Questions From Readers
● Why or in what sense does the New World Translation use the word “tormented” at Revelation 20:10?—F. F., West Virginia.
The expression “will be tormented” here translates the Greek verb basanízo. This verb is derived from the Greek noun básanos, which was a Lydian stone by which gold was tried. When pure gold was rubbed against it it left a yellow streak. Hence básanos came to mean “touchstone”, and then “examination, test, trial of genuineness”, and, when applied to humans under examination, “inquiry by torture,” and then just “torture, torment” from various causes. Because in ancient times the prison keepers or jailers were the ones to apply this torture of prisoners under examination, the jailers came to be called basanistés, as at Matthew 18:34 (NW). You will notice the footnote on this text in the New World Translation says: “Or, ‘tormenters.’”
Hence the New World Translation renders Revelation 20:10: “And the Devil who was misleading them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulphur, where both the wild beast and the false prophet already were; and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” This, of course, means they will be jailed in destruction for ever and ever, because Re 20 verse 14 says the lake of fire “means the second death”. It corresponds with Gehenna, in which Jesus said God Almighty is able to “destroy both soul and body”. (Matt. 10:28, NW) The jailers will never release them from this state of destruction.
Since basanízo means basically to examine or test by a touchstone, this tormenting of them daily and forever means that the Devil, the wild beast and the false prophet challenged the supremacy and universal sovereignty of Jehovah God. So they are permitted to exist to test the genuineness of Jehovah’s rightful supremacy and sovereignty, and the test which eventually results in their being cast into the “second death” proves Jehovah genuine in his right to supremacy and sovereignty. Therefore during all time to come, “day and night for ever and ever,” whenever reference is made to the Devil, the wild beast and the false prophet as a touchstone, that is, whenever they are tormented on the score of Jehovah’s supremacy and sovereignty, such reference to Devil, beast and prophet will be against them but will show up the rightful sovereignty and supremacy of Jehovah God. In other words, by means of them Almighty God settles forever the question at issue on the supremacy and sovereignty of the universe. They never return to life to challenge him again.
● In the April 1, 1951, Watchtower, page 218, it states concerning Christendom: “After she falls at Armageddon, we must do like Ezekiel, preach the Kingdom and the divine vengeance upon all systems outside of Christendom, till the ‘war of the great day of God the Almighty’ destroys them and his universal sovereignty stands vindicated forever.” Does this mean that after Armageddon starts and organized religion falls the witness work will continue and further ingathering of ‘other sheep’, especially from heathendom, will take place?—F. B., New York.
None got into Noah’s ark after the flood started. None escaped from Sodom and Gomorrah who delayed flight till the fire and sulphur began to fall. Jesus showed how impossible successful flight would be for those who delayed till Armageddon’s beginning, by use of the symbolisms of winter and sabbath day. (Gen. 7:1-24; 19:12-29; Matt. 24:20-22) When Jesus warned of the folly of delaying flight, he did mention a shortening of the days of tribulation that some flesh might be saved. We are now in this specially provided period for the salvation of Jehovah’s “sheep”, when the tribulation launched against Satan’s organization in 1914 has let up but will soon resume to its climax and finish in Armageddon. Now is the time to flee, as prefigured by the temporary lifting of the Babylonians’ siege of Jerusalem, and which allowed for escape by those who heeded Jeremiah’s preaching. (Jer. 37:1-12; 39:1-9) Similarly, the Roman siege of Jerusalem began A.D. 66, but was strangely lifted for a time and allowed opportunity of escape before its resumption under Titus and the city’s fall, A.D. 70. Both of these sieges and falls of Jerusalem, with their interims of relieved pressure allowing for escape, pictured the final tribulation upon Satan and his organization beginning A.D. 1914 and ending at Armageddon, but shortened by the present in-between period allowing opportunity for the saving of persons devoted to Jehovah God. Hence the foregoing shows there is no opportunity for last-minute flight or deathbed repentance after Armageddon begins.
What, then, did the words of The Watchtower as quoted by this questioner mean? Why, that as long as there are persons attached to this present wicked system of things we will preach about the kingdom of God and declare his vengeance. We will let whatever men and organizations that remain after the fall of Christendom’s religions know that Jehovah’s battle of Armageddon has started and that his vengeance will reach out to consume all of Satan’s world, climaxing in the abyssing of Satan himself. Ezekiel declared God’s vengeance against heathen nations after he had foretold the divine wrath against Jerusalem. (Eze Chapters 25-32) Jeremiah, at Jehovah’s command, extended the wine cup of God’s fury to heathendom after he had made Jerusalem drink of it. (Jer 25:15-29) It was not, in, these cases, a message of good news and invitation to eternal life, but one of coming doom at Jehovah’s vengeance time. Hence the article in the April 1 Watchtower, which was discussing Isaiah chapter 6, was telling us that even after Armageddon has started we will preach “until cities be waste without inhabitant, and houses without man, and the land become utterly waste, and Jehovah have removed men far away, and the forsaken places be many in the midst of the land”.—Isa. 6:11, 12, AS.