Questions from Readers
● What was the “reward” that the apostle Paul enjoyed because of proclaiming the “good news” willingly?
The apostle stated: “If I perform this willingly, I have a reward; but if I do it against my will, all the same I have a stewardship entrusted to me.” (1 Cor. 9:17) An examination of the context makes clear what Paul had in mind.
Throughout chapter 9 of 1 Corinthians, the apostle emphasized that he had not taken advantage of his right to refrain from secular work and to “live by means of the good news.” (1 Co 9 Vs. 14) Drawing on facts of daily life, the Mosaic law, and what Jesus Christ himself ordained, the apostle made clear that it was fitting to receive material support for the work of furthering the “good news.”
Since Paul, of his own free will, waived this right and chose to support himself materially, his reward was the joy and the satisfaction that came from following this course. With a clean conscience, he could point to his example of unselfishness in furthering the spiritual interests of others. No one could accuse him of making material gain for himself through the “good news.” He had not abused his authority as one entrusted with a sacred commission, a stewardship. That is why he could say: “What, then, is my reward? That while declaring the good news I may furnish the good news without cost, to the end that I may not abuse my authority in the good news.”—1 Cor. 9:18.
● Are there “four horsemen of the Apocalypse”? Or are there five?
The phrase, “the four horsemen of the Apocalypse,” which Spanish writer Vicente Blasco Ibáñez popularized as the title of a World War I novel, is drawn from the description in chapter six of Revelation or the Apocalypse.
There the apostle John sees in vision ‘a white horse and the one seated upon it,’ understood to picture Jesus Christ riding forth as heavenly king. Next comes a rider on a “fiery-colored horse,” representing war such as erupted in 1914 C.E. A black horse with a rider is third, and it represents enormous food shortage. The account then adds: “And I saw, and, look! a pale horse; and the one seated upon it had the name Death. And Hades was closely following him.”—Rev. 6:1-8.*
But how was Hades following Death? Was Hades riding on its own undescribed horse? Or was Hades seated behind Death on the pale horse? Or, even, was Hades on no horse at all, but following nevertheless? Actually, none of us can say with assurance which of these possibilities was so, for John did not provide that detail. Hence, from the account itself, all we can say with certainty is that John saw four horsemen—the four riders on the white, red and black and pale horses. There is no need to be dogmatic about whether Hades was riding on a fifth horse or not.
John’s description does, though, enable us to perceive what he considered more important than just how Hades was following. That is that those claimed by premature death—such as by war, famine and plague—are gathered in by Hades, mankind’s common grave.—Rev. 20:13.
For verse-by-verse comments on this passage, see “Then Is Finished the Mystery of God,” pp. 37-60.