Questions From Readers
● How can one know for sure that the “time and times and half a time” of Revelation 12:14 amount to three and a half times?
That verse reads: “But the two wings of the great eagle were given the woman, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place; there is where she is fed for a time and times and half a time away from the face of the serpent.”—Rev. 12:14.
It is useful to be sure of the length of time mentioned there. Why? Because this information helps a person to establish the length of the “seven times” in Daniel’s prophecy of a huge tree that was cut down, as well as Jesus’ reference to the “appointed times of the nations.”—Dan. 4:16, 23-25; Luke 21:24.
The original Greek at Revelation 12:14 reads, “appointed time and appointed times and half of appointed time.” Now, what is meant by the middle expression, “times”? If it is two, then the total is three and a half. But if it were understood as four or ten, for example, then the total would be five and a half or eleven and a half. How does one know what John meant?
In the centuries before Revelation was written, the Greek language used a dual form, a grammatical form that indicated two of some thing. However, the dual form is not used in the Greek Scriptures, or New Testament; only the singular and plural forms are used. With the plural form a specific number could be added to indicate exactly how many of something, such as “seven heads.”—Rev. 12:3.
Greek scholars recognize that when the Bible uses the plural form without a qualifying number, it must be understood as meaning the minimum plural amount, that is, two. German theologian John Albert Bengel commented on this verse: “The plural, kairous, times, denotes two times. The plural number is to be taken most strictly.”
Hence, Revelation 12:14 means three and a half times. By comparing this with the 1,260 days mentioned in Re 12 verse 6 (as well as with Revelation 11:2, 3), the student of the Bible can see that the “seven times” in Daniel chapter four amount to 2,520 days.
● What were the “various baptisms” that Paul mentions in Hebrews 9:10? Did the Hebrews perform water baptism of converts?
No, the apostle Paul was referring to ritual washings that were required by the Mosaic law.
Discussing worship associated with the ancient tabernacle, Paul wrote: “This very tent is an illustration for the appointed time that is now here, and in keeping with it both gifts and sacrifices are offered. However, these are not able to make the man doing sacred service perfect as respects his conscience, but have to do only with foods and drinks and various baptisms. They were legal requirements pertaining to the flesh and were imposed until the appointed time to set things straight.”—Heb. 9:9, 10.
So the “various baptisms” were features of worship under the Law. For example, speaking about certain unclean animals, the Law stated: “Now anything upon which any of them should fall in its death state will be unclean. . . . Any vessel of which some use is made will be put in water, and it must be unclean until the evening and then be clean.” (Lev. 11:32) Similarly, as part of his ceremonial cleansing, a person might have to wash his garments and bathe. (Lev. 14:8, 9; 15:5) Priests were required to bathe, and things having to do with burnt offerings were rinsed in water. (Ex. 29:4; 30:17-21; Lev. 1:13; 2 Chron. 4:6) By the time the Messiah arrived the Jews had added many cleansing rituals that the Law did not require. Jesus related: “When back from market, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves by sprinkling; and there are many other traditions that they have received to hold fast, baptisms of cups and pitchers and copper vessels.”—Mark 7:4.
During the centuries when Israel was God’s chosen nation, non-Israelites who took up the worship of Jehovah did not have to undergo water baptism, but they did have to get circumcised. (1 Ki. 8:41-43; Acts 8:27) John the Baptist was the first man authorized to baptize others, baptizing Jews in symbol of their repentance over sins against the Law. (Luke 3:3) Water baptism, however, became a requirement for those accepting Christianity. It was a means of displaying that they had repented, turned around and dedicated themselves to God.—Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 22:16.