United Publishers of the “Word of Life”
“Keeping a tight grip on the word of life.”—Phil. 2:16.
1. Why is the “word of life” being published today as never before, and why was it provided?
WHY should not the “word of life” be published—today as never before? Modern civilization is threatened with destruction. Worse, the entire human family is threatened with death by weapons having a destructive power not known before our generation. Fear of another world war, which means war with nuclear bombs or with gases worse than nuclear bombs, haunts every nation. An international “cold war” rages that ranks with actual armed “hot war” in its aims. Peace is kept only by a balance of terror between the two hostile camps bristling with nuclear weapons. But does the human family deserve the “word of life”? Is the human family worth saving? Man’s Creator, Jehovah God, thinks so. God’s beloved Son, Jesus Christ, thinks so. And that is why Jehovah God in his love has provided the “word of life.” It is worth being published. It was meant to be published. It is being published, as never before.
2. (a) Is nuclear world war the worst thing that this world faces? (b) Who will emerge alive from what is coming?
2 Is it just because the world today is faced with horrible destruction as the result of its own wrongdoing that the “word of life” was issued from heaven? No! The mass of mankind today thinks that the worst thing that it faces is a nuclear world war; and the fact of the matter is that the world does exist now under the frightful menace of such a war. Actually, however, the world faces something worse. Come a third world war or not, the world will without fail enter into that worse thing. It is the “war of the great day of God the Almighty,” and from this the world will not emerge alive. (Rev. 16:14) But some members of the human family will emerge alive, with a righteous new world ahead of them; and these will be the humans who are now getting and “keeping a tight grip on the word of life.” Still, not because of our facing God Almighty’s war was the “word of life” issued, to begin with. Why not?
3. Why was the “word of life” not issued in the first place just because our generation faces such horrible destruction, and when and by whom was it first issued?
3 Ours is not the first generation that has faced death, so that only our generation should need the “word of life.” For almost six thousand years now, notwithstanding the efforts of the most advanced medical science, the human family as a whole has been dying, and uncounted billions of men, women and children lie dead and forgotten in the graves. So the “word of life” was first issued at the time when the need for it first arose. It began to be issued shortly after death invaded the human family. Death entered as an enemy of mankind. It never was a friend of mankind. It was caused by an enemy of mankind. The “word of life” was issued by a friend of mankind, in reality man’s greatest Friend. Only the Giver of life, only the original Source of life, could give such a “word of life,” and he is God the Creator.
4. (a) How was it that mankind’s enemy gave Eve the word of death? (b) Why is the earth today overrun with disobedient children?
4 The enemy of mankind was a downright liar when he said to the mother of the human race: “You positively will not die.” (Gen. 3:4) He was not offering to her for our sakes the “word of life.” He was handing her the word of death, for he was trying to mislead her, deceive her into disobeying the great Giver of life, Jehovah God. Her husband, Adam, had told her how to avoid death, namely, by obeying God’s command not to eat of the forbidden fruit, for God had said to Adam: “In the day you eat from it you will positively die.” (Gen. 2:17) God wanted his earthly son and daughter to keep on living in the garden of Eden, and to fill the whole earth with their family in human perfection and innocence like their own. God did not desire the earth to be filled, as it is today, with children “disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal,” just as the prophecy of these “last days” foretold. (2 Tim. 3:1, 2) It was because Adam and his wife Eve disobeyed their heavenly Father and Creator that the earth is overrun today with disobedient children.
5. How did God enforce the sentence against the disobedient Adam and Eve, and what did Adam bequeath to his descendants?
5 From parents who were disobedient to their life-giving heavenly Father, we could hardly expect children to be born who themselves were not disobedient to their earthly parents, not to speak of being disobedient to God as Adam and Eve had been. Because Adam joined his wife in a death-dealing course of action, God sentenced him to return to the ground out of which he had been taken and to become just formless, lifeless dust again. To that end God the Planter and Owner of the garden of Eden drove Adam and Eve outside. He prevented their sneaking back in to search for the “tree of life” in the middle of the big garden and to eat from it and live till now and to time indefinite. (Gen. 3:17-24; 2:9) Thus Adam bequeathed to us his children, not perfect life, but human imperfection, sinfulness and the condemnation to death. (Rom. 5:12) So later on a proverb came to be composed in the land of Israel, which said: “Fathers are the ones that eat unripe grapes, but it is the teeth of the sons that get set on edge.”—Ezek. 18:2.
6. (a) What has happened to the serpent used to mislead Eve, but how was the one behind the serpent sentenced? (b) What does that mean for him?
6 But what about the enemy of mankind who caused all this? Has he died like Adam and Eve? Not yet; but he will die in God’s due time and in a violent way. Of course, the talking serpent that was used to mislead Eve into eating the forbidden fruit died before Adam and Eve did. The invisible spirit who was behind the serpent to make it speak lies against God has not yet died, but he will. How do we know? Because he is Satan the Devil, nicknamed also “the original serpent,” and in the garden of Eden God pronounced sentence also upon him, saying: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He [her seed] will bruise you in the head.” (Gen. 3:15) For a serpent, that would mean violent death. For the “original serpent,” Satan the Devil, it symbolizes violent death when the Seed of God’s “woman” goes into action as the executioner for God his Father.
7. What questions as to benefits does the future killing of Satan the Great Serpent arouse, and who provides the answer?
7 Killing off the enemy of mankind at a future time may do some good for people who may be living on earth after his violent death; but of what good will that be to all the billions of people who have died during the past six thousand years and who may yet die before Satan the Devil has his life stamped out? His destruction in the future will prevent his doing further damage; but how will his future destruction undo all the damage that he has done to all the dead generations that lie in the grave? Jehovah God thought of that question too, and he provided for answering it for our good.
WHICH BRUISE IS FIRST?
8. (a) Which bruising comes first, and what does the bruising of the heel mean to the Seed? (b) How only could the bruised Seed afterward bruise the Serpent’s head?
8 Not only did he tell the “original serpent,” Satan the Devil, that the Seed of God’s “woman” would bruise him in the head, but he added: “And you will bruise him in the heel.” If the Seed of God’s “woman” were to bruise the serpent in the head first, then, of course, the serpent would not be alive to bruise the Seed in the heel. But what really takes place first is that the serpent bruises the Seed of God’s “woman” in the heel. What does this bruising of the heel mean to the Seed or Son of God? It means death. Death? Yes! But if the Seed suffers death first by the bite of the serpent, how could the Seed afterward bruise the head of the serpent? Only by being brought back to life by the re-creative power of God. That means by a resurrection of the dead by God’s power. This is not our interpretation of God’s cryptic sentence in the garden of Eden. It is God’s own interpretation of the sentence by the way in which he has worked out the fulfillment of the sentence.
9, 10. (a) In its principal sense, the bruising was of whose heel? (b) How was he the Seed of God’s “woman,” and how was he born to be the equivalent of perfect Adam?
9 In its principal sense, the bruising of the heel of the Seed of God’s woman occurred nineteen hundred years ago. The promised Seed was the Son of God. At that time there were no human sons of God on earth, since Adam had lost sonship for the human family. So this Seed was the Son of God from heaven. Since he came from heaven, his mother who produced him and from whom he came forth was also heavenly. She was God’s symbolic wife, namely, his universal organization of invisible, heavenly, holy, spirit creatures or angels.
10 This heavenly organization is married or officially joined to God in unbreakable relationship and subjection, just as an earthly wife is joined to her husband and is subject to her husband’s law. In this heavenly organization the promised Seed was the chief Son, the only-begotten Son of God, “the first-born of all creation”; and from the heavenly organization he came forth when he was sent down to earth to be born as a human creature. (John 3:16; Col. 1:15) In obedience to the commandment of God his Father he was called Jesus, which name means “Jehovah Is Salvation.” As no earthly man could be his father, Jesus’ birth was miraculously accomplished from the womb of a virgin girl. Thus he became flesh and blood, but he was born perfect inasmuch as his heavenly Father was perfect. (John 1:14) By becoming man, Jesus became like perfect Adam, a little lower than the angels over whom he had previously been the chief.
11. In serving as the promised Seed, why was it necessary for the Son of God to become a perfect man?
11 But here a question, please! For the only-begotten Son of God to serve as the Seed of God’s woman to bruise the Serpent’s head, why was it necessary for him to become a perfect man, lower than angels? It was necessary in order for him to fulfill God’s promise in the garden of Eden by being bruised in the heel, that is, to suffer death as a perfect man. In agreement with this it is written: “We behold Jesus, who has been made a little lower than angels, crowned with glory and honor by having suffered death, that he by God’s undeserved kindness might taste death for every man. Therefore, since the ‘young children’ are sharers of blood and flesh, he also similarly partook of the same things, that through his death he might bring to nothing the one having the means to cause death, that is, the Devil.” (Heb. 2:9, 14) Further, we read: “He who carries on sin originates with the Devil, because the Devil has been sinning from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was made manifest, namely, to break up the works of the Devil.”—1 John 3:8.
12. His becoming a perfect man enabled the Son of God to offer up what sacrifice, and for whose relief?
12 His becoming a perfect man having the same perfect life value that Adam had at his creation in the garden of Eden enabled the Son or Seed of God’s woman to “taste death for every man.” How so? Because he could offer up his perfect human life as a sacrifice to Jehovah God to take away the inherited sins of mankind. By the sin of Adam and Eve perfect human life had been lost to all of us their descendants. By the sacrifice of his perfect human life Jesus took the place of mankind in death, that all men who accept his sacrifice to God might have perfect life restored to them.
13. At his human birth what was the Son of God announced to be, and what was the “original serpent” prevented from doing shortly afterward?
13 When Jesus was born, an angel of heaven announced his birth to God-fearing shepherds near Bethlehem in Judah, saying: “I am declaring to you good news of a great joy that all the people will have, because there was born to you today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10, 11) The word “Christ” is a title meaning “Anointed One.” The coming of the Christ or Anointed One from God had been foretold long before this. The Jews called him the Messiah, this Hebrew word meaning the same as the Greek word Christ. Satan the Devil recognized Jesus as the promised Christ or Messiah, the promised Seed of God’s woman. Therefore Satan the “original serpent” tried to have Jesus destroyed as a “young child” less than two years old. But God protected the young child Jesus, and the wicked Serpent was not able to bruise his heel then.—Matt. 2:1-23.
14. (a) How did Jesus become Christ? (b) What steps did Satan the Devil take in trying to make unnecessary his bruising the Seed’s heel?
14 When Jesus grew to be a perfect man of thirty years of age he left his carpenter shop at Nazareth and got baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. Right after his water baptism God anointed Jesus with holy spirit from heaven, so making him the Anointed One. From then on the Son of God, the Seed of God’s woman, was properly called Jesus Christ. (Matt. 3:13-17) Forty days after that Satan the Devil tried to bring about the death of the Seed of God’s woman by having him perform selfish, ambitious miracles and tempting him with world rulership if he would recognize Satan the Devil as god and worship him as such. But Satan could not tempt this perfect man into sin as he had tempted the perfect Adam into sin against God, because Jesus Christ faithfully resisted these three temptations and told Satan the Devil to get away. (Matt. 4:1-11) Because Jesus Christ kept perfect obedience and did not come under God’s condemnation and sentence to death, it became necessary for the “original serpent” to bruise his heel—on a later occasion.
15. (a) How did Jesus proceed in harmony with his anointing and where? (b) What seed did the original serpent provide for his own use and under what false accusation did they have Jesus put to death?
15 Meanwhile Jesus Christ began serving God in harmony with his anointing and undertook to preach the kingdom of God as the only government of salvation for all mankind. He also gathered disciples about him and taught and trained these also to preach God’s kingdom. This took place in the midst of the Devil’s world, the Roman Empire being then the dominant world power. (Matt. 4:17; 10:1-7; Luke 10:1-9) God had predicted that the “original serpent” would have a seed of his own. The Great Serpent developed this devilish seed among the religious leaders of Jesus’ own people on earth. Before the Roman governor of the province of Judea they accused Jesus Christ of trying to supplant the empire of the Roman Caesars with his own kingdom. Under this false charge Jesus was impaled on a stake outside the city of Jerusalem to die there in public disgrace like a treacherous, seditious slave.
16. When was that, and what did God let occur that day?
16 That was on Friday, April 1, A.D. 33. Although Jesus was innocent, God did not step in to save the Seed of his woman from this cruel death. In harmony with his purpose announced long previously he let the “original serpent” bruise the heel of the promised Seed. (John 18:12 to 19:37) Apparently the hope of eternal life for God-fearing mankind died then along with Jesus Christ.
17. What other part of God’s Edenic promise was there yet to be fulfilled, and how did God provide for this?
17 God had let the “original serpent” bruise the woman’s Seed, just as foretold. Now it rested upon God to provide for the other part of his Edenic prophecy to be fulfilled, that the Seed of his woman should bruise the Great Serpent in the head in due time. So Jesus’ death must be reduced to a heel wound. In God’s eyes it was a sacrificial death, the death of an innocent one, in which death it was not just or right for innocent Jesus to be held. He was not a willful sinner like Adam for God to hold down in death eternally. Accordingly, at the foretold time, on the third day from his death, Almighty God raised up his Seed, his Son, from the dead.
18. (a) What did Peter say regarding the impossibility of having Jesus held forever in death and also about the kind of resurrection that Jesus had? (b) How did such a resurrection make possible the redemption of mankind?
18 Regarding this marvelous miracle one of Jesus’ disciples named Simon Peter said: “Jesus the Nazarene, a man publicly shown by God to you through powerful works and portents and signs that God did through him in your midst, just as you yourselves know, this man, as one delivered up by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you fastened to a stake by the hand of lawless men and did away with. But God resurrected him by loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to continue to be held fast by it. . . . This Jesus God resurrected, of which fact we are all witnesses.” (Acts 2:22-32) Jesus was resurrected, not as a man “a little lower than angels,” but as a spirit Son mightier than Satan the Great Serpent, because this same Simon Peter tells us: “Christ died once for all time concerning sins, a righteous person for unrighteous ones, that he might lead you to God, he being put to death in the flesh, but being made alive in the spirit.” (1 Pet. 3:18) In this way his perfect human life remained as a sacrifice and thus its merit could be presented to God for mankind’s redemption when Jesus ascended back to heaven forty days from his resurrection.
19. (a) Whose bruising has Satan been carrying on since then, but what does he himself now await? (b) Under what symbols was this action toward Satan shown to the disciple John?
19 No more can Satan the Great Serpent bruise the heel of the Son of God’s woman. It is written: “We know that Christ, now that he has been raised up from the dead, dies no more; death is master over him no more.” (Rom. 6:9) Though the Great Serpent has since been permitted to bruise the heel of the faithful disciples of Christ, Satan now awaits his own being bruised in the head by the resurrected immortal Son of God’s woman. In a prophetic vision given to the disciple John many years after Jesus’ resurrection and return to heaven, Satan the “original serpent” was shown being cast out of heaven after the birth of God’s kingdom in the heavens. Then Satan was shown being bound and rendered helpless by being thrown into an abyss for the thousand years of Christ’s reign, and after that being cast into the Gehenna of everlasting destruction.
20. (a) After his complete bruising, with whom will Satan interfere no more? (b) What can we now appreciate as to when the “word of life” was first issued?
20 In that order the complete bruising of the head of the Great Serpent, Satan the Devil, was to be accomplished; and never again was he to interfere with redeemed mankind living in restored human perfection in a paradise extended all around the earth. (Rev. 12:7-17; 20:1-10) From this we can appreciate why it was said earlier in this discussion that the “word of life” was issued by mankind’s great Friend, Jehovah God, shortly after death invaded the human family. That was at the garden of Eden.
WHAT TO DO WITH THE “WORD OF LIFE”
21. (a) From where is it that we get such hope-inspiring information? (b) All through the Bible’s sixty-six books, what wondrous story is told, from Genesis to Revelation?
21 But from where is it that we get all this hope-inspiring information? It is from the inspired Book of the great Giver of life, Jehovah God. It is from his Holy Bible, the one Book in all the earth that presents this glorious “word of life.” In the opening book called Genesis, which was first written in Hebrew, the Bible sets out God’s Edenic promise concerning the bruising of the head of the Serpent by the Seed of God’s woman. In the last book of this Bible called A Revelation, which was first written in the common Greek of nineteen centuries ago, the vision is written down of how Satan the “original serpent” together with all his demonic angels will finally be bruised in the head and thus be brought to nothing. All through the sixty-six inspired books of the Holy Bible the wondrous story is told of how God through his Seed Jesus Christ makes provision for mankind’s everlasting salvation from death and for their deliverance from bondage to the “original serpent,” Satan the Devil, and for their enjoying of eternal life in peace and happiness on earth under the heavenly kingdom of God.
22. What kind of Word may the Bible be called, and why rightly so?
22 The inspired Bible as a whole may therefore be called the “word of life.” Rightly so, for it is the gift to us by the loving-kindness of God, concerning which we read: “This was given us in connection with Christ Jesus before times long lasting, but now it has been made clearly evident through the manifestation of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has abolished death but has shed light upon life and incorruption through the good news.” (2 Tim. 1:9, 10) Aside from the Bible, there is no “word of life” today.
23, 24. (a) In order to benefit from the “word of life,” what must we do with it? (b) With what weapon must we fight for the life held forth in that word?
23 Now that we, by God’s loving-kindness, have this “word of life,” what are we to do with it? We are living in the midst of the dying world of mankind. We are witnessing the last days of this old system of things doomed to destruction in the approaching “war of the great day of God the Almighty.” If we want to benefit from the “word of life” and to attain to the eternal life in God’s new system of things it holds forth, we certainly have to hold on to the “word of life.” We have to live in harmony with it in order to prove worthy of such eternal life, and not be destroyed with this wicked system of things. To those who have become the spiritual children of God, the inspired apostle Paul writes: “Keep doing all things free from murmurings and arguments, that you may come to be blameless and innocent, children of God without a blemish in among a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you are shining as illuminators in the world, keeping a tight grip on the word of life.” (Phil. 2:14-16) If we do this, the “word of life” will not have come to us in vain. In a way, we have to fight for this life, and we have the means at hand with which to make a successful fight. What?
24 The apostle Paul likens the “word of life,” which is God’s Word, to a sword that accompanies the “complete suit of armor from God.” Paul says: “Accept the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word.” (Eph. 6:11-17) To keep fighting for life and to prevent the symbolic “sword” from being knocked out of our hand, we have to have a “tight grip on the word of life.”
25. (a) What personal experience shows whether we are to keep the “word of life” to ourselves? (b) Who personally told us what to do with the “word of life”?
25 However, does this mean that we are to keep the “word of life” to ourselves and be interested in only our own salvation, our own attainment to life everlasting? Is that how we ourselves came into possession of the “word of life”—by other possessors of the word holding it tight to themselves so that Jehovah God himself was obliged to come personally and deliver the “word of life” to us directly out of his own hand? In all honesty we are compelled to answer No! Jesus Christ, who is God’s means for bringing eternal life to us, told us what to do with the “word of life.”
26. (a) Jesus’ connection with our getting life is shown in what expression applied to him? (b) Did Jesus enjoy life to himself, and how did he describe himself as a means of life to us?
26 Jesus Christ himself is called the “word of life.” As the mouthpiece of Jehovah God he is called the “Word of God.” His official title in heaven was “the Word.” (Rev. 19:11-13; John 1:1) In a letter to the heirs of eternal life in God’s new system of things, the apostle John writes these words concerning the presence of Jesus Christ on earth nineteen centuries ago: “That which was from the beginning, 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, (yes, the life was made manifest, and we have seen and are bearing witness and reporting to you the everlasting life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us).” (1 John 1:1, 2) On earth Jesus said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world. . . . he also that feeds on me, even that one will live because of me.” (John 6:51, 57) The Son of God did not selfishly enjoy life to himself. He was sent and came to bring us life.
27. (a) What final instructions did Jesus give concerning the thing to do with the “word of life”? (b) Why is such world-wide publishing only right in itself?
27 As he himself was sent from heaven and came to bring us life that was really embodied in him, so he sends forth those who are possessors of the “word of life” to bring it to others. When giving final instructions to his disciples from the written Word of God, Jesus Christ said to them: “In this way it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from among the dead on the third day, and on the basis of his name repentance for forgiveness of sins would be preached in all the nations—starting out from Jerusalem, you are to be witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:46-48) “You will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon you, and you will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) The “word of life” was to be published unitedly by Jesus’ followers to the very extremities of the earth. Such publishing was only right in itself, because this word is a word of life for all mankind.