Questions From Readers
● In the new book, You May Survive Armageddon into God’s New World, page 223, paragraph 7, is the statement: “The majority of the bride class have never seen the Bridegroom.” This statement seems to contradict the first part of paragraph 14, which states: “The majority of the members of the bride class have finished their earthly journey . . . and been united to him at the temple.” How are we to understand these statements?—R. R., United States.
Paragraph 7, page 223, of You May Survive Armageddon into God’s New World is not contrary to the facts. It likens the Christian congregation in its travel through this world to Rebekah traveling to meet her espoused bridegroom Isaac, whom she had never seen. Peter, writing to Christian “temporary residents” scattered throughout provinces in Asia Minor says to them: “At the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you never saw him, you love him. Though you are not looking upon him at present, yet you exercise faith in him.” (1 Pet. 1:7, 8, NW) They had not seen him on earth, but Peter had and also John. At 1 John 1:1 (NW) he says: “That which was from when a beginning was made, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have viewed attentively and our hands felt, concerning the word of life.” The bride class continues down till today, nineteen centuries since Peter wrote, and so paragraph 7 on page 223 is correct: “The majority of the bride class have never seen the Bridegroom, yet they love him victoriously over this world and keep their virgin chastity amid this world.” If Peter was talking about seeing the Bridegroom glorified in heaven, then none of the Christian congregation, not even a minority of them, not even Peter, John or Paul, had ever seen him. For, says 1 John 3:2, “whenever he is made manifest we shall be like him, because we shall see him just as he is.”—NW.
The above paragraph is not discussing the resurrection at all. So when you skip six pages of the book and come down to paragraph 14 on page 229 you come down to something that paragraph 7 was not discussing. You come down to the finish of the earthly journey of the bride class, during which journey the majority of this bride class had never seen the Bridegroom in the flesh. (John 3:29) So paragraph 7 above and the fourth sentence of paragraph 13 on page 228 are not contradicted by paragraph 14, which now says: “The majority of the members of the bride class have finished their earthly journey and have ‘rendered their calling and choosing firm for themselves.’ By the ‘first resurrection’ . . . they have been raised to heavenly life in the likeness of their Bridegroom and been united to him at the temple.” This “majority” of paragraph 14 includes Peter himself; the “majority” of paragraph 7 did not. To avoid contradiction we must not take things out of their context.
● Did the apostle Paul fight wild beasts in the arena, as seems likely from 1 Corinthians 15:32 (NW): “If, like men, I have fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, of what good is it to me?”—M. H., United States.
The Watchtower, April 15, 1944, commented on this text as follows: “There is no reason to think other than that during the years that the apostle Paul spent in Ephesus he was taken by his enemies and put in the arena to fight with wild beasts and was miraculously delivered by the Lord, just as Daniel was saved from the lions.”
From Ephesus Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “It seems to me that God has put us the apostles last on exhibition as men appointed to death, because we have become a theatrical spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.” (1 Cor. 4:9, NW) There was a stadium in Ephesus and in its arena gladiators fought while thousands looked on. Sometimes men who were appointed to die were put on exhibition by having to face wild beasts in the arena, the sentence of death against them being executed in this way, while multitudes witnessed the gory spectacle from the seats of the theater or stadium. It is very possible that the apostle Paul was put through such an ordeal, except that he was miraculously delivered from the wild beasts, just as on another occasion he was delivered from harm when bitten by a viper, and just as Daniel was delivered from the den of lions.—Acts 28:3-6.
Many contend that Paul spoke figuratively when he referred to fighting beasts at Ephesus, claiming that he meant his conflicts with brutish, bestial men that opposed his preaching work. They say a Roman citizen such as Paul would hardly be thrown into the arena. Also, that if such an outstanding event as deliverance from the arena had occurred Paul would have mentioned it more specifically and Luke would have detailed it in the Acts of Apostles. There is a possibility that Paul spoke figuratively and that the beasts he had in mind were his human opposers.
However, mere silence on Luke’s part does not disprove a literal deliverance, and it can hardly be claimed that Paul did not mention it, in view of his words at 1 Corinthians 4:9, and more especially his later comment at 1 Co 15:32. He may not have given details in this epistle, because other detailed reports may have already reached the Corinthians. Certainly some outstanding ordeal was undergone by Paul at Ephesus and the Corinthians seemed acquainted with it, for Paul referred to this overwhelming experience without detailing it when he soon wrote again to the Corinthians: “We do not wish you to be ignorant, brothers, about the tribulation that happened to us in the province of Asia, that we were under extreme pressure beyond our strength, so that we were very uncertain even of our lives. In fact, we felt within ourselves that we had received the sentence of death. This was that we might have our trust, not in ourselves, but in the God who raises up the dead. From so likely a death he did rescue us and will rescue us; and our hope is in him that he will also rescue us further.”—2 Cor. 1:8-10, NW.
These words would certainly fit a fight with beasts in the arena and a deliverance therefrom by Jehovah. They seem too strong to describe or refer to the mob raised by Demetrius the silversmith, as some contend. Anyway, instead of on Paul the pressure then was more on his traveling companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, and on Alexander. Paul, though willing, did not even go into the theater, his disciples not permitting him so to risk himself. (Acts 19:23-41) Paul was not one to exaggerate the persecution inflicted on him. He mentions many ordeals in passing without even detailing them, among which were “near-deaths often.” One of these near-deaths could have been a fight with wild beasts in the arena at Ephesus.—2 Cor. 11:23-27, NW.