Questions From Readers
● Why does the New World Translation say Christ’s followers were called Christians “by divine providence”? I understand it is a name of reproach given by unbelievers. At Genesis 4:26 it tells of men hypocritically calling themselves by the name of Jehovah, and would not the antitype be those who call themselves by the name of Christ?—F. B., England.
Acts 11:26, NW, reads: “It was first in Antioch that the disciples were by divine providence called ‘Christians’.” The translation so reads because that is what the original Greek word seems to mean. The verb chrematízo in question occurs nine times and the noun chrematismós occurs once, and by referring to these occurrences and noting how the translation reads in each one, you will appreciate that these Greek words are always used in connection with what is from God and hence divine in that sense. See Matthew 2:12, 22; Luke 2:26; Acts 10:22; 11:26; Romans 7:3; Hebrews 8:5; 11:7; 12:25, and Romans 11:4. Hence, because of the controversial nature of Acts 11:26, the New World Bible Translation Committee acted wisely in rendering the word “were by divine providence called”. Whether it was the enemies who called the believers Christians or it was God by Christ Jesus, the calling of them by this name was within the divine providence according to the Scriptural usage of the Greek verb used. The Greek word used at Genesis 4:26 in the Greek Septuagint is not the same word as used in the scriptures here under discussion, but is the word used at Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13.
● Why does Isaiah 45:7 state that Jehovah God creates evil, when we know him to be good and righteous in all his ways?—C. S., Ontario, Canada.
Isaiah 45:7 states: “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I am Jehovah, that doeth all these things.” (AS) Jehovah God sows light for righteously disposed ones, and through his Word the Bible enlightens their minds, but he brings mental darkness upon those who willfully continue in a wrong course. (Ps. 82:5-7; 97:11; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 13) Peace of mind, even now, is the lot of those devoted to God and his service, and in the new world under the reign of his Prince of Peace all then living will rejoice in that blessed state forever. (Ps. 72:1, 4, 7, 8; Isa. 9:6, 7) As for the statement that God creates evil, it does not mean anything or any practice that is morally wrong. “Evil” as here used does not mean moral evil, of which God could never be guilty, but it refers to a calamity or disaster or destruction, such as he brings upon his unrepentant foes, and that particularly at the battle of Armageddon. From rebellious Adam’s time onward punishment has come from God upon the willfully wicked, and this has been wholly just on God’s part, but it has been as an evil to the ones meriting it. This matter is discussed at great length in the two-part article entitled “Peace and Evil”, appearing in the May 1 and 15, 1930, issues of The Watchtower.
● A Rosicrucian publication claims that there was no such city as Nazareth until the third century A.D., that Jesus never lived at Nazareth, and that wherever he is referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth” it should read “Jesus the Nazarene”, because he was born to and reared by the Nazarenes Nazaretes and Essenes (known as the “Great White Brotherhood”). How would you answer these claims?—A. S., Ontario, Canada.
Although Nazarene(s) occurs only twice in the King James Version, you will notice it regularly occurs in the New World Translation, about nineteen times, from Matthew 2:23; 26:71; Mark 1:24; on through to Acts 26:9. But that does not disprove the contention that Jesus was from Nazareth and for that reason called a Nazarene, no more so than it proves he was a member of the Nazarenes Nazaretes and Essenes. These are nowhere mentioned in the Christian Greek Scriptures.
Although thus called a Nazarene at the above passages, Jesus is definitely called “Jesus from Nazareth” at John 1:45 and Acts 10:38 (NW) instead of Jesus the Nazarene. It is true that Nazareth is not mentioned in any Jewish source of that period, not even Josephus, but that is not denying the existence of such a town in Galilee. It is definitely mentioned in the Christian Greek Scriptures, and that is sufficient for us who “let God be true”, and God’s Word definitely states that it was because of his locating at Nazareth that he was called a Nazarene, even aforetime by the prophets, and not because he belonged to any forerunners of the Rosicrucian sect. (Matt. 2:23, NW) Nazareth is definitely mentioned twelve times by itself in the Christian Greek Scriptures.
Says McClintock & Strong’s Cyclopædia, under “Nazareth”: “Previous to that event [Matt. 2:23], the place is altogether unknown to history. In Old-Testament Scripture it is never once named, though a town could hardly fail to have existed on so eligible a spot from early times. Josephus, though personally familiar with the whole district in which it lies, is equally silent regarding it. The secluded nature of the spot where it stands, together with its own insignificance, probably combined to shroud it in that obscurity on account of which it would seem to have been divinely chosen for the rearing of God’s . . . Son. As his forerunner, John the Baptist, ‘was in the desert,’ unnoticed and unknown, ‘till the day of his showing unto Israel,’ so the great Messiah himself, till his public ministry began, was hidden from the world among the Galilaean hills. . . . Of the identification of the ancient site there can be no doubt. The name of the present village is en-Nâzirah, the same, therefore, as of old.”
Nazareth is the Syriac form of the name. It was a good obscure place for Joseph and Mary to go to hide from the murderous Herods.