Questions From Readers
● Why do the Watch Tower publications refer to only seven world powers, when there were obviously other powerful empires down through the centuries?—U.S.A.
The Watch Tower publications are not arbitrary in referring to only seven world powers. They do so strictly in a Biblical context and not in a general or secular way. The Bible book of Revelation specifically mentions “seven kings.” At Revelation 17:10 we read: “There are seven kings: five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet arrived.”
Manifestly, throughout the centuries far more than seven literal “kings” have exercised rulership. So the seven “kings” here spoken of must stand for particular kingdoms or empires, the sixth one exercising rulership at the time the apostle John recorded those words. The book of Daniel reveals the name of three of these empires—Babylon, the dual power of Media and Persia, and Greece. (Compare Daniel 2:37-43; 7:1-7; 8:20, 21.) All three of these great powers had direct dealings with God’s ancient covenant people, the Israelites.
With this clue from the book of Daniel, we can identify the other “kings” of the seven mentioned at Revelation 17:10. They must be great empires that had direct dealings either with God’s ancient covenant people or his new nation of spiritual Israel, composed of loyal disciples of Jesus Christ. (Rom. 2:28, 29; Gal. 6:16) Before Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and desolated the land of Judah, two other great empires exercised considerable influence over the Israelites. The first, Egypt, enslaved them for many years, and the second, Assyria, destroyed the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel and also devastated numerous Judean cities. After Babylon, Persia ruled Judea until Greek rule supplanted that of Persia; and later Rome dominated the Jews.
Accordingly, the five kings that had “fallen” by the time the apostle John wrote Revelation (about 96 C.E.) were: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece. The world power then ruling was that of Rome. As for the one to come, the Anglo-American World Power stands out most prominently among those that have exercised great authority since the days of ancient Rome. And history bears out that, during World Wars I and II, the Anglo-American World Power took strong measures against those who are spiritual Israelites.a
Thus while there have been other great powers, only seven of these fit the Biblical designation of “seven kings.”
● Is there any real objection to one of Jehovah’s witnesses “dating” a non-Witness who respects the Christian’s beliefs?—U.S.A.
The Bible does not comment about “dating,” as this is a modern practice, but it does contain guiding principles.
Devoted Christians do not consider “dating” simply as recreation. Instead, they look upon it as an aspect of courtship, a serious step toward marriage. As to marriage, the Scriptures encourage selecting a mate who is “in the Lord,” a believer, and not just a person who ‘respects one’s beliefs.’ (1 Cor. 7:39) Hence, one who dated an unbeliever with a view to finding a marriage partner would be acting contrary to the Bible’s admonition.
Then, too, while some unbelievers may respect one’s beliefs, they themselves are not following the counsel of God’s Word. This being the case, they may be inclined to take certain liberties with one of the opposite sex. Not being immune to the desires of the flesh, a Christian might yield to temptation when with an unbeliever. “Do not be misled,” cautions the Bible. “Bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1 Cor. 15:33.
Even if immoral conduct is avoided, an unbeliever is not a good associate. A person who is not a devoted worshiper of Jehovah God could not be a source of real encouragement to one who is. An unbeliever, while appearing to be a ‘good person’ and respecting the believer’s faith, still does not appreciate spiritual things. Lacking a spiritual outlook, he or she would not strengthen the believer in a determination to be faithful to God. On the contrary, since the unbeliever may be thinking of marriage, he would be encouraging the Christian to disregard God’s counsel about ‘marrying only in the Lord.’
It is therefore wise for a dedicated Christian to look for possible marriage mates only among those who are believers and who possess spirituality.—Compare Deuteronomy 7:3, 4; Nehemiah 13:26, 27; Malachi 2:10-12.
● Will those who are raised to life on earth still be imperfect and afflicted with Adamic sin, since Romans 6:7 says that a person “who has died has been acquitted from his sin”?—U.S.A.
Romans 6:7 reads: “For he who has died has been acquitted from his sin.” A consideration of the context shows that the apostle Paul was discussing spirit-anointed Christians alive at that time. While still alive, they had been baptized into Christ Jesus and received the valid prospect of heavenly life. In order to be anointed with holy spirit and accepted as spiritual sons of God, they had to die to their former course in life as imperfect humans, have their sins forgiven by God and have human perfection imputed to them.
But in making this comment with regard to anointed Christians, Paul was drawing on a natural and actual illustration. In its broad application, it could correctly be said that one who has died has been acquitted from sin.
Death, not the dying process in itself, is the full payment for sin. The Bible says: “The wages sin pays is death.” (Rom. 6:23) This means that when a person has died his sinful record no longer stands against him. And were it not for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and God’s purpose to resurrect the person, he would never live again. Still, he would remain acquitted from sin, as God would not repeatedly reexamine his case and then sentence him to other kinds of punishment for his sin.
This might be compared to the situation of a man serving a prison term for some criminal act. Once he has served his time of imprisonment, he is not repeatedly retried and punished for the same crime.
Now in the case of one raised from the dead to earthly life, the sinful record for which he was condemned to death no longer stands against him. Like one released from imprisonment, he has the opportunity to conform to law. Nevertheless, the resurrected one is still the same human. His death produced no change in him as to personality and sinful inclinations. By resurrection he did not become a perfect human, free from all effects of sin and imperfection inherited from Adam. He was not declared righteous because of dying. As in the case of an ex-convict, he must put forth diligent effort not to succumb to his fleshly weaknesses. He must start in, as it were, where he left off in life and take full advantage of God’s provisions for everlasting life on earth.
Because of the life they lived before their death, some people will have a stronger leaning toward wrongdoing than others. The Bible does, in fact, say: “There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) So those who were unrighteous at their death will be unrighteous at their resurrection to earthly life.
So while acquitting one from a record of sin, death produces no change in what one is as a person. Those raised to life on earth are the same individuals that died, descendants of sinner Adam. They are imperfect humans, just as were those raised by Elijah, Elisha, Jesus Christ, Peter and Paul centuries ago. The death and resurrection of individuals in the past did not transform them into perfect persons able to live forever. So with those raised on earth in the New Order, it is only their availing themselves of the sin-atoning provisions of Jesus’ sacrifice that shields them from death.
In the Bible book of Revelation, God’s provision for life, including the sin-atoning arrangement, is portrayed symbolically as a river of water of life. (Rev. 22:1, 2) So it is by ‘drinking’ from this ‘river’ that the resurrected ones are gradually liberated from all sinful tendencies and become perfect humans.
Not until they are perfect humans does Jehovah God view them as having come to life in the fullest sense. It is evidently for this reason that the Bible says of those raised to life on earth that they ‘do not come to life until the end of the thousand years’ of Christ’s Kingdom rule, during which rule the benefits of his atoning sacrifice will be applied to humankind.—Rev. 20:5.