Questions From Readers
● When does probation apply? Before disfellowshiping, during it, or after reinstatement?—L. D., United States.
If a brother has done some wrong that merits disfellowshiping, yet the congregation committee feels that he should not be disfellowshiped because of his sincere repentance or other extenuating circumstances, rather than disfellowshiping him the committee might put him on probation. The committee would set the terms of this probation according to their judgment, having in mind the facts or needs of the particular case involved. If the erring brother complies fully with the terms of the probation for the period of time prescribed by the committee the probation may then be lifted and no disfellowshiping takes place.
If a brother is disfellowshiped, however, he would not also be put on probation. He is cut off from the congregation and the congregation has nothing to do with him, exercises no control over him outside the congregation, puts no restrictions on him outside in the world. For the congregation to attempt to do so would be contradictory to the disfellowshiping action, which means there is a complete severance of relations between the disfellowshiped one and the congregation. He is not accountable to the congregation, and the congregation has nothing to do with him, tries to exercise no control over him outside, attempts no regulation of his conduct outside.
If a disfellowshiped person shows sincere repentance and desires to be reinstated, the committee may reinstate him after the lapse of what it considers a suitable length of time. When this is done the committee may wish to impose some restraints and put the individual on probation. The committee may now do this, since the person has been reinstated and is again a part of the congregation, the congregation now having resumed dealings with the individual.
Hence, in answer to the question, a person may be put on probation without disfellowshiping or after reinstatement from being disfellowshiped, but it is completely illogical for the committee to try to establish probation over a person they cast out and do not even have dealings with. They only talk to him if he comes to them to discuss the matter of his reinstatement. To illustrate, a person in society may break a law. He is convicted and sent to jail. He has been removed from the community; he is not on probation when he is disfellowshiped from society and held in jail. But when he is released and returned to society he may be put on probation and have to live under certain restraints and report regularly to some officer. Or it may be that when he is found guilty instead of being sent to jail sentence may be suspended and he is put on probation, never being removed from society. So also may it be relative to the Christian congregation. One final point. The foregoing does not mean that every offender must be put on probation without disfellowshiping, or that he must be put on probation after reinstatement. All of this is left to the judgment of the local congregational committee.
● Why does the New World Translation render 2 Peter 3:10: “Earth and the works in it will be discovered”? What is the meaning to be conveyed? The King James Version says: “The earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”—K. S., Australia.
The footnote on this verse in the New World Translation shows why it is so rendered, indicating that the translation is according to the two oldest and most reliable Bible manuscripts available, the Vatican 1209 and the Sinaitic. The thought is that the earth, meaning the present visible human organization of things on the earth rather than the literal earthly planet, and its works will be discovered or fully made known, uncovered, exposed. The thought is similar to that expressed at Isaiah 26:21 (AS), which reads: “For, behold, Jehovah cometh forth out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” At Armageddon none of the vile works of this present wicked system of things will go undiscovered and unpunished by Jehovah’s invisible, heavenly executioners.