The use of a family name as well as a given name, which was not the practice in the first century, has also made it advantageous to use the expression “Brother” with the family name as is now done. It helps avoid both the extreme of undue familiarity and that of undue reserve. To address an adult by his given name today indicates a familiarity that may not always be fitting, especially not on the part of youth toward adults or on the part of strangers to one another. On the other hand, to use the formal term “Mister” would savor of a lack of friendliness, a reserve that does not prevail among the members of the dedicated Christian community. Therefore “Brother” and “Sister” appear to be the logical as well as Scriptural designations to use, since dedicated Christians view one another as members of a spiritual or religious family.
● How are we to understand Ephesians 3:14, 15, which speaks of “the Father, to whom every family in heaven and on earth owes its name”? Are there many families in heaven, and how can it be said that every family on earth owes its name to God?—G. G., United States.
The expression here rendered “every family” is pása patriá, and may be rendered either “whole family” (AV) or “every family.” Modern translations generally read “every family,” as does the New World Translation.
Of course, there are not families in heaven such as there are on earth, with a father over each family group and a wife, and the other members thereof being children of the parents, because in heaven they neither marry nor are given in marriage. (Luke 20:34, 35) However, Jehovah God is married to his organization and has children by her. (Isa. 54:5) Jesus Christ is espoused to his congregational bride and is receiving members to himself in the heavenly realm. (2 Cor. 11:2) The faithful members of the anointed remnant on earth are included among the members of the family of God, and the “other sheep” of today are prospective members of that family.—Rom. 8:14-17; John 10:16.
“Every family . . . on earth” appears to refer, not to every little family group living together, but to a family line that preserves a name. According to the law of Moses, Jehovah God believed in the preservation of the family line in that he always made provision for heirs to pass on the family name, as in the case of levirate marriage. (Deut. 25:5, 6; Ruth 4:3-10) If it were not for Jehovah’s creative power, there would never have been such families, each one bearing and extending down through time a name. Every family therefore owes its name to him, not directly, not as though he had given each family line its individual name, but indirectly in that he has made it possible for there to be families on earth with a name. In this sense every family, the one family in the heavens and the many family lines on earth, owe to him their names. They owe to him their existence with the opportunity and privilege of bearing distinctive names.
What joy there is in helping other persons to gain knowledge of the Word of God! That is the work that Jehovah’s witnesses will be doing during June as they offer to all persons the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures on the small contribution of $1 and then make return visits on obtainers to aid them in Bible study.
THE BIBLE, A LIVING BOOK
Though written centuries ago, the Bible is far advanced for our age, beyond anything that men could ever produce. Its wisdom comes from God and its teaching sets out principles for successful living in every known society. It is more that just a “best seller.” It is God’s Word to us in the day when God’s will is certain to be done on earth. Do you read it regularly? Get the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. It is a complete Bible with concordance, maps, helpful appendix. Only $1. Send today.
“WATCHTOWER” STUDIES FOR THE WEEKS
July 8: Why Be Baptized? Page 329.
July 15: Why Should Christians Accept and Discharge Responsibility? Page 335.