Questions From Readers
● The April 15, 1951, Watchtower, page 233, said: “Fornicators are unmarried persons who commit immorality. Adulterers are married persons who willingly have sex relations with someone of the opposite sex not their legal marriage mate.” Yet Matthew 19:9 refers to the immorality of a married woman as fornication. Why?—E. W., Texas.
Legally and generally the distinction is made between the two terms as The Watchtower presents it, though sometimes fornication is used in a broader sense to take in all sexual immorality. Webster’s unabridged dictionary of 1950 defines fornication: “Illicit sexual intercourse on the part of an unmarried person; the act of such illicit sexual intercourse between a man and a woman as does not by law amount to adultery (which see). Fornication is sometimes, esp. in the Bible, used to include all sexual intercourse except between husband and wife or concubine; but it is usually distinguished from adultery, and sometimes from incest.” See Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21, 22; 1 Corinthians 6:9, NW; Galatians 5:19; Hebrews 13:4, NW. Under “Adultery” this dictionary states: “Sexual unfaithfulness of a married person; voluntary sexual intercourse by a married man with another than his wife or by a married woman with another than her husband.”
● Did Jesus, during his childhood, know that he was to be Messiah and realize that he had existed formerly as a spirit creature, the Logos?—C.R., Pennsylvania.
“Jehovah’s angel appeared to him in a dream, saying: ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife home, for that which has been begotten in her is by holy spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you must call his name “Jesus”, for he will save his people from their sins.’” (Matt. 1:20, 21, NW) From this Joseph would know that Jesus was God’s Son and destined to be the means of salvation.
To Mary the angel Gabriel said: “You will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you are to call his name Jesus. This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will be king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom. . . . Holy spirit will come upon you, and power of the Most High will overshadow you. For that reason also what is born will be called holy, God’s Son.” (Luke 1:30-35, NW) So Mary would know that Jesus was God’s Son and was also to be the promised Messiah to reign as king over an everlasting kingdom; though she, like the rest of the Jews, thought this kingdom would be earthly.
Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, knew Jesus was to be Lord, greeting Mary under inspiration: “How is it that this privilege is mine, to have the mother of my Lord come to me?” (Luke 1:41-43, NW) Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, was aware that a Savior had been provided, and that his son John was to prepare the way before Him. (Luke 1:67-79, NW) At the time of Jesus’ birth a number of shepherds knew he was to be the Messiah, Christ the Lord, for Jehovah’s angel said to them: “There was born to you today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” They publicized this fact. (Luke 2:8-20, NW) One Simeon had received a divine promise that “he would not see death before he had seen the Christ of Jehovah”, and when he saw the young child Jesus at the temple he acknowledged fulfillment of the promise and said: “My eyes have seen your means of saving.” (Luke 2:25-32, NW) Also at the temple was Anna, a prophetess, who acknowledged the child Jesus as the coming Deliverer.—Luke 2:36-38, NW.
Certainly these momentous things were made known to the lad Jesus, and it may be that he had this special relationship and obligation to Jehovah in mind when as a twelve-year old he said to his earthly parents: “Did you not know that I must be in the house of my Father?” (Luke 2:49, NW) John the Baptist also seemed aware of these things, as indicated by his hesitancy to immerse Jesus on the grounds that Jesus was far superior to him. (Matt. 3:11-15) So there seems to be no doubt that Jesus, during his childhood, knew he was to be the promised Messiah. But he very likely viewed his Messiahship as being over an earthly, theocratic kingdom. That was the accepted understanding of the Jews at that time concerning Messiah’s reign.
As Jesus neared thirty years of age and his knowledge of the prophecies increased he may have gradually received inklings that Messiahship was more than that, but it was probably not until his immersion and the holy spirit’s descent upon him that he appreciated that it was a heavenly kingdom he was to possess, and that he had previously existed as the Logos. The natural man Jesus did not discern these things of the spirit, but when the spirit came upon him the spirit revealed them to him. “The heavens were opened up” for him and heavenly things were discernible to him. (Matt. 3:16, 17, NW) John the Baptist apparently knew of Jesus’ prehuman existence, saying: “The one coming behind me has advanced in front of me, because he existed before me.” Since Jesus did not exist before John as a human creature, prehuman existence must have been here meant. But there is no indication that John said this before Jesus’ baptism; he probably said it afterward, possibly around the time when he said of the anointed Jesus, “That one must go on increasing, but I must go on decreasing,” since there is some similarity of thought between the two expressions.—John 1:15; 3:30, NW.
It was after Jesus’ anointing that he definitely knew of his prior existence as a spirit creature, and he testified to it. At John 8:58 (NW) he said: “Before Abraham came into existence, I have been.” Just before his death Jesus said: “Father, glorify me alongside yourself with the glory which I had alongside you before the world was.” (John 17:5, NW) So because of spirit begettal Jesus knew of his former existence as a spirit creature, but his disciples were often puzzled by such references and did not comprehend such spiritual things until their minds were likewise illuminated by holy spirit, at Pentecost. Hence since it seems that such understanding came by holy spirit, Jesus did not know about his prehuman existence until his anointing at Jordan river, though he did understand during his childhood that he was to be the promised Messiah.