1, 2. (a) What unfaithful Christians did Paul mention in 1 Timothy 1:18-20? (b) What opportunities of theirs had they ruined?
AWAY back in the days of the apostle Paul there were dedicated Christians who ruined all their opportunities for a spiritual resurrection to heavenly glory and power with the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul indicates how this came about when he wrote this to Timothy:
2 “This mandate I commit to you, child, Timothy, in accord with the predictions that led directly on to you, that by these you may go on waging the fine warfare; holding faith and a good conscience, which some have thrust aside and have experienced shipwreck concerning their faith. Hymenaeus and Alexander belong to these, and I have handed them over to Satan that they may be taught by discipline not to blaspheme.”—1 Tim. 1:18-20, NW; Ro.
3, 4. (a) Why does that not mean that the reinstatement of these two men into the congregation was looked forward to? (b) Who, then, received the discipline in this connection?
3 This is not to say that Hymenaeus and Alexander finally learned a lesson and stopped blaspheming and were brought back into the congregation and rescued from Satan’s clutches. This could not be, inasmuch as those two dedicated and baptized Christians had thrust aside the Christian faith and a good conscience and had suffered the shipwrecking of their faith so that it went down into the sea of destruction.
4 By being disfellowshiped from the faithful Christian congregation these two men did not learn any corrective discipline. The beloved faithful congregation got the discipline, learning to avoid those two spiritually shipwrecked men and to have nothing to do with them, leaving them entirely to Satan, to whom Paul, with apostolic authority, had handed them over. By the necessary expulsion of these two men who had lost faith and a good conscience the loyal congregation were disciplined to fear taking the course of action of Hymenaeus and Alexander lest they themselves suffer the same ruin to their Christian lives and be disfellowshiped, handed over to Satan.
5, 6. (a) According to 2 Timothy 2:16-19, what was wrong with Hymenaeus? (b) Why did the congregation have to renounce Hymenaeus and Philetus, and how did these men teach the resurrection to be past?
5 The apostle Paul gives further information regarding Hymenaeus and shows what was wrong with him when he later wrote Timothy as follows: “Shun empty speeches that violate what is holy; for they will advance to more and more ungodliness, and their word will spread like gangrene. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of that number. These very men have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred; and they are subverting the faith of some. For all that, the solid foundation of God stays standing, having this seal: ‘Jehovah knows those who belong to him,’ and: ‘Let everyone naming the name of Jehovah renounce unrighteousness.’”—2 Tim. 2:16-19.
6 Hymenaeus and Philetus no longer belonged to Jehovah, but were handed over to Satan by expulsion from Jehovah’s Christian congregation. The faithful Christians had Jehovah’s name called upon them as a “people for his name” and they named that divine name in their congregational meetings and in preaching outside. (Acts 15:14-18) For that reason they had to renounce such untrue Christians as Hymenaeus and Philetus, as being full of unrighteousness. Those men had their own ideas about the resurrection. They taught that “the resurrection has already occurred” in their day; evidently this was by their teaching that the resurrection was merely a spiritual one, of a symbolic kind, and that the dedicated Christians had already had their resurrection and that this was all there was to the matter and there was no further resurrection in the future under God’s Messianic kingdom.
7. What was executed upon them at their death, and why?
7 Hymenaeus and Philetus had already subverted the faith of some members of the congregation by such resurrection teaching. Whether in that same connection they were teaching the pagan Grecian doctrine of the immortality of the human soul, Paul does not say. However, those conscienceless subverters of the faith of Christian believers were sinning willfully after having come to an accurate knowledge of the truth, even in connection with the apostle Paul. Hence when they died the “judgment of Gehenna” was executed upon them. They will have no resurrection.
8 Christians who let themselves be lured into heaping up material riches and into acquiring much worldly knowledge or “science” are endangering their opportunity for a resurrection and life in the righteous system of things to come. Not by riches and “science” but by the true Christian faith we are saved.
9 Making this point strong in the conclusion of his first letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul writes: “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires, which plunge men into destruction and ruin. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains. O Timothy, guard what is laid up in trust with you, turning away from the empty speeches [like those of Hymenaeus and Philetus] that violate what is holy and from the contradictions of the falsely called ‘knowledge.’ For making a show of such knowledge some have deviated from the faith.”—1 Tim. 6:9, 10, 20, 21.
10. (a) How do those who make a show of the “falsely called ‘knowledge’” injure themselves? (b) What are we therefore determined to do?
10 The would-be rich Christians yield to desires that “plunge men into destruction and ruin.” The Christians who seek after the faithless “knowledge” of this world show it off for glory or for worldly advantage, but they deviate from the Christian faith. None of these leave any basis for God to raise them from the dead by means of Jesus Christ. At death they are, figuratively speaking, hurled into Gehenna. (Mark 9:43-47) We, though, are determined not to copy them. We keep in mind the words of Hebrews 10:38, 39: “‘But my righteous one will live by reason of faith,’ and, ‘if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’ Now we are not the sort that shrink back to destruction, but the sort that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.”
WHAT OF UNBELIEVING MARRIAGE MATES?
11, 12. (a) What question arises about unbelievers who are the mates of dedicated, spirit-begotten Christians? (b) What does Paul say regarding this relationship, in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16?
11 Since the days of Jesus Christ many persons have come into close association with dedicated, baptized Christians whom God has begotten by his spirit to a heavenly inheritance. However, such persons themselves have not been influenced strongly enough to become such kind of Christians. Some such persons have been or still are husbands and wives of sanctified Christian mates. Some are children who have a dedicated, spirit-begotten Christian parent or who have both parents of that kind. Will such unbelievers have a resurrection? About such unbelievers Paul wrote:
12 “To the married people I give instructions, . . . yes, I, not the Lord: If any brother has an unbelieving wife, and yet she is agreeable to dwelling with him, let him not leave her; and a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and yet he is agreeable to dwelling with her, let her not leave her husband. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in relation to his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in relation to the brother; otherwise, your children would really be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbelieving one proceeds to depart, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not in servitude under such circumstances, but God has called you to peace. For, wife, how do you know but that you will save your husband? Or, husband, how do you know but that you will save your wife?”—1 Cor. 7:10-16.
13. How does the apostle Peter write in agreement with such counsel in 1 Peter 3:1-4?
13 The apostle Peter writes in agreement with that, saying: “In like manner, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect. And do not let your adornment be that of the external braiding of the hair and of the putting on of gold ornaments or the wearing of outer garments, but let it be the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.”—1 Pet. 3:1-4.
14. What questions does the death of such an unbelieving mate occasion, and what other fair questions should we ask as to this?
14 If, now, the unbelieving marriage mate dies as an unbeliever under such association with such a faithful Christian with heavenly hopes, is the unbeliever lost forever? Has the unbeliever died under the “judgment of Gehenna,” and will there be no resurrection of the unbeliever to the opportunity for life everlasting on a Paradise earth under God’s kingdom? Along with such a question, we are only fair in asking, How long has the unbeliever lived with the believer? Also, how faithful and exemplary has the believer been as a witness for the true Christian faith?
15. In the light of experience and observation, what pertinent questions may we ask regarding the unbeliever?
15 Experience and observation show that it takes some persons with certain backgrounds a longer time than it does others to be favorably impressed to take right action. So has the unbeliever lived long enough with the believer to get the needed measure of experience with the believing mate that his own personal case requires? Do a few years of continuing in unbelief before death mean that he would never become a dedicated believer if given a longer time of association? If he leaves his believing mate, has he walked out on his best opportunity for gaining salvation?
16. In taking such a course, did the unbeliever take the course described in 2 Peter 2:21, 22?
16 Even if taking such a course, the unbeliever did not take the extreme course described in 2 Peter 2:21, 22, which says: “It would have been better for them not to have accurately known the path of righteousness than after knowing it accurately to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. The saying of the true proverb has happened to them: ‘The dog has returned to its own vomit, and the sow that was bathed to rolling in the mire.”’ So, if he dies as an unbeliever after walking out of the life of the believer, has he forfeited all hope of a future life? Who is to be the judge in this situation? Whose judgment counts?
17. (a) To whom were those apostles writing their counsel regarding marriage mates? (b) When speaking of saving a marriage mate, to what salvation was Paul referring?
17 We must remember that the apostles were writing to the “congregation of God,” to spiritual Christians “sanctified in union with Christ Jesus, called to be holy ones,” to those who were given “a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance . . . reserved in the heavens.” (1 Cor. 1:1, 2; 1 Pet. 1:3, 4) Those writings were penned in the first century. God was then taking out from the Gentile nations a people for his name to make up the congregation of 144,000 Christian witnesses who will become joint heirs with Christ in his heavenly kingdom. (Acts 15:14) Consequently when Paul asked: “Wife, how do you know but that you will save your husband? Or, husband, how do you know but that you will save your wife?” he was most likely referring to salvation to heavenly life in union with Jesus Christ.
18. (a) Is there no other salvation possible for an unbeliever who dies as the mate of such a Christian? (b) Since when has the Fine Shepherd been calling the “other sheep”?
18 Paul was certainly not discussing there the salvation to life in human perfection on this earth when God’s heavenly kingdom converts it into a global Paradise. The question rightly comes up, then, If the unbelieving marriage partner was not saved by the believer to the only salvation to which God was then calling people of the nations, did this mean that he would have no later opportunity for being saved with that earthly salvation that is reserved for mankind in general under God’s kingdom? What if we say Yes to this last question? In that case we are judging the unbeliever who died without answering the heavenly call as being unworthy of any resurrection under God’s kingdom and of any opportunity for life on earth. However, down till recently, the Fine Shepherd Jesus Christ was not calling out and gathering his “other sheep” in hope of everlasting life on earth.—John 10:16.
19. (a) Is the salvation for the “other sheep” a sort of safety net for catching unfaithful spirit-begotten Christians? (b) Salvation of the “other sheep” results from what?
19 The inspired Scriptures show that God set a definite time for himself to gather together the “other sheep” for whom he reserves everlasting salvation on the Paradise earth under the kingdom of his dear Son. God’s provision for such “other sheep” is not a sort of safety net to catch all those whom he calls to the heavenly inheritance but who do not meet the requirements for it by a Christian course faithful to the death. Christians who have the heavenly inheritance reserved for themselves must either prove worthy of entering into it or else fail altogether without any other life prospects to fall back on, thus to enjoy eternal life somewhere else, in some form. No, God’s provision through Christ for the “other sheep” is something that God specially purposed for the vast majority of mankind. It results from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, just as much as the heavenly calling of the 144,000 joint heirs of Christ results therefrom.
20. Historically, when did the gathering of the “great crowd” of “other sheep” begin?
20 According to the historical facts, the gathering of the “great crowd” of other sheep began not before 1931 C.E., but particularly from 1935 C.E. forward.—Ezek. 9:4; Rev. 7:9-17; see The Watchtower as of August 15, 1934, pages 249, 250, paragraphs 31-34; also, as of February 1, 1935, page 47, top.
21. These facts have a bearing on our consideration of what questions?
21 These facts have to be taken into account when we deal with questions that are based on Paul’s counsel in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 with regard to unbelieving marriage mates, and also children who may not become believers, although, during childhood, they are “holy” children of a believing parent or of believing parents. The judgment must rest with God, who does the calling to the one hope or the other hope.—Rom. 9:14-16.
WHAT ABOUT OUR GENERATION?
22. What time period started in 1914 C.E., and how was its beginning marked in fulfillment of prophecy?
22 By the Bible count of time, the “time of the end” for this system of things began in the year 1914, fifty-one years ago. That date, predetermined by Jehovah God, was marked by the outbreak of the first world war, which was followed by the things that Jesus Christ had foretold in the year 33 C.E., namely, food shortages, pestilences, earthquakes. All those things were a beginning of the pangs of distress for the world of mankind. (Dan. 11:35; 12:4; Matt. 24:3, 7, 8; Luke 21:10, 11) During the pestilence of the Spanish influenza that swept the globe in 1918-1919 twenty million died, more persons than all the millions killed during the four years of the first world war.
23. In Revelation 6:1-6, how were the newly installed King and world war and famine pictured?
23 In Revelation 6:1-8 the glorified Jesus Christ gave a prophetic picture of the very things that marked the beginning of the “time of the end” from 1914 C.E. onward. In this vision to the apostle John, the newly installed King Jesus Christ was pictured as a man crowned and armed with a bow and riding a white horse, going forth to conquer. World war was pictured as a rider on a fiery-red horse and armed with a great sword, to take peace from the earth. Famine or food shortage was pictured as a rider on a black horse and having in his hand a pair of scales for weighing out food by measure.
24. According to Revelation 6:7, 8, how was deadly pestilence pictured?
24 Notice next how deadly pestilence was pictured: “I saw, and, look! a pale horse; and the one seated upon it had the name Death. And Haʹdes was closely following him. And authority was given them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with a long sword and with food shortage and with deadly plague and by the wild beasts of the earth.”—Rev. 6:7, 8.
25. (a) According to this, where did those dying thus in the forepart of this “time of the end” go? (b) Where is our question about the resurrection of such persons answered?
25 The question now arises, Will the people thus dying in this “time of the end” before the destruction of Babylon the Great and the battle of Armageddon have a resurrection later on by the power of God through Christ? The very vision to John gives us a clue to answering this question aright. Take note that what follows the fourth rider named Death (not “Second Death”) is said to be, not Gehenna, but Haʹdes. By this it is indicated that those thus dying by all those calamities in this forepart of the “time of the end” go to Haʹdes, which is the common grave of dead mankind in the dust of the ground. Many also died at sea, but this incidental item is not brought into the prophetic vision. Our question regarding resurrection of such persons dying in this “time of the end” is definitely answered in Revelation 20:13, which says regarding persons not belonging to the 144,000 heirs of God’s heavenly kingdom: “And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Haʹdes gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds.”
26. What spiritual class is not included in Revelation 20:13, members of whom have died in this “‘time of the end”?
26 Of course, many professed Christians died in this “time of the end” since 1914, who were called to the heavenly kingdom but who turned unfaithful and failed to gain the heavenly inheritance. These would not be included among those given up by the sea, death and Haʹdes. (Rev. 20:13) Such losers of the heavenly inheritance would be the dedicated, baptized Christians pictured by the “evil slave” or by the “wicked and sluggish slave” with the one talent unused, as foretold in Matthew 24:48-51 and Mt 25:18, 24-30. At the death of these unfaithful disciples of Jesus Christ they go into the symbolical Gehenna, in which Almighty God destroys both body and soul. (Matt. 10:28) Thus there is no resurrection of these when the sea, death and Haʹdes give up the earthly dead in them under God’s kingdom.
AT THE EXECUTION OF GOD’S JUDGMENT
27. When and how will Babylon the Great be executed, and what about the future of those then executed with her?
27 However, at the close of the “time of the end” Jehovah God by means of his Rider on the white horse will begin to execute his adverse judgment upon the nations and peoples. Babylon the Great will be destroyed, and then the “war of the great day of God the Almighty,” or, Armageddon, will be fought. (Rev. 16:13-16; 17:1-6, 14) Jehovah God will cause the political powers of earth to turn against Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. Thus Revelation 17:16 will undergo fulfillment: “And the ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire.” That means her everlasting destruction with no resurrection or restoration possible. Those religious persons who are then executed with her will be everlastingly destroyed with her, because they refused to obey the divine call: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.”—Rev. 18:1-4.
28, 29. What does Revelation 19:19-21 show as to the disposal of the fighters slain at Armageddon?
28 That the Armageddon fighters against God’s anointed King of kings will have no burial in commemorative graves or memorial tombs is proved by the battle description written by the apostle John in these words:
29 “And I saw the wild beast [Satan’s earth-wide political system] and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage the war with the one seated on the horse and with his army. And the wild beast was caught, and along with it the false prophet [the leading political spokesman, the Anglo-American World Power] that performed in front of it the signs with which he misled those who received the mark of the wild beast and those who render worship to its image. While still alive, they both [the wild beast and the false prophet] were hurled into the fiery lake that burns with sulphur. But the rest [the kings of the earth and their armies and their attendants, free and slave] were killed off with the long sword of the one seated on the horse [the King of kings], which sword proceeded out of his mouth. And all the birds were filled from the fleshy parts of them [because the bodies of these dead ones were left unburied on the battlefield at Armageddon].”—Rev. 19:19-21.
30. What does the “long sword” out of the King’s mouth picture, and where do those executed by it go?
30 The “long sword” proceeding out of the mouth of the King of kings pictures his authority and power to order the execution of all opposers with a violent death. Kings, military commanders, cavalry horse riders, freemen, slaves, small ones and great ones, all those who are part of this sinful world at the battle of Har–Magedon will be executed as opposers of God’s Messianic kingdom. Will they go down to Haʹdes or Sheol to join ancient Egypt, Elam, Assyria, Sidon and others? No! They will be everlastingly destroyed, wiped out of existence forever.—2 Thess. 1:7-9.
31. How is their everlasting destruction pictured, and what will they therefore not have?
31 This everlasting destruction is pictured in the fact that they are given no burial, but are left on the battlefield like dung, like putrefying organic matter for birds of offal to feast upon, at the invitation of God’s angel “standing in the sun.” (Rev. 19:17, 18) That this gory feast of such birds acting as scavengers may be pictured, the kings of the earth and their armies and attendants are not pictured as being “hurled into the fiery lake that burns with sulphur” along with the wild beast and the false prophet. But neither is it said that Haʹdes or Sheol claims them. Instead, they become like those criminals whose dead bodies were cast into Gehenna for the maggots to feed on their fleshy parts. (Mark 9:43-48) They are executed by Jehovah God through his executional officer, Jesus Christ, at Armageddon, and for this reason they will have no resurrection from the dead.
Praise Jah, you people! . . . I will praise Jehovah during my lifetime. I will make melody to my God as long as I am. Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs. His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish. Happy is the one who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in Jehovah his God, . . . the One keeping trueness to time indefinite.—Ps. 146:1-6.