Questions From Readers
● Does not the expression “in Christ shall all be made alive” include Adam?—P. E., Maryland.
Evidently Adam stood in a different position as regards redemption from that occupied by his descendants. He had the right to life, but did not value it or appreciate it enough to hold on to it; whereas his descendants never had the right to life and needed redemption from the beginning. It should be observed that in the statement “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” Adam is excluded from the comparison. (1 Cor. 15:22) We could not say that Adam died in Adam. Adam was personally sentenced to death for his own willful wrongdoing, but not his offspring. Nor does the Bible anywhere say that Adam was the one ransomed to thereby automatically release all his descendants. The ransom is not given for one, but “for many” or “for all”. (Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:6) However, in 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, the apostle is discussing the resurrection of Christ’s body members. The statement that “in Christ shall all be made alive” applies to all those “which are fallen asleep in Christ” (1Co 15 verses 6, 18), and not to mankind in general. (See The Watchtower, April 1, 1944, ¶¶22-25.) Hence those to be thus made alive must come into relationship to Christ as Life-giver and are made members of his body. Not all men receive the benefits of Christ’s ransom, but only “all them that obey him”. The condemnation inherited from Adam is lifted from those who believe and obey Christ Jesus; it remains upon those who do not believe and obey.—John 3:18, 36; Heb. 5:9.
● How can we harmonize Matthew’s account that both thieves railed at Jesus with Luke’s that tells of one scoffing and the other defending Jesus?—M. Q., California.
A possible explanation would be that at the start both taunted Jesus, but that as time passed one of the thieves noted what was happening and observed how Jesus patiently endured injustice and cruelty. During these passing hours this thief might easily have changed his mind about Jesus, and, though scoffing at first, as Matthew notes, later championed Jesus, as Luke relates.
However, another explanation may be the answer. There may have been four others impaled with Jesus, two on each side. Matthew uses a Greek word translated “thieves”, whereas Luke uses a different Greek word, which is translated “malefactors”. From Matthew’s account it appears that Jesus had already been impaled, and lots had been cast for his garment, and a sign posted over his head, by the time the two thieves were brought up and impaled with him. Then these two newcomers joined with the priests and people in railing at Jesus. (Matt. 27:35-44) But from Luke’s account it appears that the two malefactors were “led with him to be put to death” and that when this trio arrived at Calvary “there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left”. One of these malefactors scoffed at Jesus, the other believed in Jesus and the kingdom. (Luke 23:32-43; see New World translation) Hence this explanation would say that two malefactors were impaled at the same time as Jesus, one of whom scoffed and one who believed Jesus, and that later two thieves were brought and impaled, both of whom taunted Jesus. This would mean there were two staked on each side of Jesus, or a total of five staked in a row. This contention is supported by the fact that there is a “Calvary” to be seen at Ploubézéré near Lannion, in the Côtes-du-Nord, Brittany, known as Les Cinq Croix (“The Five Crosses”). There is a high cross in the center, with four smaller ones, two on each side.
● If the faithful men before Jesus’ time are not resurrected as perfect men, in what way is their resurrection “better”?—Texas reader.
The questioner refers to Hebrews 11:35: “Women received their dead by resurrection; but other men were tortured because they would not accept release by some ransom, in order that they might attain a better resurrection.” (NW) We let the new book “This Means Everlasting Life” answer by our quoting from it, page 295: “By the faith of God’s prophets of old a number of persons were resurrected from the dead, but because they were inheritors of death from Adam and the Kingdom was not yet established, they returned to death. All those faithful ones of old, down to John the Baptist, died in faithfulness to Jehovah God, and for this they will have a resurrection better than what those had who were resurrected to a life still under the regime of sin and death. It will be a ‘better resurrection’ because it will be performed by Jehovah’s greatest prophet, the King Jesus Christ, and it will be performed under God’s kingdom in his hands. It will be without the unavoidable need to die again, because it will be under the rulership of the Son of God, whose ransom secures their release forever from death. The opportunity to gain life on earth eternally will then be set before them; and with Satan and his demons abyssed and his wicked world gone there will be no forces to hinder their efforts to gain the latest knowledge on God’s kingdom and to walk the paths of enlightened righteousness toward everlasting life in this Paradise. And since they exercised faith as far as they had knowledge and they died in their unbreakable integrity toward God, they have inclined toward righteousness, and this will be to their advantage at the resurrection under His kingdom by Christ.”