The Bible Spread by Jehovah’s Witnesses
IT WAS toward the end of the Yankee Stadium United Worshipers District Assembly that a young woman, obviously a stranger, sat down beside one of Jehovah’s witnesses. The Witness made it a point to engage the stranger in conversation, who, among other things, said: “I’m a Catholic. I know I’m not supposed to be here, but after what I read in the papers I just had to come and see for myself. . . . For the first time in my life I have a Bible of my own”—the 1961 edition of the New World Translation. She had obtained it at the stadium, a complete Bible, of 1,472 pages, beautifully bound, on a contribution of only one dollar.
The incident is not exceptional. There are ever so many people today who will testify to the same: that the first time they ever had a Bible of their own was after Jehovah’s witnesses interested them in the Bible. No question about it, the Witnesses are zealous in spreading the Bible, and in the minds of the people they are associated with the Bible.
But is not that just the way it should be? After all, the Bible is the Book of Jehovah’s witnesses.* The Bible, in the first place, was written by more than thirty witnesses of Jehovah, pre-Christian and Christian. More than that, the Bible contains the history of Jehovah’s witnesses, from Abel on down, including our day, by means of inspired prophecy. And particularly since the days of Ezra have Jehovah’s witnesses been busy spreading the Bible.
In the time of Jesus and the apostles Bible knowledge was widespread among the people of Israel and so were copies of the Bible. Otherwise the Bereans would not have been able to verify by God’s Word what Paul told them. (Acts 17:11) So much were the early Christians a Bible-copying and a Bible-spreading community that they are given credit for the convenient codex-type of manuscript replacing the scroll manuscript.
The modern witnesses of Jehovah from their beginning have been spreaders of the Bible and of Bible aids. And for some thirty years they have been printers as well as publishers of the Bible, this activity reaching a climax with the release of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in one volume.
Do you appreciate this Bible? Have you noticed its many fine improvements over the first edition? That is what we should expect, in view of Proverbs 4:18. No other Bible translation can compare with it. Not only is its text in very readable modern English, not only is it based on the latest scholarship regarding the original tongues and on the latest archaeological discoveries, but it is the only Bible translation made by men who have dedicated their lives to Jehovah God and have a knowledge of him and his purposes, without which accurate Bible translation is impossible.
How does one show appreciation of this choice treasure? Merely by using it himself? Of course not! He shows appreciation of it by spreading copies of it among the people. But that is not all. For most persons it is a sealed book, as noted by Isaiah 29:11 and Revelation 22:10, which is our text for the month. It reads: “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, for the appointed time is near.” Not that one literally seals the Bible but that he could become responsible for its continuing as a sealed book if he did not offer people Bible-study aids and call back and help them to gain understanding.
Why is this so? Because the Bible is an organization book. It was produced by God’s spirit bearing along men of faith who were, every last one of them, associated with God’s organization—either the typical or the Christian organization. Jehovah is a God of unity and harmony. He wants his earthly servants united, and so he has made understanding the Bible today dependent upon associating with his organization, even as in the days of Jesus and his apostles only those who came in touch with God’s organization received an understanding of the Scriptures.
So let all of Jehovah’s witnesses accept the responsibility that goes with bearing the name of the people whom Jehovah used to write the Bible, the people whose history is found in the Bible, the people who have and are spreading the Bible. And especially let each one accept the responsibility to help those who show interest to understand the Bible so that they also can get on the road that leads to life.
For details see The Watchtower, October 1, 1960.