Questions From Readers
● John 21:22 reads: “Jesus said to him: ‘If it is my will for him to remain until I come, of what concern is that to you? You continue following me.”’ What does this scripture mean?—A. A., United States.
In this verse Jesus may have referred to his coming in miniature A.D. 70 for the execution of divine vengeance upon the city of Jerusalem, resulting in its destruction. John is understood to have survived that event of A.D. 70 and to have lived down to close to the end of the first century, at which time he wrote his account of Jesus’ life and also the three epistles or letters and the book of Revelation.
Then again, Jesus may also have referred to the apostle John in a prophetic or pictorial sense and he may here have foreshadowed the remnant of the body of Christ that has remained until the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ invisibly in 1914. It is this remnant, which has survived until the present time, that is witnessing the fulfillment of the book of Revelation. That is why it has been stated that this remnant was foreshadowed by the apostle John.—Rev. 1:10.
● Matthew 11:11 speaks of “a person that is a lesser one in the kingdom of the heavens” as being greater than John the Baptist. How is this to be understood? Will not all the members of the body of Christ sit in equal positions, or will some occupy higher places and others be lesser in comparison to them?—V.C., U.S.A.
First of all, let us note that as far as the kingdom of heaven class upon earth is concerned there have always been in it some that have occupied positions of greater responsibility and others that have had lesser positions. So at least in this regard there are greater and lesser ones in the kingdom of heaven class. Such is bound to be the case wherever there is an organization. In Israel, for example, there were ‘chiefs over thousands, over hundreds, over fifties and over tens,’ to assure smooth operation of the organization.—Ex. 18:21.
In the heavenly kingdom Jesus Christ will be above all the 144,000 as their head, and, certainly, compared to him they will all be lesser ones. Further, we read that the holy city, heavenly Jerusalem, has a wall with “twelve foundation stones, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (Rev. 21:14) Without doubt, the rest of the 144,000 will be lesser ones in comparison to these twelve foundation stones. As to other distinctions the Scriptures are silent, but in view of the picture given at Revelation 7:1-4, about the twelve tribes of spiritual Israel, suggesting organization, there may be said to be implied various degrees of rank in the kingdom of the heavens.