Some Men Became Believers
1. What was the apostle Paul’s attitude toward declaring the good news?
THE apostle Paul was a great evangelizer! He was willing to go to the ends of the earth to declare the good news of God’s kingdom. When he was in Athens he got into quite a few discussions with the more learned men, the Epicureans and the Stoic philosophers. Quite a controversy was stirred up. “Some would say [of Paul]: ‘What is it this chatterer would like to tell?’ Others: ‘He seems to be a publisher of foreign deities.’ This was because he was declaring the good news of Jesus and the resurrection.” (Acts 17:18) It was not long before these men hurried Paul off to the judicial hill, the Areopagus, so that they could learn more about what he had to say. While Paul was standing in the midst of the Areopagus he said: “Men of Athens, I behold that in all things you seem to be more given to the fear of the deities than others are.”—Acts 17:22.
2. How did Paul give testimony about the true God?
2 As we read on through the 17th chapter of Acts, from Ac 17 verses 22 to 34, we learn much of what Paul had to say about God. Paul told the Athenians that they had an altar on which were inscribed the words “To an Unknown God.” Paul seized upon the situation to make his point, for he told the crowd that was surrounding him that they were unknowingly giving godly devotion to the “God that made the world and all the things in it.” This was the very One that Paul was now going to publish to them. This “Unknown God” that Paul worshiped does not need anything, “because he himself gives to all persons life and breath and all things.” Paul continues and says: This God “made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth.” These people could find God, for he was not far off so that he could not be reached. Paul pointed out to these Athenians that by Jehovah God we have life and move and exist, even as certain ones of the poets among them had said: “For we are also his progeny.”
3. How did Paul really stir up the people’s minds when talking about a judgment of the earth?
3 Paul really stirred up the people when he told them that the God of the universe had set a “day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has furnished a guarantee to all men in that he has resurrected him from the dead.” (Acts 17:22-31) That was something new! The men and women present to hear Paul’s discourse in the Areopagus certainly had something to think about. ‘In fact, all Athenians and foreigners sojourning there would spend their leisure time at doing nothing but telling something or listening to something new.’ Well, Paul certainly had something new to tell them, and some of them reacted favorably and became believers. But others, “when they heard of a resurrection of the dead, . . . began to mock, while others said: ‘We will hear you about this even another time.’”—Acts 17:21, 32.
4. What were the results of Paul’s preaching activity in Athens and in Corinth?
4 One never knows what impression the “word of the kingdom” will make on another’s mind, or on what kind of soil the seed of truth may have fallen. Will it fall along the roadside, on rocky places or in among thorns? On the other hand, the seed can fall on good soil and produce fruitage. The apostle Paul was made very happy. He saw fruitage. The Bible account tells us that, when Paul went out from among their midst, “some men joined themselves to him and became believers, among whom also were Dionysius, a judge of the court of the Areopagus, and a woman named Damaris, and others besides them.” (Acts 17:33, 34) So the seed that Paul sowed brought forth fruitage; in this instance, a judge, a woman and others. Paul himself had earlier proved to be fine soil, for, when the “word of the kingdom” was sounded down into his own heart and mind, he became a real preacher, a producer of a hundredfold. Remember, he established the Corinthian congregation and he wrote to them: “You yourselves are our letter, inscribed on our hearts and known and being read by all mankind. For you are shown to be a letter of Christ written by us as ministers, inscribed not with ink but with spirit of a living God, not on stone tablets, but on fleshly tablets, on hearts.”—2 Cor. 3:2, 3.
5. How do true Christians today show themselves to be like Paul?
5 True Christians keep in mind the command of Jesus: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) Paul certainly tried to do this in his ministry, and he had fine success. That is what all people who have come to know Jehovah and his beloved Son, Christ Jesus, are required to do now. Real Christians today, like the apostles, must help people to whom they preach so that such ones can understand God’s Word. They must be teachers and help each disciple or learner to get the sense of the “word of the kingdom.” Jesus said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) This, Jehovah’s witnesses are really trying to do. When they do make disciples it is necessary for these to dedicate their lives and be baptized in water so as to make a full expression before Jehovah and Christ Jesus and their brothers that they are going to do the will of God henceforth as that will is set forth in his written Word.
6. Does the discipling work stop after one makes his dedication and is baptized? Why?
6 But the discipling work does not stop there. Each one of Jehovah’s baptized witnesses must continue to be a learner. He keeps on studying God’s Word, the Holy Bible. He wants to observe all the things that Jesus commanded of his followers. This, of course, takes time. But we do not have to wait until we know all things before we ourselves begin the discipling work. Once we have learned of the wonderful things that Jehovah has done for mankind in providing his Son as our redeemer, and what he is doing through his kingdom, then certainly we should want others to hear the “word of the kingdom” too. We should want to implant the Word of God in the hearts and minds of others because we know the word is able to save one’s life. Remember what Paul told the disciple Timothy: “Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”—1 Tim. 4:16.
7. What is required of baptized believers, as shown at Pentecost and thereafter?
7 Thus the baptized believers who engage in the discipling work must go on bringing forth fruitage, some a hundredfold, some sixty and some thirty. Is that asking too much of a real Christian? When Jesus ascended into the heavens there were 120 baptized Jews dedicated to Jehovah who were ready to do the work Jesus started, and anxious to know what they should do. On the day of Pentecost all 120 of them were anointed by holy spirit to preach the Kingdom. There were thousands of others that had heard about Jesus and his message but had not taken a stand, and these had to make a decision. When Peter stood up before them and said, “Get saved from this crooked generation,” then “those who embraced his word heartily were baptized, and on that day about three thousand souls were added.” (Acts 2:40, 41) Think of the work that Jesus did in his day and of the fruitage that he brought forth! Think, too, of the apostles Peter, John, Paul and the others in the early church, and think of the fruitage they produced! When we think, too, of the fruitage being brought forth now, it is very evident that many are becoming believers. What share have you had in all this?
A GREAT CROWD BECOME BELIEVERS
8, 9. How do Jehovah’s people display their faithfulness, and as a result, how have others been affected?
8 During the service year of 1969 Jehovah’s witnesses throughout the entire world in 203 lands and islands of the sea have been very active, as shown on the chart on pages 22 to 25. All those who have dedicated their lives to Jehovah and were baptized in symbol of that dedication must display their faithfulness. This is evidence that the Word of God has truly been implanted in them. They are determined to put away all filthiness and that superfluous thing, moral badness, and they are accepting with mildness the implanting of the word, which they know is able to save them. The good that has already been done for them they now want to do for others. So Jehovah’s witnesses continue faithfully preaching the good news world wide.—Matt. 24:14.
9 As one reads the annual report that has been compiled by the Society from its branches around the world one sees a marvelous thing that has happened. Jesus told his disciples to make disciples of others and Jehovah’s witnesses have done that very thing during the past year. (Matt. 28:19, 20) Just consider the number of persons baptized (none infants) during the past service year of 1969 and you will realize that Jehovah’s witnesses have been preaching and teaching at all times, seeking to do the will of Jehovah God. In twelve months 120,905 persons made a fine decision and were baptized. They wanted the Word of God implanted in their hearts and minds just as it is implanted in the minds and hearts of all of God’s dedicated people. They have taken a decisive stand on Jehovah’s side. Henceforth they will do Jehovah’s will as set forth in his written Word.
10, 11. In what ways was the 1969 service year a blessing to Jehovah’s people?
10 This has been a most joyful year for Jehovah’s witnesses because Jehovah God has blessed their efforts so much in preaching this good news in all parts of the earth. One of the outstanding events of the year was the “Peace on Earth” International Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses held in North America and Europe in July and August at which 840,572 persons were in attendance. These, along with others who were not able to get to one of the assemblies, are determined to keep on with the preaching of this Kingdom good news. All are lovers of peace because they worship the God of peace. (2 Cor. 13:11) We still have work to do, and we find that, in the midst of their doing that work, Jehovah has blessed the efforts of his people so that a new peak in publishers of 1,336,112 was reached in the 1969 service year. Throughout the year there were on the average 1,256,784 ministers who could be counted on to spend time in the field ministry every month. Of course, these publishers of the Kingdom good news cannot all be in the work of spreading the message full time, but the dedicated, baptized disciples certainly are all ordained ministers. Out of all of these persons, however, there were 76,515 baptized ministers preaching full time as missionaries, special, regular and vacation pioneers. These spent anywhere from 100 to 150 hours per month spreading the good news of the Kingdom. The remaining number of persons, constituting a great congregation world wide, averaged each from ten to fifteen hours each month in the preaching of God’s kingdom and implanting the word of truth in the hearts and minds of other people.
11 In order to do this successfully it took a lot of time, and it is amazing to think that all of these 1,336,112 publishers together spent 239,769,076 hours in the preaching of the Kingdom good news. In what features of the ministry did they spend this time? Mainly in the house-to-house ministry, back-call and Bible-study activity, along with magazine distribution and public talks. What a joy it has been for these publishers of the Kingdom! They have indeed been striving to implant the word of the Kingdom in the minds of others. What a blessing for the people who have listened!
12. (a) How did the home Bible-study activity help people? (b) What does the Memorial attendance figure show as far as interest in God’s Word is concerned?
12 During the past service year 1,097,237 home Bible studies were conducted on the average each month throughout the entire year. Really, that is an amazing thing. Jehovah’s witnesses are truly anxious to disciple people of all nations and to help them get a knowledge of God’s truth from his Word so that they can take their stand on the right side, on the side of God’s kingdom, which is mankind’s only hope. On April 1, after 6 p.m., Jehovah’s witnesses, along with others who have expressed interest in God’s purpose, gathered for the annual Memorial of the death of Jesus Christ, and it is wonderful to know that 2,719,860 were present world wide that evening. Of this number, just 10,368 partook of the emblematic bread and wine, indicating that they were looking forward to being joint heirs with Jesus Christ in heavenly glory.
13, 14. Tell of some interesting statistics in literature placements and production during the 1969 service year.
13 There are many other interesting things about the work that Jehovah’s witnesses are doing. For example, in the field of Bible and Bible literature distribution we find many things to cause rejoicing in the heart. Jehovah’s witnesses fully appreciate that they cannot spend all of their time with people in their homes studying the Bible. But they can leave literature in the homes for people to read so that they can learn more about Jehovah God. During the past year, in more than 160 languages, Jehovah’s witnesses distributed 14,474,862 bound books and Bibles, 11,111,743 booklets and 186,257,878 Watchtower and Awake! magazines. Additionally, they obtained 2,131,667 subscriptions to these magazines.
14 In order to keep up with this wide distribution of literature at all of the Society’s printing plants throughout the world, of which they have large ones in the United States, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, South Africa, England, Switzerland, Australia and Canada, they were able to produce 27,936,033 Bibles and bound books in 160 languages. They also produced 159,395,598 Watchtower magazines and 166,356,756 Awake! magazines.
15, 16. (a) How do Jehovah’s witnesses feel about the present-day state of affairs, causing them to do what? (b) But before any individual can become a baptized disciple what must his attitude be?
15 The thousands of people who have dedicated their lives to Jehovah have been willing to spend time distributing this important Bible literature to aid in implanting the Word of God in the minds and in the hearts of others.
16 Jehovah’s witnesses feel the urgency of getting this work done under Jehovah God’s guidance. They feel the time is near at hand for the end of this wicked system of things. Upon seeing the perplexity of the nations, that do not know the way out, they rejoice to have a message of peace and hope for the people, one based on a sure foundation, the Word of God. Prophecies are being fulfilled now, and these are clearly explained in the publications of the Watch Tower Society. That is why Jehovah’s witnesses feel the urgency of telling everyone that he should become a disciple of Christ Jesus. During the years ahead we can assure you that Jehovah’s witnesses will make many more calls at the homes of the people as they continue to preach the good news of God’s kingdom and at the same time declare the vengeance of our God. Jehovah’s witnesses want to disciple people of all nations and teach them to observe all of the things commanded in the Scriptures so that they can be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the holy spirit. But before this can happen in the life of any person he must “accept with mildness the implanting of the word which is able to save your souls.”—Jas. 1:21.
[Chart on page 22-25]
1969 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLD WIDE
(See bound volume)
[Picture on page 20]
Following Paul’s speech in Athens, some became believers and were baptized, including a woman named Damaris and a judge of the Athenian Supreme Court