Questions From Readers
● Was it not compromise on the apostle Paul’s part when he said before the Sanhedrin: “I am a Pharisee”?—G. B., Ethiopia.
Paul’s statement must be viewed in its setting, as follows: “Now when Paul took note that the one part was of Sadducees but the other of Pharisees, he proceeded to cry out in the Sanhedrin: ‘Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. Over the hope of resurrection of the dead I am being judged.’ Because he said this a dissension arose between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the multitude was split. For Sadducees say there is neither resurrection nor angel nor spirit, but the Pharisees publicly declare them all. So there broke out a loud screaming, and some of the scribes of the party of the Pharisees rose and began contending fiercely, saying: ‘We find nothing wrong in this man; but if a spirit or an angel spoke to him,—.’ Now when the dissension grew great, the military commander became afraid that Paul would be pulled to pieces by them, and commanded the force of soldiers to go down and snatch him from their midst and bring him into the soldiers’ quarters.”—Acts 23:6-10, NW.
The Sanhedrin knew Paul was not a member of the Pharisees. He had been very zealous as a Christian, and he could never have made the Sanhedrin believe he was a practicing Pharisee. It would have been useless to try it, even if he had wanted to compromise and misrepresent himself in that way. So it is in the setting of his statement that this matter must be viewed. His claim to be a Pharisee must have had limitations, and by examining the context we can determine what the limited meaning of his remark was. When he said he was a Pharisee he linked with that the explanation that he was being judged over the hope of the resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection, but the Pharisees did, and so did Paul. In this respect Paul agreed with the Pharisees. He was a Pharisee in viewpoint on the subject he introduced, the resurrection, and in introducing it he showed his position coincided with the Pharisee belief. In any controversy on this subject Paul was to be identified with the Pharisees rather than the Sadducees. Before becoming a Christian Paul had been a Pharisee, and after becoming a Christian he still was in agreement with them on some points, such as resurrection, angels and some points of law. (Acts 26:5; Phil. 3:5) So in these respects, within these narrow limits, he could associate himself with the Pharisees, and it was within this restricted meaning that his hearers took his claim, for they certainly knew he was no Pharisee in the sense of belonging to that sect, and it would have been useless for him to try to make them think otherwise.
Jehovah approved of Paul’s witness here given, and said Paul should give testimony in Rome also. Shortly after Paul’s appearance before the Sanhedrin Jehovah indicated divine approval: “But the following night the Lord stood over him and said: ‘Be of good courage! For as you have been giving a thorough witness on the things about me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.’” Hence in the face of such approval no man can properly charge Paul with compromising.—Acts 23:11; Rom. 14:4, NW.
● At Genesis 3:16 Jehovah told the woman that he would increase or multiply her pain in childbirth. Does this not indicate that there would have been some pain at childbirth even if the woman had not sinned?—G. V., Belgium.
Genesis 3:16 (NW) reads: “To the woman he said: ‘I shall greatly increase the pain of your pregnancy; in birth pangs you will bring forth children, and your longing will be for your husband, and he will dominate you.’” After she had sinned, Jehovah told the woman she would bring forth children in birth pangs. That meant pain for the sinner mother. So the promised increase of pain would indicate that fallen womanhood would undergo an increase of pain as the centuries passed, due to the accumulating degeneration and weaknesses that would cause increasing pain and ordeal. If this is the case, it would tie the increase of pain in with the sin that brought on degeneration in the first place, appropriately so. The nearer to perfection women were the less difficulty there would be for them in giving birth.