United Publication of the “Word of Life”
WHAT is this “Word of life”? It is the message that tells about the hope of life, that makes it possible for its hearers to gain life. As Paul wrote Timothy, light has been shed “upon life and incorruption through the good news” regarding the Savior Jesus Christ.—2 Tim. 1:9, 10.*
This Word of life had a small beginning some six thousand years ago. At that time man, by reason of his disobedience, came sorely in need of a word of life, of some hope of life. Jehovah God, as man’s greatest Friend, gave man hope at that time by the promise recorded at Genesis 3:15, which indicated the eventual triumph of righteousness and the destruction of man’s enemy. For some four thousand years God added to this Word until its completion around A.D. 98. Since then the Word of life has consisted of the entire Bible, from Genesis through Revelation.
Since the Word of life is the complete Bible, publishing the Word of life would be done by multiplying copies of the Bible and distributing them. The early Christians were great publishers of the Word of life, both as regards the written and the spoken Word. Then after many centuries of darkness Bible publishing was resumed with the translation of the Bible into living languages, the invention of the printing press greatly aiding toward that end. In particular did publication of the Word of life receive an impetus by the formation of Bible societies during the nineteenth century, which societies presently account for as many as thirty million copies of the Bible being printed and distributed annually.
But is such publication of the Word of life sufficient? No, it is not. For what will it profit a man if he enthusiastically begins to read the Bible after purchasing a copy, only to lay it down and forget all about it because of not understanding and appreciating what he reads? The fact is that the vast majority of those who obtain copies of the Bible today continue to conform to this old world, just as do atheists, agnostics and other unbelievers, showing that publication of the Word of life has been in vain as far as they are concerned. The conditions in Christendom bear this out.
For publication of the Word of life not to be in vain help must be provided in understanding its contents. It is not an individualistic but an organization book. Even as the Hebrew Scriptures were given to Israel, so the Christian Greek Scriptures were given to followers of Jesus Christ. In the days of Jesus and his apostles help was needed to understand and appreciate the Word of life. The same is true today.—Luke 24:32.
Concerning the obligation Christians have in regard to this publication of the Word of life, Paul wrote: “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.” One does not become an illuminator by merely placing Bibles, or Bible-study aids, for that matter, into the hands of the people To be an illuminator one must shed light, cause people to see. That means calling back on persons who have obtained Bibles or Bible-study aids, such as From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained, which is being featured during the month of November, and helping them to understand and gain appreciation of the Word of life.—Phil. 2:15, 16.
The same thought is implicit in the instructions to be “keeping a tight grip on the word of life.” This does not mean selfishly to treasure this Word by clasping it firmly to one’s bosom, as it were. Not at all! This Word of life is also called “the sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word.” This admonition takes for granted that the Christian is wielding the sword of the spirit in spiritual warfare and that he must keep a firm grip on it so that the foe does not knock it out of his hand and he suffer harm.—Eph. 6:17; 2 Cor. 10:3-5.
Important is it also that this be a united publishing work, for only united publication can present a clear, harmonious and inviting message to those who are of goodwill toward God. And this publishing is to be done regardless of circumstances and opposition. Yes, in the words of the text for November, the apostolic command comes down to dedicated Christian ministers today: “Preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season, reprove, reprimand, exhort, with all long-suffering and art of teaching.”—2 Tim. 4:2.
For details see The Watchtower, November 15, 1961.