Questions From Readers
● If my brother in the flesh, who is disfellowshiped, and his family come to visit me from out of town, may I invite them in and even permit them to stay overnight if need be?—E. T., United States.
The disfellowshiping of a member of one’s relationship does not cancel the natural flesh-and-blood relationship. For example, disfellowshiping of itself would not break the marital tie. Hence, if a brother in the flesh who is disfellowshiped visits with his family on the basis, not of Christian unity, but of family relationship, then one would be entitled to receive him with courtesy on that natural earthly basis, not, of course, to have spiritual association with him and treat him as a member of the congregation, but merely to discuss family relationship and other mundane matters.
One has to be reasonable in this matter, and if the relative was from a different town and could not get back home that day, but needed housing for the night, there would be nothing wrong with an extension of courtesy in letting him stay overnight, merely because this relative and those with him were close to one by flesh-and-blood ties, although not by spiritual ones.
Of course, it would not be well to encourage frequent associations merely because of having a family relationship. This would interfere with the carrying out of one’s obligations to the Lord God and might endanger one’s spiritual health and integrity. The underlying principle mentioned at Matthew 12:47-50 should be borne in mind. When someone said to Jesus: “Look! your mother and your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to you,” he replied: “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? . . . whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
● In what form or manner did Satan come to tempt Jesus? Did he appear in the form of a man, or was it only a voice that Jesus heard? Also, how is it that Jesus would allow Satan to take him along out of the wilderness and, in fact, right through the city to and on top of the temple? Was Jesus taken bodily to the top of the temple?—D. A., Sierra Leone.
At Jude 6 we read regarding the angels that “forsook their own proper dwelling-place” that God “has reserved [them] with eternal bonds under dense darkness for the judgment of the great day.” The Watchtower, October 1, 1955, pages 594, 595, after showing that this darkness is a spiritual and not a literal one, goes on to say: “Their being ‘reserved with eternal bonds’ evidently means also that they are no more permitted to materialize in the flesh as before the Flood. This power of materialization was exercised by God’s faithful angels, including Jesus Christ, for thousands of years after the Flood, down into the day of Christ’s faithful apostles, according to God’s will and to serve his holy purposes. But the sinner angels were not allowed to use this power longer, for they would misuse it.” In view of this we must conclude that Satan the Devil also was prohibited from materializing in order to tempt Jesus.
As for Jesus’ permitting Satan to take him along to the battlement of the temple, it does not seem reasonable to place a literal construction on all that appears in the account of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Certainly there is no mountain from which one could be shown “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” So too, we must reasonably conclude that Satan did not literally, bodily, physically, take Jesus “along into the holy city” and station him “upon the battlement of the temple.” Such was not at all necessary for the temptation to have force.—Matt. 4:3-10.