Questions From Readers
● Since our songbook, our prayers, our new Bible, etc., are doing away with archaic expressions, what about the word brethren?—H. K., Nebraska.
It is well to replace the archaic word brethren with the modern equivalent brothers, as is done in the New World Translation. When a congregation is addressed as “brothers” the sisters are included, just as they always were when the archaic expression brethren was used. For example, at Romans 1:13 Paul wrote: “I do not want you to fail to know, brothers, that I many times purposed to come to you, but I have been hindered until now, in order that I might acquire some fruitage also among you even as among the rest of the nations.” (NW) Certainly Paul was not excluding the sisters by his use of the term brothers. Again, “Brothers, the good-will of my heart and my supplication to God for them are, indeed, for their salvation.” And, “I entreat you by the compassions of God, brothers, to present your bodies a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason.” (Rom. 10:1; 12:1, NW) In both of these cases the sisters were included. They certainly share in rendering sacred service, just as much as do the male members of the congregation. Not only may we reason from the contents of the letters that the sisters were included in the general term brothers, but also we may especially conclude so since in Christ there is neither male nor female and all are sons of God and are brothers of one another. (Gal. 3:27, 28, NW) So in using modern speech in addressing the congregation the word brothers is sufficient, including all present, and makes unnecessary the longer address of “brothers and sisters”.
● The Watchtower of October 1, 1949, spoke of the “day of Jehovah” as though it were future, yet to come. The April 1, 1950, Watchtower spoke as though we were in the “day of Jehovah”. How can these statements be harmonized?—J. B., Virginia.
The October 1, 1949, Watchtower dealt with the “day of Jehovah” upon antitypical Babylon, which is described in Isaiah 13. That day in type arrived back there when ancient Babylon fell. It arrives in our time when Great Babylon, the Devil’s organization, falls. So that “day” for Jehovah’s strange act, his battle of Armageddon, is still future. We pray for it. The “day of Jehovah” in which we have been since A.D. 1914, and to which “day” the April 1, 1950, Watchtower made reference, is his “day” upon his spiritual Israel, marked by assuming his power and enthroning his King, laying him in Zion as the chief cornerstone. This is the day Jehovah has made, and we will rejoice and be glad in it, happy that it is here. (Ps. 118:24) The backgrounds behind the expression “day of Jehovah” must be kept in mind, for they can give it a twofold meaning or application.
● I always thought Abraham, as well as Isaac and Jacob, was a Jew. Yet the August 15 Watchtower, page 246, says “Abraham was not a Jew”. Is that correct?—C.A., New York.
Abraham could not have been a Jew, because Jews or Judeans were descendants of his great-grandson Judah, whom Jacob blessed with the special promise concerning the scepter and Shiloh, when giving his deathbed blessings to his twelve sons. Hence the term Jew first appears in the Hebrew Bible in Jeremiah’s day, at Jeremiah 34:9, and also in Esther concerning Mordecai the Jew, and in the postcaptivity prophecy of Zechariah 8:23. The expression “Jews” also occurs at 2 Kings 16:6 and 2Ki 25:25, Jeremiah being understood to be the compiler of 1 and 2 Kings. All Israelites who held to the tribe of Judah because of the Kingdom promise attached to it were called Jews or Judeans, and the name is so used in the Christian Greek Scriptures.
● If Jehovah is all-powerful and knows the end from the beginning, then he must have known that the covering cherub in Eden would rebel and lead Adam and Eve into rebellion, and thus bring woe upon all mankind. Knowing this beforehand, why did God create these creatures that would fail?—I. C., Pennsylvania.
Acts 15:17, 18 (NW) says: “Jehovah, who is doing these things which he has known from of old.” In other words, Jehovah God knows from of old or from the beginning what works he is going to do, and therefore declares them for our information, as he did at Genesis 3:15. But he does not choose always to intrude his foreknowledge into what his creatures are going to do, but lets them exercise their free will as free moral agents. That is what God did in the case of Adam and Eve and of the covering cherub whom he anointed to be over them. For God to exercise foreknowledge concerning their case would have been to predestinate them, because that foreknown course would then have been required to fit God’s foreknowledge. In which case Adam and Eve and the covering cherub would not have stood a chance of going straight. That would be unjust on God’s part, to set before them verbally an opportunity to enjoy everlasting life in happiness in a righteous world, whereas all the while he foreknew and hence predestinated that they would never make it. It would be raising false hopes, which would be deceptive and unfair.
So in their case God did not choose to exercise foreknowledge of what these creatures (persons other than himself) would do. The only thing he did predestinate respecting them was that if they obeyed they would live forever, but if they rebelled they would suffer and die. God so informed Adam, and through him Eve. (Gen. 2:16, 17) So God did not become responsible for any of them going wrong. But after they had gone wrong he permitted Adam and Eve to live on and raise a family. If it had not been for such mercy by God, you and the rest of us would never have been born and had opportunity for eternal life in the righteous new world. God is not now exercising foreknowledge of whether we individuals will succeed or not, but he is leaving it entirely up to each one of us. But he does have foreknowledge of what he himself is going to do in vindicating his name and in blessing obedient creatures, and he has informed us by his prophecy, the meaning of which he is now revealing to us.