who speak the language in a pure worship of the living and true God. In an era when the 2,796 listed languages and dialects of the world act as a great barrier to people’s understanding of one another and when hundreds of religious sects confuse and prejudice mankind on the vital matter of worship, Jehovah God is turning to the many peoples of today a “pure language”. This is in fulfillment of his ancient prophecy by one of his witnesses, Zephaniah: “For then I will turn the speech of the peoples into a purified speech; so that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD [Jehovah, AS], and serve him with one accord.”—Zeph. 3:9, AT.
2. Why now learn this language, call on God’s name and serve him?
2 Many persons will ask: “Why should I learn this language in order to call upon the name of Jehovah and serve him?” The answer is, Because our rescue from destruction depends on our pure worship and service of the Most High God. It is the prime requirement of our salvation. When we speak of destruction, we mean not merely a destruction of individual persons, but a destruction of nations, all the nations of this world. Are we meaning a world destruction? Yes! and this, not with the atomic and hydrogen bombs and chemical and germ warfare in mind, but with the execution of God’s purpose in mind: “‘Therefore wait for me,’ is the oracle of the LORD [Jehovah], ‘against the day when I arise as a witness. For it is my decision to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, that I may pour out my wrath upon them, all the heat of my anger. For in the fire of my zeal, all the earth shall be consumed.’”—Zeph. 3:8, AT, Ro, LXX.
3. How has God now gathered nations and kingdoms? Why is it a timely mercy that he now turns a pure language to the peoples?
3 That oracle of Jehovah, though uttered twenty-six centuries in the past, was especially spoken for our crucial day. Ancient Jerusalem, to whom it was first spoken directly, was just the prototype of modern Christendom, which professes to hold to the sacred Bible. Our day, since A.D. 1914 and its first world war, is the day of the gathering of the nations and the assembling of the kingdoms. Not by all the means of communication man has invented, however. No; but by the great witness which Jehovah has risen up to give, and by which he has brought them all together under his attention and has stirred them up to combine in united opposition to his purpose. In the very nick of time he mercifully turns the pure language to the peoples. With it all people seeking life in a new world may sound forth his name and may unite in serving him before ever this earthly international organization is consumed by the fiery expression of his wrath at the battle of Armageddon. In none of Christendom’s wars, from the days of Roman Emperor Constantine onward, has Jehovah God ever fought or aided either of the warring sides. But in the battle of Armageddon, which he has foretold, he will fight, outclassing all the fission and fusion bombs of Christendom, and he will win! Happily for those persons who have taken up his language and called upon his name and united in worshiping him, Jehovah will protect them during the heat of that world disaster. In safety he will bring them into the new world where only the pure language will be on every lip.—Rev. 16:13-16; Zeph. 2:1-3.
4. Who now talk this language? Where is the textbook for it?
4 Today in more than a hundred nations, as far as we have record, this “pure language” is being spoken. Regardless of their national or mother tongue hundreds of thousands are now speaking this “purified speech” in unity as one people; and the nations are hearing them talk it. Of course, the nations, with their national and religious traditions, do not like it. But they cannot prevent it any more than they can prevent Almighty Jehovah from turning the “pure language” to the peoples now that his fixed time for it has come. By now you are asking “What is this language, and where is the textbook on it?” The answer to this is very evident. Since it is the Lord Jehovah that turns the pure language to the peoples, we must turn to his written Word, the Holy Bible, for that is what he wants us to talk.
5. What is the language this textbook teaches?
5 The Bible is the textbook which teaches this language of the righteous new world. By that we do not mean the Hebrew, A·ra·maʹic and Greek in which the inspired Scriptures were originally written. Neither do we mean the mere written words of the Scriptures which a person may memorize and quote without knowing the right meaning of his quotation. We mean the pure message of God’s written Word, which he as its Author alone can make clear by his spirit. That message reveals who He is, what his name is, what his unchangeable purposes are concerning his friends and his enemies, now and in the new world. It is the message of the New World government, his kingdom in the hands of his anointed King, Jesus Christ. People who declare Jehovah’s purpose according to the revealed Scriptures and who announce his now established kingdom are speaking that pure language, declaring his name and serving him with one consent.
6. Why, then, are Christendom’s religionists not speaking it?
6 Jehovah God gave us the one original Bible. But despite this the hundreds of religious sects of Christendom are not speaking the “pure language” or calling upon Jehovah’s name and peacefully serving him in heart harmony. All together, these religionists have no harmonious message based on the Bible. Why? Because they place religious traditions, worldly philosophy and party loyalties above the pure, simple Word of God. They scorn the name of Jehovah God, they split over political and national issues and even fight violent wars of bloodshed and costly destruction, Catholic against Catholic and Protestant against Protestant. Their methods, purposes and hopes are all of the old world, and their language is of the old world. There is a fundamental need of purifying the language of sincere persons who want to worship God in spirit and in truth and to call upon his holy name and serve him in oneness.
7. Against whom, and why, did Jehovah say he would rise as witness?
7 When we consider the preceding words of the prophet Zephaniah, we see how well they find their final fulfillment in religious Christendom and we can appreciate the need for a “purified speech”. Referring to unfaithful Jerusalem of old and her modern counterpart in Christendom, Zephaniah says: “Woe to her that is rebellious and polluted! to the oppressing city! She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in Jehovah; she drew not near to her God. Her princes in the midst of her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they leave nothing till the morrow. Her prophets are light and treacherous persons; her priests have profaned the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law. . . . they rose early and corrupted all their doings.” (Zeph. 3:1-7, AS) Therefore Jehovah declared he would rise up against the hypocritical religionists as a witness and would deliver his testimony and execute his fiery judgment.
8. That not all may be consumed, what is it necessary to do?
8 But in order that not all the people on earth may be consumed in the execution of his wrath against disobedience, hypocrisy and wickedness it is necessary for Jehovah to purify the speech or language of persons to be saved. When we hear him describe the religious leaders as they really are, the prophets or preachers as reckless, untrustworthy men and the priests as profaning really holy things and doing violence to God’s law by wresting it out of its true meaning and application, we can see how the language of the people has been corrupted in respect to the most sacred and vital thing, their knowledge, understanding and worship of God. Little wonder that Jehovah finds grounds for wrath and has purposed to destroy the entire system of things.
INFILTRATION OF IMPURITIES
9. What corruption has taken place for centuries, as foretold?
9 This twentieth century represents the culmination of this corruptive process. During the nineteen centuries since the days of Christ’s apostles there has been a great departure from “the faith that was once for all time delivered to the holy ones”. (Jude 3, NW) The faithful apostles, and the Hebrew prophets before them, and, in fact, the typical history of the nation of Israel, foretold unitedly that there would be a great “falling away” from the original pure faith and its practice. About the middle of the first century the apostle Paul declared that the “mystery of this lawlessness” was already at work in his day, and he gave repeated warnings against what to expect. (2 Thess. 2:3, 7, NW) The prophecies of these things have proved to be inspired, for they have come true, as all the facts of history show.
10. Who took the lead then in the corruptive work, and how?
10 Men who accepted or seized the responsibility of teaching and leading the Christian congregation disregarded the apostolic warnings. They fell for the very things warned against, the philosophy of this world, particularly the Platonic philosophy of the Grecian culture which made a great show of worldly wisdom; and also the religious traditions of men which contradict, nullify and displace the Bible teachings. They slyly worked these religious traditions and worldly philosophy into the Christian congregations and infected their religious belief. Just as the apostle Paul had forewarned in his farewell letter: “Wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse, misleading and being misled.” (2 Tim. 3:13, NW) Only a small minority followed the instruction to “put up a hard fight for the faith” that was originally delivered by Jesus Christ and by his apostles and disciples who wrote under inspiration of God’s spirit of truth.
11. How did corruption reach out for the Bible’s original text even?
11 Thus the perversion of Bible teaching reached up into the highest religious circles. It even made attempts upon the written text of the Holy Scriptures. The original writings of the Hebrew prophets and of the apostles and their associates were inspired, but till the fifteenth century A.D. their writings had to be copied by hand. Mistakes due to human imperfection crept into the making of these copies. As the original autographs of the inspired writers disappeared or were not at hand, it became impossible to compare the copies with the inspired originals so as to make perfect copies, to correct errors and to weed out all additions and interweavings of worldly philosophy and uninspired religious traditions. One such addition, which was worked into the original Greek text of the Scriptures to support the doctrine of a trinity, was that at 1 John 5:7, 8, namely, the words “in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth”. This uninspired religious addition appeared first in a Latin translation of the fifth century. The Bible had threatened a punishment and had warned against thus adding to God’s Word or taking away from it.—Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:5, 6; Rev. 22:18, 19.
12. How has it been possible to reconstruct something close to that text?
12 Generally, however, there was a reverential regard for the text of the Scriptures itself, and hence an endeavor to keep it as free as possible from corruption. The writings of Christ’s disciples, with the exception of the gospel account by the apostle Matthew, were at first written in the common Greek spoken then throughout the regions of the Mediterranean sea. Of more than 4,000 Greek manuscript copies which are at hand today there are no two exactly alike. Yet by means of a careful study and comparison of these, especially with the most ancient manuscript copies and papyri fragments which have been discovered and brought to light in the last several centuries, it has been possible to construct a text of the Christian Greek Scriptures which closely resembles the original inspired writings of Christ’s disciples. Such a text makes for truth.
CORRUPTION THROUGH TRANSLATION
13. In what field was coloring of the message more possible? Why there?
13 But it was in the field of translating the original Scriptures into foreign languages that the Devil’s greater opportunity lay for perverting or coloring the sacred teachings of God’s Word. It was not the divine purpose that the good news of God’s Word should be held down to those who could read the original Hebrew, A·ra·maʹic and Greek of the Holy Bible. Jehovah is a God of salvation for all humankind of whatever race, color, nationality or language. In fulfillment of sacred prophecy, Christ Jesus was a Jew and all his apostles were Jews. Yet salvation by the sacrifice of his Jewish flesh was not for Jews only, but for all those of mankind who should believe on him. (John 3:14-17) So Jesus gave full width to the vision of our Christian work when he said to his disciples before parting, “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19, 20, NW) This meant translating the message of salvation into as many languages and dialects as the people of all such nations spoke. If the message was not translated, they could not understand it and act upon it in faith and obedience.
14. Was the first translation by Christians inspired? How so?
14 The first translation of the message of salvation by Christ’s disciples was inspired by God’s spirit. This was on the first day of Pentecost at Jerusalem after Jesus had ascended to heaven, and he poured out the spirit upon his 120 disciples there. So they “started to speak with different tongues, just as the spirit was granting them to make utterance”. The big crowd, representing fifteen or more lands, that assembled to witness this strange manifestation of God’s spirit said: “We hear them speaking in our tongues about the magnificent things of God.” (Acts 2:1-11, NW) There is historical testimony that the apostle Matthew first wrote his “book of the history of Jesus Christ” in the Hebrew for Jewish readers, but that later he made his own translation of this gospel account into the common Greek to reach a larger reading public. In that way he could transfer his inspiration to his translation into Greek, so that his written translation was inspired. (Matt. 1:1, NW) But the other disciples wrote directly in the common Greek; so their writings needed translation into A·ra·maʹic, Hebrew, Latin, etc.
15. Why should no written translation since be venerated as some are?
15 Aside from Matthew’s own translation into Greek, no written translation of the Scriptures down to this day is inspired. Moreover, being made from imperfect copies of the original Scriptures, the translation in a foreign language is often made more incapable of presenting perfectly the original thought or shade of meaning. So no recent translation of the Holy Scriptures should be venerated as inspired, not even the most popular Bible translation, the King James Version, nor the Latin Vulgate or Martin Luther’s Version.
16. How may translators be hindered from speaking the pure language?
16 Up till the beginning of the year 1950 the Scriptures had been translated, in whole or in part, into 1,118 languages and dialects. New translations are being turned out on the average of about one a month. For the most part these are being made by religious clergymen and missionaries of Christendom’s sects. Naturally the translations made by such religious men and women will be influenced, colored, worded and phrased according to the pagan philosophies and unscriptural traditions which their religious systems have inherited from the past. Their honesty, sincerity and religious zeal will fire them on to weaving these things into the translation as far as possible. And when they make their translation, not from the original Hebrew, A·ra·maʹic and Greek, but from a mere translation that already contains this particular religious coloration, it tends all the more to corrupt the translation. This hinders the users of the translation from speaking the pure language of God’s message of salvation.
17. How can a reader safeguard himself against a colored translation?
17 Just as the Bible students of ancient Beroea, Greece, searched the Scriptures daily to see whether the things preached by even such a person as the apostle Paul were Scriptural and thus true, so the reader of a modern translation can safeguard himself against religious coloration of a translation. How? By cutting through religious tradition and digging down to the original sources by means of all the modern helps that he has for this purpose, such as ancient language dictionaries, Bible concordances, the latest grammars on ancient tongues, etc. He can detect error by comparing Scripture verse with Scripture verse to note any inconsistencies in translation and then searching back to the original text, if possible.
18. So what does a translator need to serve God for salvation?
18 So a Bible translator needs more than mere religious fervor and honesty. He needs freedom from the religious traditions of influential, popular systems and from generally accepted pagan philosophies of this world. He needs to take the original writings of the inspired writers for what they say, in an effort to find, not the proof of modern religious teaching, but the “faith that was once for all time delivered to the holy ones”. Especially must he remember that the original Scriptures were inspired by God’s active force or spirit. He should therefore pray for that same spirit, not to inspire him, but to help and guide him in translating. For that spirit is “the spirit of the truth”, and God is more willing to give it to his spiritual children than an earthly father is to give good gifts to his natural children. (John 16:13, NW; Luke 11:13) The translator should not have in mind making a name for himself by having his name attached to the translation. He should be swallowed up in the desire to present the “pure language” of God’s truth in order that readers of his translation may call upon the name of God, whose name is Jehovah, and may join with people who speak other tongues and dialects in serving this one true God with one consent. In that way the translator serves God’s purpose and he works for his own salvation and that of those using the translation.