Questions From Readers
● Is it wrong to have a pet operated on so as to prevent its having offspring?—R. M., United States.
The law of Moses specifically forbade the Israelites to offer any animal as a sacrifice that had been operated on in this way: “A bull or a sheep . . . having the testicles squeezed or crushed or pulled off or cut off you must not present to Jehovah, and in your land you should not render them up.” While that law did not entirely forbid the Israelites to perform such an operation on their domestic animals, the voice of Jewish tradition indicates that this law was so construed. And that may well be, because the fact that such an animal could not be offered as a sacrifice might serve as a deterrent. Interestingly, in this connection, when some translations of the Bible refer to the ox as an animal for sacrifice, it is a mistranslation, since the ox is a castrated animal. The proper rendering is “bull.”—Lev. 22:23, 24; 7:23, 25; 27:26; Deut. 18:3.
However, what the Israelites did is not necessarily binding upon Christians, since Christians are not under law but under undeserved kindness. (Rom. 6:14) Man has dominion over the lower animals and, while he may not abuse that dominion, either by killing them for sport or causing them to suffer needlessly, it is for him to determine just how they can best serve him, dead or alive, with or without their reproductive powers.—Gen. 1:28.
● Does the statement at Ephesians 3:10 mean that God teaches the heavenly governments and authorities, the angels, through the members of the Christian congregation while they still are on earth?—B. F.
No, that is not what the apostle was referring to. Examine the context and note that what is under consideration is, not a knowledge of all the purposes of God, but his purpose to take from among men a group to be joint heirs with Christ in heavenly glory.
Beginning with verse 5, we read: “In other generations this secret was not made known to the sons of men as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by spirit, namely, that people of the nations should be joint heirs and fellow members of the body and partakers with us of the promise in union with Christ Jesus through the good news. . . . To me, a man less than the least of all holy ones, this undeserved kindness was given, that I should declare to the nations the good news about the unfathomable riches of the Christ and should make men see how the sacred secret is administered which has from the indefinite past been hidden in God, who created all things. This was to the end that now to the governments and the authorities in the heavenly places there might be made known through the congregation the greatly diversified wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose that he formed in connection with the Christ, Jesus our Lord.”—Eph. 3:5-11.
God created man a little less than the godlike ones or angels, so it does not seem reasonable that the angels would have to wait on men for instruction. To the contrary, Jehovah God has repeatedly used angels in teaching earthling man, and in particular to minister to those who are members of the Christian congregation with a heavenly calling.—Dan. 10:10-14; Heb. 1:14.
Then how is it that God makes known his greatly diversified wisdom through the congregation? In that what God does by, for and with this congregation serves as an illustration of the greatly diversified wisdom of God. This sacred secret is something for the angels to view with admiration and amazement, and so it can be said that through it these angelic creatures get to see the greatly diversified wisdom of God as they had not known it before.
What about 1 Peter 1:12? It reads: “It was revealed to them that, not to themselves, but to you, they were ministering the things that have now been announced to you through those who have declared the good news to you with holy spirit sent forth from heaven. Into these very things angels are desiring to peer.” This text refers to the same thing as does Ephesians 3:10. Angels were desirous of understanding the things the prophets of old wrote about the Christian congregation, but their understanding awaited God’s unfolding of his purposes, as at Pentecost, and not their being taught by the earthly members of the Christian congregation.
The point being made by Ephesians 3:10 might be illustrated in this way. By observing the starry heavens we are impressed by God’s attributes and so it can be said that through these galaxies, inanimate celestial bodies, God teaches us of his qualities. It is not that these bodies know something that man does not know, for they know nothing, but by their very existence they teach us. And so with regard to the angels and the earthly members of the Christian congregation. Through what God has done for the congregation and will yet do for it He is making known to the heavenly governments and authorities, the angelic hosts, his greatly diversified wisdom.