Questions From Readers
● In the article “The Lord’s Evening Meal”, January 15 Watchtower, page 48, paragraph 15, it states: “For the first four celebrations of the Memorial (A.D. 33-36) those who participated were Jews, proselytes and circumcised Samaritans.” Who were the proselytes? Were they Gentiles, partaking before Peter took the message to Cornelius?—M. M., New York.
They were Gentiles or non-Jews who had been converted to the Jewish religion, and were called proselytes. Since the start of the nation of Israel and the giving of the Law covenant, provisions were made for non-Jews to associate with the nation, as did the mixed multitude at the time of the exodus from Egypt. (Ex. 12:38) Repeatedly the Scriptures speak of strangers or sojourners among the Hebrews, who were circumcised, kept the Passover, brought sacrificial offerings, could flee to the cities of refuge, were often under the same regulations; in short, in these and other instances the rule was: “One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.”—Ex. 12:48, 49; Lev. 24:17-23; Num. 15:15, 16; 35:15.
When Jesus came, these proselytes in Israel and the circumcised Samaritans, who were blood relatives of the Jews, were sharing the Jewish hopes for a coming Messiah. These proselytes being closely associated with the Jews, they were not viewed as being separate like the other Gentiles. So they heard Jesus’ preaching, believed, and were accepted into the Christian congregations years before the gospel went to the uncircumcised Gentile Cornelius. That is why the evangelist Philip could go to Samaritan cities and preach, and convert the Ethiopian eunuch, and why the apostles in Jerusalem felt free to send Peter and John to the Samaritans. Peter showed no hesitancy to preach to these non-Jews. But how he held back when first instructed by a vision to go to uncircumcised non-Jews! (Acts 8:5, 14, 27-39; 10:9-48) It was the fact of uncircumcised Gentiles being accepted that precipitated heated contention, and not the mere fact that they were Gentiles. (Acts 11:1-3; 15:1, 2) That was because Gentiles who were proselytes, and hence circumcised, had been accepted all along, without contention. Such proselytes, being spirit-begotten and in the Christian congregation, would of course partake of the Memorial emblems, from the beginning.—Acts 2:10, 41, 42.
● In several instances in the Greek Scriptures men are called “good”. Yet when a young man called Jesus “good” he was rebuked and was told that none was good but God. Why?—T. C., Pennsylvania.
Jesus said that Jehovah “makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good”. Concerning Barnabas the record is, “He was a good man.” Young Christian women were instructed to be “good”. House servants were told to be in subjection to their owners, “not only to the good and reasonable, but also to those difficult to please.” (Matt. 5:45; Acts 11:24; Titus 2:5; 1 Pet. 2:18, NW) For other instances see Matthew 12:35; 20:15; 22:10; 25:21, 23; Luke 6:45; 19:17; 23:50. In all of these cases “good” translates the one Greek original word, agathós. The same Greek word is used where the record tells of the rich young ruler who questioned Jesus: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit everlasting life?” Jesus said to him: “Why do you call me good? Nobody is good, except one, God.”—Mark 10:17, 18; Luke 18:18, 19, NW.
Certainly if imperfect men could be called “good”, Jesus would qualify even more so as such. Nor would he object to the term “teacher”; he accepted that designation. (John 13:13, NW) Then why did he answer this young man as he did? It seems that the rabbis of Jewry affected this title, which would explain Christ’s rejection of it. When this ruler addressed him thus it amounted to classing him with the rabbis. Jesus wanted no rabbinical titles, and by this rebuke Jesus showed the impropriety of using such titles. (Job 32:21, 22; Matt. 23:7-10, NW) Christ had no objections to being properly identified as the teacher or master or leader, as he said it was well that they called him such, but when designations were linked in a title-setting commonly used to address rabbis in a flattering way he did protest. He drove the point home forcefully by taking the extreme and highest view of the matter, spotlighting Jehovah God as the one deserving of such title. Incidentally, this shows Jehovah no part of the trinity with two others equal with him, and trinitarian attempts to offset this by referring to Matthew’s wording of this meeting do not erase the two accounts by Mark and Luke.—Matt. 19:16, 17, NW.
That the rich ruler was using “Good Teacher” as a formalistic title rather than as expressing his honest conviction concerning Jesus is shown by his rejection of Jesus’ advice. Apparently he did not consider Jesus such a good teacher in reality, for he went off without following Christ’s counsel. He deserved rebuke.
● In establishing the length of the seven times of the Gentiles, a time or year of 360 days is used, to give 2,520 days, which become 2,520 years when Ezekiel 4:6 is applied. Yet when we figure from 607 B.C. down to A.D. 1914, the 2,520 years are solar years of 365 1/4 days each, and not lunar years of 360 days each. Is this proper?—N. N., New Zealand.
The Bible records ignore the solar year of 365 1/4 days as far as measuring natural time and prophetic time. The moon was used for fixing the months, and then the spring growing season for determining the beginning of the year in relation to the moon, making necessary 7 times every 19 years the addition of an intercalary month or Ve-Adar month, a thirteenth month. So since the length of the Jewish year was not stabilized to 365 days plus a leap year of 366 days, prophecy fixed a system of measurement of its time periods at 360 days for a year or time, calculating 30 full days to a month instead of the actual 29 1/2 days to a lunation. Genesis 7:11, 24; 8:3, 4 shows Noah calculated 30 days roughly to a month. Further confirmation of this unit as a prophetic norm of time is given us at Revelation 11:2, 3, where 42 months are run parallel with 1,260 days, making a year of 12 months equal 360 days. Note also that when Revelation 12:6, 14 parallels 3 1/2 years or times with 1,260 days it takes each time or symbolic year as equal to 360 days, and not 365 1/4 days by saying that the 3 1/2 times equal 1,278 and a fraction days. In 3 1/2 years or times there would be at least one and possibly two intercalary months, as explained by The Watchtower, March 15, 1948, pages 91, 92; yet Revelation ignored such intercalary months in giving the days of the 3 1/2 times. So we figure according to God’s Biblical way and are on firm foundation in saying that the symbolic seven times equal 2,520 years. And these 2,520 years should be counted as solar years, because the Jewish lunar years of 360 days, over long periods of time, kept pace with the solar years by means of the intercalary months added at set intervals, thereby always maintaining the necessary harmony between the year’s beginning and the seasons.
That this method of calculating is correctly used to bring us to A.D. 1914 from 607 B.C. is confirmed for us by the physical facts that have become manifest from that year 1914 on, in fulfillment of Matthew 24 and 25, Mark 13, Luke 21, and other prophecies concerning Christ’s second presence, in the time of the end.
● How many resurrections are there? Some say three, a first, a better, and a general. Others say only two, of the just and the unjust. Or, a resurrection of life and a resurrection of judgment. What is correct?—B. C., Michigan.
Actually, there are only two kinds or types of resurrections: a spiritual or heavenly one, and a physical or earthly one. The little flock of anointed “sheep” are raised to spirit life in the heavenly fold to reign with Christ, as Paul shows: “It is sown a physical body, it is raised up a spiritual body.” (1 Cor. 15:44, NW) All other persons receiving life through a resurrection will be of the earthly fold of Jehovah’s “sheep”. To catalogue the resurrections according to time or standing, as attempted in the question, is inconclusive in itself. For example, the first resurrection applies to Christ’s body-members and is first in time and importance. However, before the last ones sharing in this “first” resurrection have their instantaneous change from flesh to spirit it may be that some of the faithful men of old will have been resurrected. The resurrection of such men is sometimes spoken of as a “better” resurrection; but that is not a conclusive designation, since it merely means a resurrection better than those mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures, where some were resurrected only to die again in a few years. But all resurrections now and in the new world will be better than those ancient ones. Not only the heavenly but also some of the earthly resurrections will be resurrections to life, so that term is not limited to one group. So Scripturally viewed the proper divisions of resurrection are heavenly and earthly, and these two types are sound divisions and unaffected by any qualifying conditions of time or standing.—Acts 24:15; John 5:28, 29; 1 Cor. 15:51, 52; Heb. 11:35; Rev. 20:4-6, NW.