Online Commentaries of the Book of Revelation

Southern Wisconsin Ecclesia Revelation Notes — We could not find a PDF of this online, so we uploaded the PDF version from the Bible Students Library DVD. If the authors object to this, please let us know and we will remove it. However, although we do not agree with all that is in it, this commentary does come to closest we have found to our own conclusions, so we wanted to make sure that it is included in this list.

Notes on The Revelation of Jesus Christ – Anton Frey

Short Exposition on Revelation, A — T.E. Patmos

Hollister, William J. — Notes on the Book of Revelation

Loomis, Ludlow — Revelation Notes

New Albany — Notebook and Study Records in Revelation

Streeter, R.E. – The Revelation of Jesus Christ

Some Other Studies Online:

How To Study Revelation and Have it Make Sense

Revelation for the End of the Gospel Age

Seven Churches of Revelation – Charles Redekker

The Beast: Commentary on Revelation 13 & 17

Some Thoughts on Revelation

Books

The keys of Revelation: Jesus testimony — (By Frank Shallieu) We do not necessarily agree with all of the author’s conclusions, but we have found this work to be helpful in our studies of the book of Revelation.

Mankind’s Coming Day of Judgment

“[God] has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead.” — Acts 17:31

(1) The traditional church teaches a very vague idea about the day of judgment. This traditional view would have us believe that when Christ returns he will sit upon a great white throne. Then he will summon saint and sinner in rank and file before him to be judged. Amidst great convulsions of nature earthquakes, opening graves, rending rocks and falling mountains, the trembling sinners will be brought from the depths of everlasting woe to hear their sins rehearsed. Then they are once again returned to an eternal and merciless doom. The saints, according to the prevailing theory, will be brought from heaven to witness the misery and despair of the condemned, to hear again the decision in their own cases, and to return. This theory holds that all receive their sentence at death. The final judgment, often styled the “general judgment”, is nothing more than a repetition of that first judgment, but for no conceivable purpose, since they claim that a decision which is final and unalterable is rendered at death. The entire time supposed to be assigned to this stupendous work of judging billions is a twenty-four hour day.

(2) This popular view is a very crude conception. It is entirely out of harmony with the inspired Word. It is drawn from an inaccurate interpretation of our Lord’s parable of the sheep and goats. (Matthew 25:31-46) It illustrates the absurdity of attempting to force a literal interpretation upon figurative language. A parable is never an exact statement, but merely an illustration of a truth by something which is in many respects like it. If this parable were a literal statement of the manner in which the judgment will be conducted, it would apply to literal sheep and goats, just it reads, and not to mankind at all. Let us now look at a more scriptural as well as a more reasonable view of the work and the result of the great Judgment Day which God has appointed. With the true reasonable and scriptural conclusions all parables and figures should and do agree.

(3) The term judgment often signifies more than simply the rendering of a verdict. It includes the idea of a trial, as well as a decision based upon that trial. And this is true not only of the English word judgment, but also of the Greek word, krisis, from which it is translated. Thus Vine defines krisis is the way: (a) denotes “the process of investigation, the act of distinguishing and separating”; hence “a judging, a passing of judgment upon a person or thing”; it has a variety of meanings, such as judicial authority, John 5:22, 27; justice, Acts 8:33; James 2:13; a tribunal, Matthew 5:21-22; a trial, John 5:24; 2 Pet. 2:4; a judgment, 2 Peter 2:11; Jude 9; by metonymy, the standard of judgment, just dealing, Matthew 12:18, 20; 23:23; Luke 11:42; divine judgment executed, 2 Thessalonians 1:5; Revelation 16:7.

(4) Usually the word day signifies a 24-hour period. However, both in the scriptures as well as in common usage, it is often used to denote any definite or special period of time. Thus, for instance, we speak of Noah’s day, Luther’s day, Washington’s day. Likewise, in the Bible the entire time of creation is called a day “the day” that Jehovah God made the earth and the heavens.” (Genesis 2:4). In reality it was a long, definite period of time. Also we read of “the day of the trial in the wilderness” forty years (Hebrews 3:8,9), “the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Additionally, we read of the “day of vengeance.” (Isaiah 63:4) “day of wrath,” (Proverbs 11:4; Zephaniah 1:15) and “day of trouble”. (Isaiah 22:5; Zephaniah 1:15) These terms are applied to a period of time in the close of the Jewish Age and to a similar period of trouble in the end of the Good News Age. Further, we read of the “day of Christ,” (Philippians 1:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:2) the “day of judgment,” (Matthew 10:15) and “the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10) terms applicable to the Millennial Age. The same period is spoken of the “last day” in which believers are to be raised to rule with Jesus, and in which unbelievers are to be raised for judgment. (John 6:39,40,44,54; 11:24; 12:47,48) During this 1,000 years Messiah will reign over, rule and judge the world in righteousness. He will grant trial as well as render sentence. Of that period it is written that God will judge the world in righteousness, and “in his times he will show who is that blessed and only potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords. (Acts 17:31; 1 Timothy 6:15) It is only because of tradition without further investigation that many suppose that the day of judgment must be twelve or twenty-four hours. Certainly all must recognize the wider meaning of the word day in other similar cases. Therefore, we also conclude that the day of judgment is not referring to a twenty-four hour day.

(5) We will be presenting scriptures that speak of that great judgment or trial day yet future. We will show from the scriptures that the masses of mankind are to have their complete trial and final sentence in that day. We will also present scriptures that show there have been other judgment days, during which certain elect classes have been on trial.

(6) The first great judgment [trial or sentence] was at the beginning, in Eden, when the whole human race, as represented in its head, Adam, stood on trial before God. The result of that trial was the verdict guilty, disobedient, unworthy of life. The penalty inflicted was death “Dying you must die.” (Genesis 2:17, see margin in King James Version) And so “in Adam all are dying.” (1 Corinthians 15:22) That trial time in Eden was the worlds first judgment day, and the decision of the Judge (Jehovah) has ever since been enforced.

(7) “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18) It may be seen in every funeral procession. Every tomb is a witness to it. It is felt in every ache and pain we experience all of which are results of the first trial and sentence the righteous sentence of God. We are unworthy of life and blessings originally provided for man when obedient and in Gods likeness. — Romans 1:31.

(8) But mankind are to be recovered from the sentence of that first trial by the one sacrifice for all, which the great Redeemer provides. (Romans 8:22; 5:18) All are to be rescued from the grave and from the sentence of death destruction. (Hosea 13:14; Revelation 20:12,13) Because of this redemption, death is no longer to be considered “death” in the full, everlasting sense of the word, but rather a temporary sleep. (John 11:11-13) In the Millennial morning all will be awakened by the Life-giver who redeemed all. — John 5:28,29.

(9) Only the true disciples of Jesus and the faithful servants of old are yet in any sense released or escaped from this original sentence and penalty. (2 Peter 1:4; Ephesians 2:3-5; Romans 5:8-11; Matthew 22:32) Their escape is not yet actual, but only so reckoned by faith. “We are saved by hope” only. (Romans 8:24) Their actual release from this death penalty (incurred in Adam and escaped by getting into the Anointing of Jesus blood) will not be fully experienced until the resurrection morning. Then they will be satisfied to awaken in the likeness of God and Jesus. (Psalm 17:15; Genesis 1:26) Those who have come to a knowledge of God’s gracious plan in the Messiah have reckonedly “escaped the corruption that is [still] upon the world.” (2 Peter 1:4) Does this prove that others will have no future hope of escape? No, not at all. Rather it proves the opposite. Those now saved are the first-fruits of Gods creatures to receive this escape. (Romans 8:23) Their escape from death in Adam to life in Christ is but a foretaste of the deliverance of whoever wills to be delivered from the bondage of corruption [sin and death] to the liberty of life proper to all who God will recognize as sons. (Romans 8:21) All who will may be delivered from death to life, regardless of the distinctions God has provided for his sons on different planes of being. The present age is the trial-day for life or death for those who are being called to various ruling positions in the Kingdom.

(10) Thus God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world. How can this be? Has God changed his mind? Has he concluded that his decision in the trial of the first man and the general sentence were unjust, too severe, that he now concludes to judge the world individually? No. Were such the case, we would not have any better guarantee of a just decision in the future trial than in the past. It is not that God considers his decision in the first judgment unjust. Rather, he has provided a redemption from the penalty of the first judgment. Thus he could grant another judgment (trial) under more favorable conditions to the entire race all having then had experience with sin and its results. God has not changed one iota from his original purpose, which he formed before the world began. (Isaiah 45:18; 46:9-11; 55:11) He distinctly informs us that he does not change, and that he will by no means clear the guilty. (Malachi 3:6; Isaiah 55:11, Exodus 34:7) He will exact the full penalty which he justly pronounced.

(11) But note this! that full penalty has been provided by the Redeemer or substitute whom God himself provided. Jesus Christ, who, by the grace [unmerited favor] of God, tasted death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9) Our Lord provided a ransom for Adam’s race with his own life. Therefore he can justly give a new offer of life to them all. This offer to the his disciples is under the covenant by Jesus’ sacrifice, by which receive powers of the age to come as firstfruits of creatures to receive life. (Psalm 50:5; Galatians 3:14-17, 26-29; Hebrews 6:5; James 1:18) The world will receive the offer under the New Covenant in the age to come. — Romans 14:9; Hebrews 10:16; Jeremiah 31:31.

(12) We are further informed that when God gives the world this individual trial, it will be under Christ as Judge, whom Jehovah will thus honor because of his obedience even to the point of death for our redemption. God has highly exalted him, giving a name that above every name. (Philippians 2:9) He is therefore a Prince and a Savior. (Acts 5:31) He will be able to recover from death and grant judgment to all whom he purchased with his own precious blood. (1 Peter 1:18,19) God has committed all judgment to the Son, and has given him all power in heaven and in earth. — John 5:22.

(13) It is, then, the highly exalted, glorified Christ, who will be the Judge of the world in its promised future trial. And it is Jehovah himself who has appointed him to that office, for that very purpose. And what great love and concern Jesus has shown for the world by giving his life as its ransom-price! (John 3:17; 12:47,48) Since such are the plain declarations of the Scriptures, there is nothing to dread, but on the contrary there is great cause for rejoicing on the part of all, as they look forward to the Judgment Day. (Isaiah 35:10) Indeed, it is this day that world of mankind is ignorantly awaiting while in its present bondage of corruption. (Romans 8:19-22) The personal attributes of the Judge is sufficient guarantee that the judgment will be just and merciful, and with due consideration for the infirmities of all, until the willing and obedient are brought back to the original perfection lost in Eden.

(14) A judge, in ancient times, was one who executed justice and relived the oppressed. Note, for instance, how, when under oppression by their enemies because of transgression against Jehovah, Israel was time and again released blessings by the raising up of judges. Thus we read: “When the children of Israel cried to Jehovah, Jehovah raised up a savior to the children of Israel, who saved them . . . . The Spirit of Jehovah came on him, and he judged Israel; and he went out to war . . . . and his hand prevailed. . . . The land had rest forty years.” (Judges 3:9-11) So, though the world has long been under the power and oppression of the adversary, Satan, yet shortly he who pays for the sins of all with his own precious blood will take his great power and reign. He will deliver and judge those whom he so loved as to redeem. With this conclusion all the prophetic declarations agree. It is written: “He will judge your people with righteousness, And your poor with justice.” — Psalm 72:2.

(15) This coming judgment will be on exactly the same principles as the first. The same law of obedience will be presented, with the same reward of life, and the same penalty of death. (Acts 3:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9) And as the first trial had a beginning, progressed, and culminated with a sentence, so also will the second. The sentence will be life to the righteous, and death to the unrighteous. The second trial will be more favorable than the first, because the experience gained under the results of the first trial. Unlike the first trial, the second trial will be one in which every man will stand the test for himself alone, and not for another. None will then die because of Adam’s sin, or because of inherited imperfections. It will no more be said: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But everyone shall die for his own iniquity: every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.” “The soul who sins, he shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4; Jeremiah 31:29,30) And it will be true of the world then, as it is of the disciples of Jesus now, that a man will not be judged according to that which he does not have, but according to that which he does have. (2 Corinthians 8:12) Under the reign of Christ, mankind will be gradually educated, trained and disciplined until they reach full knowledge of God and ability to keep his requirements perfectly. (Isaiah 2:3,4; 29; 24; 1 Timothy 2:4) And when they have reached such full knowledge and ability, full harmony with God will be required. Any who then fall short of perfect heart obedience will be cut off, being judged unworthy of life. (Deuteronomy 10:12; 11:13; 26:16; Proverbs 17:3; Romans 6:17; Hebrews 10:26) The sin which brought death to the race through Adam was simply one disobedient act. (Romans 5:18) But by that act he fell from his perfection. God had a right to demand complete obedience of him, since he was created with complete ability to obey. He will demand the same of all men when the great work of restoring them is complete. To fall short of perfect obedience, then, will be to sin willfully against full light and perfect ability.

(16) The conclusion of the world’s coming judgment is clearly shown in the parable of the sheep and goats, (Matthew 25:31-46) and also Revelation 20:15; 21:8; 1 Corinthians 15:25. These and other scriptures show that at its close the two classes will have been completely separated — the obedient and the disobedient — those in complete harmony with God’s law, and those out of harmony with it. The obedient enter into everlasting life, and the others are remanded to death, extinction (“second death”). (Revelation 21:8) It will not be the same sentence as in the first judgment, from which they had been reckonedly released by Christ who secured the right to release them by the giving of their ransom by his death. This will be their second death. No ransom will be given for them from this sentence. (Hebrews 10:26) There will be no release or resurrection for them because their sin will be willful, individual sin against full light and opportunity, under a most favorable individual trial.

(17) We do not wish to be understood as ignoring the present responsibility of the world, which every person has, according to the measure of light enjoyed, whether it be much or little, whether it be the light of nature or of revelation. “Jehovah’s eyes are everywhere, keeping watch on the evil and the good,” and “For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it is good, or whether it is evil” (Proverbs 15:3; Ecclesiastes 12:14) The good and bad works of the present time will receive a just recompense of reward either now or hereafter. “Some men’s sins are evident, going before to judgment, and some men also they follow after.” (1 Timothy 5:24) No others than those who are now have tasted of the heavenly gift, and made partakers of the holy spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, have as yet sufficient light to incur the final penalty, the second death. (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26) We here merely introduce the subject of the world’s accountability, leaving the particulars for subsequent consideration.

(18) There is a period of several thousand years between the world’s first and second judgment days. During this long period God has been selecting two special classes from amongst mankind. He has been specially trying, disciplining and training them to be his honored instruments during the period or day of the worlds judgment. These two classes are respectively designated by Paul (Hebrews 3:5,6) as the house of sons and the house of servants. The former is composed of those who are called out of the world to be of the seed of Abraham during the during the Christian dispensation. (Galatians 3:26,27) The latter is composed of the faithful overcomers who lived before the Christian dispensation. These special selections should not be understood as causing any interference with the judgment or trial promised to the world of mankind in the age to follow this Gospel, or Good News, dispensation. Those who successfully pass the trial for either of these special classes will not come into judgment with the world, but will enter into their reward when the world is coming into judgment. (John 5:24) They will be God’s agents in the blessing of the world in giving men the instruction and training necessary for their final testing and judgment. “Don’t you know that the saints will judge the world?” — 1 Corinthians 6:2; See also: Daniel 7:22; Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:29,30; Revelation 20:4.

(19) These specially selected classes, like the rest of mankind, were once under the Adamic condemnation, but became sharers by faith in the benefits of Christ’s death. (Ephesians 2:3; Romans 4:3,5) After being first justified by faith in God’s promises, and having then fulfilled the subsequent conditions of their respective callings, they are accounted worthy of high exaltation to stations of honor and authority. — 1 Peter 5:6.

(20) The trial or judgment of both these classes has been much more severe than the trial of world will be in its judgment day. These have had to withstand Satan, the ruler of this world, with all his cunning and devious schemes. The world’s judgment day, on the other hand, will have Jesus as its ruler. Satan will be bound so that he will not be able to mislead the nations. (Revelation 20:3) The sons and servants of God in the present age have suffered persecution for righteousness sake. In the next age people will be rewarded for righteousness and punished only for unrighteousness. The justified of this age have had great stumbling blocks and snares in the way, which will be removed when the world is placed on trial. But though the trial of these two special companies has been much more severe than the trial of the world will be, the rewards are correspondingly greater.

(21) Under the appealing, yet misleading guidance of the great deceiver, the world, including the false churches of popular Christianity, have been robbed of the blessed awareness of the coming time of righteous judgment. (Revelation 12:9) Many may know that the Bible tells of a coming judgment day, but most regard it with only fear and dread. Because of this fear, there is to them no more unwelcome news than the day of Jehovah is at hand. They put it far away from them, and do not wish to hear it even mentioned. They have no idea of the blessings in store for the world in that glorious reign of him whom God has appointed to judge the world in righteousness. (1 Corinthians 2:6-8) Among the greatest of the blinding influences which Satan have devised to keep men in ignorance of the truth regarding the judgment day have been the errors which have crept into the creeds and hymn books of the various religious sects. Many have come to esteem these errors as of paramount importance to the Word of God. — Matthew 15:6-9.

(22) How differently did the prophets and apostles regard that promised day of judgment! Note the exultant prophetic utterance of David (1 Chronicles 16:31-34). He says:

Let the heavens be glad,
and let the earth rejoice;
Let them say among the nations, Jehovah reigns.
Let the sea roar, and the fullness of it;
Let the field exult, and all that is therein:
Then shall the trees of the wood sing for joy before Jehovah;
For he comes to judge the earth.
Oh give thanks to Jehovah; for he is good;
For his lovingkindness endures forever.

(23) The apostle Paul points to the same day, assuring us that it will be a glorious and desirable day, and that the whole creation is groaning and travailing in pain together as they wait for that day. Then the great Judge will deliver and bless the world, as well as exalt and glorify his disciples. — Romans 8:21,22.

(24) In John 5:28,29 a precious promise for the world of a coming judgment-trial for life everlasting is, by a mistranslation, turned into a fearful imprecation. According to the Greek, they that have done evil – that have failed to obtain divine approval – will come forth to a resurrection of judgment [Greek, krisis see paragraph 3]. What a glorious prospect for all! What glorious Good News the true message of the Bible is!

Related Links:

Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment

Ages in the Bible and the Last Day of Judgment

Armageddon, The Second Death, and Judgments

Judgment and the Lake of Fire

Why God Allows Suffering and Wickedness

(1) For centuries many noble men, philosophers, and religious leaders have tried to explain why mankind suffers. Most of those who have tried to answer the question of human affliction have not understood God’s overall purposes. Thus the answers they have come up with cannot completely satisfy our minds. Many people have become atheists or agnostics because of the agony they have either seen or experienced.

(2) It is not enough to say that God allows or sends us grief so we will appreciate the good even more. For instance, a five year old child dies from starvation in Ethiopia. How can one explain the benefits of this child’s suffering? Probably all he has experienced in his short life has been misery. Was his pain purposeless? Will he and millions of others like him receive any benefit from the agony they suffered in the small amount of time they spent in this world? There must be a complete and satisfying explanation. Why are wickedness and suffering permitted? What good could possibly come from it? We also need to know if mankind will forever be subject to suffering. Will the time come when all afflictions will cease?

(3) The Bible attributes mankind’s overall suffering to the first man’s sin. “Therefore, as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned. . . . Many died through one man’s trespass. . . . The judgment following one trespass brought condemnation. . . . Because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man. . . . One man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men. . . . By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.” (Romans 5:12,15-18) These scriptures bring even more questions to our mind. “Why did he permit Satan to present the temptation to our first parents, after having created them perfect and upright? Or why did he allow the forbidden tree to have a place among the good?” Despite all attempts to turn it aside, the question will obtrude itself — “Could not God have prevented all possibility of man’s fall?”

(4) Some inquire: “Could not God, with whom all things are possible, have interfered to prevent the full accomplishment of Satan’s design?” God could have prevented the first man from sinning. This he did not do. He allowed the first man to sin. Therefore, we must reasonably conclude that Jehovah (Yahweh) foresaw some greater advantage by allowing man to experience sin and suffering.

(5) God’s plans, seen in their completeness will prove the wisdom of the course pursued. Doubtless he could have prevented the first man from sinning. However, such interference would have prevented the accomplishment of God’s own purposes. His purpose is twofold: first, to make manifest to men and angels the perfection, majesty and righteous authority of his law to the glory of his name; second, to prove both to men and to angels the wicked results from its violation. — Ephesians 3:10,11; Ezekiel 38:23; Psalm 67:1-5; 145:5-12

(6) Besides, some things are impossible with God, as the scriptures state. It is “impossible for God to lie.” (Hebrews 6:18) “He cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13) He cannot do wrong, and therefore he could not choose any but the wisest and best plan for introducing his creatures into life.

(7) Most, however, have short-sighted vision. (Isaiah 56:10; 59:10; Ephesians 4:17-19; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Romans 11:33-36) Therefore for a time they fail to discern the hidden springs of Jehovah’s infinite wisdom.

(8) The Scriptures declare that all things were created for Jehovah’s pleasure. (Revelation 4:11) Yes, Jehovah takes pleasure in dispensing blessings. And surely these blessings are all in harmony with his personal attributes of love, justice and wisdom. God is not permitting wickedness and suffering simply for evil’s sake. Nor is Jehovah in league with sin. He declares that he is “not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness.” (Psalm 5:4) Though opposed to sin in every sense, God permits (that is, does not hinder) it for a time. Why? Because his wisdom sees a way in which it will provide a lasting and valuable lesson and eventual blessing to his creatures.

Right and Wrong Principles

(9) It is commonly accepted that for every right principle there is a corresponding wrong principle. For instance, we all know of truth and falsity, love and hatred, justice and injustice. We distinguish these opposite principles as right and wrong, by their effects when put into action. If an active principle brings harmony and happiness, we think of that as a right principle. If a principle, once activated, brings discord and unhappiness, we think of that principle as a wrong principle.

(10) Man, in his sinful state, may not be able to discern these principles very well. A person may think that a certain action has brought good results when in reality it has only seemed to be good for a short time. Sometimes what appears to be good in the eyes of man may not be so in finality. (Isaiah 5:20; Proverbs 14:12) Thus the Bible says that the very conscience of the wicked has become branded with deception as with a hot iron. Therefore he may think that what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right. — 1 Timothy 4:2.

(11) The first man’s conscience was fully in accord with God in its discernment of right and wrong. Jehovah had endowed him with this sense of right and wrong — of justice and injustice. (Ecclesiastes 7:29) This had to be so for we read that Adam was not deceived although he disobeyed. (1 Timothy 2:14) It is by this sense of conscience that we are able to recognize that God is good. It is to this conscience that God always appeals to prove his righteousness or justice. — Psalm 34:8

(12) By his sense of conscience Adam could discern sin, or unrighteousness, to be harmful, even before he knew all its consequences. The lower orders of God’s creatures are not endowed with this sense of conscience. A dog has some intelligence, but not to this degree. He may learn that certain actions bring the approval and reward of his master, and certain others his disapproval. He might steal or take life, but would not be termed a sinner. Likewise, he might protect property and life, but would not be called virtuous — because he is ignorant of the principles involved in his actions.

(13) God could have made mankind devoid of ability to discern right and wrong, or able only to discern and to do right. Such a being, however, would have been only a living machine. He certainly would not be a mental image of his Creator.

(14) God could have made man perfect and a free agent, as he did, and have guarded him from Satan’s temptation. In that case, man’s experience would be limited to only good. He would have been continually liable to suggestions of wickedness from without, or to ambitions from within. This would have made his everlasting future uncertain, and an outbreak of disobedience and disorder might always have been a possibility. Additionally, good would never have so highly appreciated except by its contrast with the bad.

Results From the Permission of Sin and Suffering

(15) God first made his creatures acquainted with good. They were surrounded with good in Eden. Afterwards, as a penalty for disobedience, he allowed them to experience the bad. God expelled them from Eden and deprived them from fellowship with himself. Outside the garden God let them experience sickness, pain, and death, that they might thus know wickedness and the exceeding sinfulness of sin. By comparison of results they came to an appreciation and proper estimate of both. “Jehovah said: `Look! Man has become as one of us, knowing good and bad.'” — Genesis 3:22.

(16) The whole human family has inherited a share in this knowledge. However, unlike Adam and Eve, they first acquire their knowledge of badness. Thus Adam’s family cannot fully realize what good is at present. Thank Jehovah that mankind has been redeemed! They will realize the goodness of God in the Millennial Kingdom. — Psalm 90:3; 2 Timothy 2:3-6; Revelation 21:2-4.

(17) Man was created in the likeness of his Creator. The law of right and wrong was written into his natural constitution. It was a part of his nature, as it is a part of the divine nature. (Genesis 1:27) Adam’s conscience, or judgment of right and wrong, and the liberty to use it, which Adam possessed, were the most important features of his likeness to God.

(18) But let us not forget that today man does not have this image to same degree that Adam had it. Fallen mankind has lost much of its clear outline through the erasing, degrading influence of sin. Hence it is not now what it was in the first man. Mankind’s conscience has become defiled. (Titus 1:15; 1 Corinthians 8:7) But this was not God’s design for man.

(19) It is Jehovah’s desire for mankind to express perfect love. (1 John 2:4,5; 5:2,3) But love that is forced is not true love at all. Therefore Jehovah gave the first man the ability to choose to love or not to love, even as Jehovah himself can choose to love or not to love. (Psalm 11:5,7) This liberty of choice, termed free will, is a part of man’s original endowment. This, together with the full measure of his mental and moral faculties, constituted him an image of his Creator. Today, after six thousand years of degradation, much of the original likeness has been erased by sin. Mankind is no longer free. He is bound to a greater or less extent, by sin and its entailments. (Romans 3:9; 7:14-17) The result has been that sin is now more easy and therefore more agreeable to the fallen race than is righteousness.

(20) God could have deterred Adam from sin by giving him a vivid impression of the many adverse results of sin. God foresaw, however, that an experience of suffering and wickedness would be the surest and most lasting lesson to serve man eternally. Therefore God did not prevent but permitted man to take his choice, and to feel the aftermath of wickedness.

(21) If Jehovah had not allowed an opportunity to sin, then man could not have resisted it. Thus there would have been neither virtue nor merit in his right-doing. God seeks those who desire to worship him in spirit and truth. He desires intelligent and willing obedience, rather than ignorant, mechanical service. He already had in operation inanimate mechanical agencies accomplishing his will. His design, however, was to make a nobler being. God desired an intelligent creature in his own likeness. This being was to be a lord of the earth. His loyalty and righteousness would be based upon an appreciation of right and wrong, of good and bad.

(22) The principles of right and wrong, as principles, have always existed, and must always exist. All perfect, intelligent creatures in God’s likeness must be free to choose either, though the right principle only will forever continue to be active. The Scriptures inform us that the activity of the corrupt principle will only be permitted long enough to accomplish God’s purpose. Then it will forever cease to be active, and all who continue to submit to its control will forever cease to exist. (1 Corinthians 15:25,26; Hebrews 2:14) Righteousness and right-doers, only, will be active forever. — Psalm 37:9-11,18,28,29.

(23) But the question persists in another form: “Could not man have been made acquainted with wickedness in some other way than by experience?” There are four ways of gaining knowledge, namely, by intuition, by observation, by experience, and by information received through sources accepted as positively truthful. An intuitive knowledge belongs only to Jehovah himself, the eternal fountain of all wisdom and truth. (Job 36:5; Romans 11:33-36) Of necessity and in the very nature of his being, Jehovah is superior to all his creatures. (Isaiah 55:9) Therefore, man’s knowledge of good and bad could not be intuitive. Man’s knowledge might have come by observation. But for this to happen, he would have needed some exhibition of wickedness and its results. This would imply the permission of wickedness somewhere, among some beings. Why not as well among men, and upon the earth, as among others elsewhere?

(24) Why should not man be the illustration, and get his knowledge by practical experience? It is so. Man is gaining a practical experience. He is furnishing an illustration to others as well, being “made a spectacle to angels.” — 1 Corinthians 4:9.

(25) Adam already had some information concerning wickedness. Jehovah had told him that if he ate from a certain tree that he would die. Thus he had a knowledge of wickedness by information.(1) That, however, was insufficient to restrain him from trying the experiment. Adam and Eve knew God as their Creator. They recognized him as one who had the right to control and direct them. God, in speaking of the forbidden tree, told them: “In the day that you eat from it, dying, you will die.” They had, therefore, a theoretical knowledge of wickedness, though they had never observed or experienced its effects. So they did not fully appreciate their Creator’s loving authority and his beneficent law, nor the dangers from which he thereby proposed to protect them. They therefore yielded to the temptation. God wisely permitted this, for his wisdom had already traced the good that would come in due time.

(26) Few appreciate the severity of the temptation under which our first parents fell. Nor do many recognize the justice of God in attaching so severe a penalty for what seems to many so small an offense.

(27) However, a little reflection will make all plain. The Scriptures tell the simple story of how the woman, the weaker one, was deceived. Thus, she became the first to disobey. Her experience and acquaintance with God were even more limited than Adam’s, for he was created first. God had directly communicated with him before her creation the knowledge of the penalty of sin. Eve probably received her information from Adam. Then the serpent approached her with a lie. She convinced herself that what he said was true. She thus partook of the forbidden fruit. Evidently, she did not understand the full extent what her disobedience would mean. Although she was deceived, the apostle Paul tells us that she was a transgressor, though not as responsible as if she had transgressed against greater light. — 1 Timothy 2:13,14.

(28) Adam, we are told, unlike Eve, was not deceived. (1 Timothy 2:14) Hence, he must have transgressed with a fuller realization of sin. He knew that if he disobeyed, he would die. Up until that time, as a son of God, he had been led by the spirit of God. (Romans 8:9,14; Luke 3:38) While enjoying the provisions in the Garden, his main attachment was to his Creator. He had not received any temptation to do otherwise. We must remember that Adam was in the image and likeness of his Creator. Yet, as long he obeyed, his quality of god-like love was otherwise his to express freely in whatever way he desired. As long as he continued to be led by the spirit of God, he would be showing his supreme love for his Creator.

(29) But Eve approached him with a temptation to disobey his Creator. He was now tempted to reject the leads of God’s spirit in order to follow that of the flesh. Now a desire for his wife enticed him to walk after the flesh rather than the spirit. We can readily see what was the temptation that impelled him to disobey, and thus walk after the flesh with the result of death. (James 1:14,15; Romans 8:6,7) His love for God was now being strained. Would he love his Creator more than his wife? Or would he obey his wife? He decided to show more love for his wife than his Creator. Therefore he listened to the voice of his wife. Both were “in the transgression,” as the apostle Paul shows. (Romans 5:14; 1 Timothy 2:14) Adam and Eve were counted as “one” and not “two”. Hence Eve shared the sentence which her conduct helped to bring upon Adam. — Romans 5:12,17-19.

(30) God had given man the freedom to choose. God also knew that man lacked the fullappreciation of sin and its results. (Psalm 44:21) Therefore God foresaw that man, when tempted, would give in to sin. God also foresaw, in order to establish before all creation the exceeding sinfulness of sin, that once man became acquainted with sin that he would still choose it. This is because that acquaintance would so impair his conscience and will that wickedness would gradually become more agreeable and more desirable to him than good.

(31) Still, God designed to permit wickedness. God had already provided the remedy for man’s release from sin’s effects. He saw that the result would be to lead mankind, through experience, to a full appreciation of sin’s `exceeding sinfulness.’ Further mankind could then understand the matchless brilliancy of virtue in contrast to it. (Romans 7:13) Mankind could thus learn to the greatest degree to love and honor his Creator, the source and fountain of all goodness. All this experience would lead man to forever shun that which brought so much woe and misery. So the final result will be greater love for God, and greater hatred for all that is opposed to his will. Thus God’s permission of sin and wickedness for a short time will result in the firm establishment in everlasting righteousness of all such as will profit by the lessons God is now teaching.

(32) However, a wide distinction should be observed between the indisputable fact that God has permitted sin, and the serious error of some which charges that God is the author and instigator of sin and wickedness.(2) The latter view is both blasphemous and contradictory to the facts presented in the Scriptures. Those who fall into this error usually do so in an attempt to find another plan of salvation than that which God has provided through the sacrifice of Jesus (Yahshua) as our ransom-price. They convince themselves and others that God is responsible for all sin and wickedness and crime.* They want us to believe that man as an innocent tool in God’s hands was forced into sin. Thus they clear the way for the theory that not a sacrifice for sins, nor mercy in any form, was needed, but simply and only JUSTICE.

(33) Additionally, they lay a foundation for another part of their false theory, that is, universalism. This teaching claims that as God caused all the sin and wickedness and crime in all, he will also cause the deliverance of all mankind from sin and death. And reasoning that God willed and caused the sin, and that none could resist him, they therefore claim that when God wills righteousness, all will likewise be powerless to resist him. But if we reason this way, we have to set aside the most striking feature of man’s likeness to God, that is, his liberty of will or choice. Without this, man’s noblest quality, he is theoretically degraded to a mere machine which acts only as it is acted upon. If this were the case, man, instead of being the lord of earth, would be inferior even to insects, for they undoubtedly have a will or power of choice. Even the little ant has been given a power of will which man, though by his greater power may be able to oppose and thwart, cannot destroy.

(34) True, God has power to force man into either sin or righteousness, but his Word declares that he has no such purpose. He could not consistently force man into sin for the same reason that “he cannot deny himself.” (Titus 2:13) Such a course would be inconsistent with his righteous personal qualities, and therefore an impossibility. And he seeks the worship and love of only those who would worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23) To this end he has given man a liberty of will like his own, and he desires man to choose righteousness. — Deuteronomy 30:19; Joshua 24:15; Esther 7:7; Proverbs 1:29; 3:31; 16:16; 22:1; 31:9; Jeremiah 8:3; Acts 4:19; 13:46; 1 Corinthians 2:15; 10:14,15; Hebrews 11:11.

(35) Permitting man to choose for himself led to his fall from divine fellowship and favor and blessings, into death. (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-19; 5:3) By his experience with sin and death, man learns practically what God offered to teach him theoretically, without his experiencing sin and its results. God’s foreknowledge of what man would do is not used against him, as an excuse for degrading him to a mere machine-being. On the contrary, it is used in man’s favor. God, foreseeing the course man would take if left free to choose for himself, did not hinder him from tasting sin and its better results experimentally. But he did begin at once to provide a means for man’s recovery from his first transgression. He promised a Redeemer, a great Savior, able to save to the uttermost all who would return to God through him. (Hebrews 7:25) God provided not only a ransom for all, but a guarantee that all would receive its testimony in due time. — 1 Timothy 2:3-6

(36) The severity of the penalty was not a display of wickedness or malice on God’s part. It was but the necessary and inevitable, final result of sin. Through this God allowed man to see and feel its harmful effects. God can sustain life as long as he sees fit, even against the destructive power of actual wickedness. Notwithstanding, it would be as impossible for God to sustain such a life everlastingly, as it is for God to lie. (Titus 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:13) His justice will not allow it. Such a life could only become more and more a source of unhappiness to itself and to others. (Ecclesiastes 2:23) Consequently, God is too good to sustain an existence so useless and harmful to itself and others. Accordingly, when he removes his sustaining power, destruction, the natural result of wickedness, follows. Life is a favor, a gift of God, and it will be continued forever only to the obedient. — Hebrews 5:9; Acts 3:32.

(37) No injustice has been done to the human race in condemning them without giving each an individual trial. Jehovah was no sense bound to bring us into existence. Having brought us into existence, there is no law of equity or justice which binds him to perpetuate our being everlastingly, nor even to grant us a trial under promise of everlasting life if obedient.

(38) Mark this point well. The present life, from cradle to the tomb is but a process of dying. Notwithstanding all its suffering and disappointments, it is still a boon, a favor, even if there should be no life after this one. The large majority cherish life as such. Only a few, through severe depression, consider their life unworthy of living. (Even these, however, usually would desire to live, but their circumstances have caused them so much pain that they no longer esteem life something to hang onto.) But what if we each were given a separate trial under the same circumstances as Adam? Would we not all do the same as he?

(39) Many have believed the erroneous idea that God placed our race on trial for life with the alternative of eternal torture. In spite of this, nothing of the kind is even hinted at in the Bible as the penalty. The favor or blessing of God to his obedient children is life — eternal life — free from pain, sickness and every other element of decay and death. Adam had this blessing in full measure. He had eternal life, but this eternal life was conditional upon his continuance in obedience. Thus Adam was warned: “In the day that you eat from it, dying, you will die.” (Genesis 2:17) Adam lost eternal life because of his disobedience. (Genesis 3:22) He knew nothing of a life in torment, as the penalty of sin. Only those who remain obedient are continued in everlasting life. (Hebrews 5:9) Life is God’s gift, and death, the opposite of life, is the penalty he prescribes. — Romans 6:23.

(40) Eternal torture is nowhere suggested in the Hebrew Scriptures, and only a few statements of the Christian Scriptures can be so misconstrued as to appear to teach it. Even these are found either in the symbolisms of Revelation, or in the parables and obscure sayings of Jesus. (For a full understanding of these scriptures, see our publication: Hope of Life After Death) These sayings of Jesus were not understood by people who heard them. (Luke 8:10) Today they seem to be but little better comprehended by most Bible readers. “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) “The soul that is sinning, will itself die.” — Ezekiel 18:4.

(41) Many have supposed God unjust in allowing Adam’s condemnation to be shared by his posterity, instead of granting each one a trial and chance for everlasting life similar to that which Adam enjoyed. But what will such say if it should now be shown that the world’s opportunity and trial for life will be much more favorable than was Adam’s? What if we can show that the world’s trial will be more favorable because God adopted this plan of permitting Adam’s race to share his penalty in a natural way? We believe this to be the case, and will endeavor to make it plain.

(42) God assures us that as condemnation passed upon all by one person’s condemnation, Adam, so he has arranged for a restoration of Adam and his race. “Therefore as by of the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” (Romans 5:12,18,19) Thus seen, the death of Jesus, the undefiled, the sinless one, was a complete settlement toward God of the sin of Adam. One man had sinned, and in him all had shared his curse, his penalty. So Jesus, having paid the penalty of that one sinner, bought not only Adam, but all his posterity — all men — who by heredity shared his weaknesses and sins and the penalty of these — death. Our Lord, “the man Christ Jesus,” himself unblemished, approved, and with a perfect seed or race in him, unborn, likewise untainted with sin, gave his all of human life and title as the full ransom-price for Adam and the race or seed in him when sentenced. — 1 Timothy 2:5-7; 1 Peter 1:19

(43) After fully purchasing the lives of Adam and his race, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” God adopts these as children by Jesus the Messiah to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. (Ephesians 1:5) Eventually the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21) Therefore we read: “As in Adam all are dying, even so in Christ all will be made alive.” — 1 Corinthians 15:22

(44) The injury we received through Adam’s fall (we suffered no injustice) is, by God’s favor, to be more than offset with favor through Messiah. All will sooner or later (in God’s due time) be restored to the same standing that Adam enjoyed before he sinned and have an opportunity to live forever. Most do not receive a full knowledge, and, by faith, an enjoyment of this favor of God in the present time (including children and those not professing Christianity). These will assuredly have these privileges in the next age, or “world to come,” the dispensation or age to follow the present. To this end, “all that are in their graves . . . will come forth.” As each one (whether in this age or the next) becomes fully aware and appreciative of the ransom-price given by our Lord Jesus, and of his subsequent privileges, he is considered as alive and on trial, as Adam was. Obedience brings everlasting life, and disobedience everlasting death — the second death. Perfect obedience, however, without perfect ability to render it, is not required of any. Under the covenant of favor true worshippers during the Good News age, have had the righteousness of Christ imputed to them by faith, to make up for their unavoidable deficiencies through the weakness of the flesh. (Romans 4:13-25; 7:14-25; 8:1-4) Divine favor will also operate toward “whosoever will” of the world during the Millennial age. (Revelation 22:17) It will be the privilege all who are unjust to symbolically walk on the highway of holiness in that age to come, since that highway is for the unclean, that they might clean up their ways. However, not all reach its end, so those who remain in their unclean condition will not pass over it. (Isaiah 35:8) Those who do pass over it will have proven themselves to be incorruptible, incapable of being corrupted, by which death is swallowed up in victory. (1 Corinthians 15:54; Isaiah 25:8) That new trial, the result of the ransom and the New Covenant, will differ from the trial in Eden, in that in it the acts of each one will affect only his own future. (Jeremiah 31:29,30) During the time of resurrection, the time of regeneration (Matthew 19:28), there will be no marrying, and thus no offspring. — Matthew 22:30.

(45) But wouldn’t this be giving some of the race second chance to gain everlasting life? We answer: The first chance for everlasting life was lost for himself and all of his race, yet in his loins, by Adam’s disobedience. Adam was our first father. Under his original trial “condemnation passed upon all men.” God’s plan was that through Christ’s redemption-sacrifice Adam, and allwho lost life in his failure, should be given the opportunity to turn to God through faith in the Redeemer. (First, however, man must taste the bitterness of the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the weight of its penalty.) If any one chooses to call this a “second chance,” let him do so. It must certainly be Adam’s second chance. In a sense at least it is the same for all the redeemed race. But it will the first individual opportunity for his descendants, who, when born, were already under condemnation to death. Call it what we please, the facts are the same — all were sentenced to death because of Adam’s sin. Likewise, all will enjoy (in the Millennial age) a full opportunityto live forever under the favorable terms of the New Covenant. This, as the angels declared, is “good tidings of great joy which will be for all people.” And, as the apostle declared, this grace of God — that our Lord Jesus “gave himself a ransom for all” — must be “witnessed” to all “in due time.” (Romans 5:17-19; 1 Timothy 2:4-6) Men, not God, have sought to limit opportunity at a person’s death in this age. God, on the contrary, tells us that the Good News age is merely for the selection of the Church, the seed of Abraham, through whom, during a succeeding age, all others will be brought to an accurate knowledge of the truth and granted full opportunity to secure everlasting life under the New Covenant.

(46) But what advantage is there in the method pursued? Why not give all men an individual chance for life now, at once, without the long process of Adam’s trial and condemnation, the share by his offspring in his condemnation, the redemption of all by Christ’s sacrifice, and the new offer to all of everlasting life upon the New Covenant conditions? If wickedness and suffering must be permitted because of man’s freedom to choose, why is its extermination accomplished by such a peculiar and circuitous method? Why allow so much misery to intervene and to come upon many who will ultimately receive the gift of life as obedient children of God?

(47) Ah! that is the point on which interest in this subject centers. God could have ordered the propagation of our species differently. He could have made it so that children would not partake of the results of parental sins. He could have arranged it so each one of us would have a favorable Edenic condition for our testing. Thus only those who failed would have been condemned and suffer the death penalty. But if God has chosen this method, how many might we suppose would, under all those favorable condition, be found worthy and how many unworthy of life?

(48) Adam was in every respect a sample of perfect manhood. If we take the one instance of Adam as a criterion, what might we expect? The conclusion would be that none would have been found perfectly obedient and worthy. None would possess a clear knowledge of and experience with God. They would not have been able to develop full confidence in his laws, beyond their own personal judgment. We are assured that it was Jesus’ knowledge of the Father that enabled him to trust and obey implicitly. — Isaiah 53:11

(49) But let us reason at little. Suppose that one-half were found worthy and the other half would suffer the wages of sin — death. Then what? Let us suppose the other half, the obedient, had neither experienced nor witnessed sin. Would they not forever feel a curiosity toward things forbidden, only restrained through a kind of fear of God and of the penalty? Their service could not be so hearty as though they knew good and bad, and hence had a full appreciation of the benevolent designs of the Creator in making the laws which govern his own course as well as the course of his creatures. Then, too, consider the half that would have gone into death as a result of their own willful sin. They would be lastingly cut off from life. Their only hope would be that God would in love remember them as his creatures, the work of his hands, and provide another trial for them. But why do so? The only reason would be a hope that if they were re-awakened and tried again, some of them, by reason of their larger experience, might then choose obedience and live.

(50) But there two other objections to the plan suggested, of trying each individual separately at first. One redeemer was quite sufficient in the plan which God adopted, because only one had sinned, and one had been condemned. (Others shared his condemnation.) But if the first trial had been an individual trial, and if one-half of the race had sinned and been individually condemned, it would have required the sacrifice of a redeemer for each condemned individual. One unforfeited life could redeem one forfeited life, but no more. The one perfect man, “the man Christ Jesus,” who redeems the fallen Adam (and our losses through him), could not have been “a ransom [a corresponding price] for ALL” under any other circumstance than those of the plan which God chose. If we suppose the total number of human beings since Adam to be one hundred billion, and that only one-half of these had sinned, it would require all of the fifty billion obedient, perfect men to die in order to give a ransom [a corresponding price] for all the fifty billion transgressors. And such a plan would involve no less suffering than is at present experienced.

(51) The other objection to such a plan is that it would not allow participants from those who have shared in the fallen flesh as part of the judging body. Even if such a plan were put into effect, there would still be question of the fairness of God’s judgment. (With the plan that Jehovah in his wisdom has chosen “the saints will judge the world” with Jesus.) Likewise God could not justly command the fifty billion obedient sons to give their rights, privileges and lives as ransoms for the sinners. Under Jehovah’s law their obedience would have won the right to live forever. Hence, if those perfect men were asked to become ransomers of the fallen ones, it would be God’s plan, as with our Lord Jesus, to set some special reward before them, so that they, for the joy set before them, might endure the penalty for their brothers. Suppose that the same reward should be given them that was given to our Lord Jesus. He was made highly exalted above angels, principalities, powers, and every name that is named — next to Jehovah. (Ephesians 1:20,21) Under the alternative plan under discussion, then, there would be an immense number taken from the human to the spiritual realm, which the wisdom of God evidently did not approve. Furthermore, these fifty billion, under such circumstances, would all be an equality, and none among them chief or head. But under the plan God has adopted there is only a need for oneredeemer, one highly exalted above the angels. Additionally, provision was made for a small number of those whom he redeemed, who prove worthy to be “joint-heirs” with him through joint-suffering with him through self-denial. (Galatians 8:17) These will share his name, his honor, his glory and his position on the Father’s throne, even as a wife shares with the husband. — Matthew 19:28; 1 Corinthians 6:2.

(52) By condemning all in one representative, the way was opened for the ransom and restoration of all by one redeemer. Those who can appreciate this feature of Jehovah’s plan will find in it the solution of many perplexities. They will see that the condemnation of all in one was the reverse of an injury. It was a great favor to all when taken in connection with God’s plan for providing justification for all through another one’s sacrifice. Wickedness and suffering will be forever extinguished when God’s purpose in permitting it shall have been accomplished, and when the benefits of the ransom are made co-extensive with the penalty of sin. It is impossible, however, to appreciate rightly feature of the plan of without a full recognition of the sinfulness of sin, then nature of its penalty — death, the importance and value of the ransom which our Lord Jesus gave, and the positive and complete restoration of the individual to favorable conditions, conditions under which he will have full and ample trial, before being judged worthy of the reward (living forever), or of the penalty (death forever). In view of the great plan for redemption, and the consequent “restoration of all things,” through Jesus, we can see that blessings result through the permission of wickedness and suffering which, probably could not otherwise have been so fully realized.

(53) How much more like the wisdom of God to confine sin to certain limits, as his plan does. How much better even our finite can discern it to be, to have but perfect and impartial law, which declares the wages of willful sin to be death — cutting off from life. God thus limits the sinfulness which he permits. The time will come when the permission of sinfulness will end. The Millennial reign of Jesus will accomplish a full extinction of suffering and also of willful evildoers. (Revelation 20:2-4,9; 21:1-4; Psalm 37:9-11,29) Afterwards and for all eternity righteousness will prevail amongst all creation, based upon full knowledge and perfect free-will obedience by perfect beings. — Psalm 145:10-13.

(54) Mankind will forever be benefitted by the experience gained. The angels will be benefitted by their observation of mankind’s experience. (1 Corinthians 4:9) Not only this, but all will be further advantaged by a fuller acquaintance with Jehovah’s personal qualities as manifested in his plan. When his plan is fully accomplished, all will be able to read clearly his wisdom, justice, love and power. (Romans 11:32-36) They will see the justice which could not violate the divine decree, nor save the justly condemned race without a full cancellation of their just penalty by a willing redeemer. They will see the love which provided a noble sacrifice and which highly exalted the Redeemer to God’s own right hand, giving him power and authority thereby to restore to life those whom he had purchased with his precious blood. They will also see the power and wisdom which were able to work out a glorious destiny for his creatures, and so to overrule every opposing influence as to make them either the willing or the unwilling agents for the advancement and final accomplishment of his grand designs. If wickedness had not been permitted and thus overruled by divine providence, we cannot see how these results could have been attained. The permission of wickedness for a time among men thus displays a far-seeing wisdom, which grasped all the attendant circumstances, devised the remedy, and marked the final outcome through his power and grace.

(55) During the Good News dispensation sin and its attendant suffering have been further made use of for the discipline and preparation of the Church. If sin had not been permitted, the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus and the joint-heirs, who receive the reward of immortality in the spirit realm, would have been impossible.

(56) It seems clear that substantially the same law of God which is now over mankind, obedience to which has the reward of life, and disobedience the penalty of death, must ultimately govern all of God’s intelligent creatures. That law, as our Lord defined it, is briefly comprehended in the one word Love. “You must love Jehovah your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind — and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) Ultimately, when the purpose of God will have been accomplished, the glory of the divine qualities will be manifest to all intelligent creatures. The temporary permission of wickedness and suffering will be seen by all to have been a wise feature in the divine policy. Now, this can only be seen by the eye of faith, looking forward through God’s Word at the things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began — the restoration of all things! — Acts 3:21

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Questions

(1) What have most of those who have tried to answer of the question of human affliction not understood?

(2) What questions need to be answered concerning wickedness and suffering?

(3) a) To what does the Bible attribute mankind’s overall suffering? b) What further questions does this raise?

(4) Since God allowed the first man to sin, what do we reasonably conclude?

(5) a) When seen in their completeness, what do God’s plans prove? b) Why did God not interfere to stop the first man from sinning?

(6) What else shows that God could not choose any but the wisest and best plan for introducing his creatures into life?

(7) Why do many fail to discern the hidden springs of Jehovah’s infinite wisdom?

(8) Does God take pleasure in wickedness? What do reasonably conclude, then, concerning God’s permission of sin and wickedness?

(9) How are the principles of good and bad, right and wrong generally perceived?

(10) How has sin affected man’s ability to discern right and wrong?

(11) & (12) Could the first man distinguish right from wrong? What is the basis for your answer?

(13) What if God had made mankind devoid of ability to discern right and wrong, or able only discern and to do right?

(14) What if God had made man perfect and a free agent, and guarded him from Satan’s temptation?

(15) What did the first human pair experience as a result of their disobedience?

(16) Who else is experiencing wickedness and suffering besides the first human pair? Will these ever experience the good so as to obtain a proper appreciation of both?

(17) What were the most important elements of Adam’s likeness to his Creator?

(18) What does man today not have the image of God to the same degree that Adam had it?

(19) What is it Jehovah’s desire for man to express? What is meant by “free will,” and how has this free will been affected by sin?

(20) Why did Jehovah not give Adam some vivid impression of the results of sin instead of permitting him to suffer the actual experiences of wickedness?

(21) What would be the case if Jehovah had not allowed man an opportunity to sin?

(22) a) How long have the principles of right and wrong existed? b) And which principle alone will continue to active forever?

(23) a) What are the four ways of knowing things? b) And why might not Adam have known good and bad by intuition or observation?

(24) In which of these four ways has mankind been gaining knowledge?

(25) a) What knowledge did Adam and Eve have about wickedness and suffering? b) Was this knowledge sufficient to keep them from experimenting with wickedness?

(26) What do few appreciate concerning the temptation of our first parents?

(27) What can be said concerning Eve’s responsibility for her disobedience?

(28) What was Adam’s main attachment or love before he sinned? What freedom did he have?

(29) How was Adam’s love for his creator put to the test and with what results to both Adam and Eve?

(30) Could God foresee that the man would disobey and partake of the forbidden fruit?

(31) What results did God foresee in permitting mankind to sin and suffer?

(32) What theory is not supported by the fact that God permitted sin?

(33) What is the theory of universalism, and what does this theory deny of man?

(34) Why would God not force man into sin?

(35) Why is God’s foreknowledge of man’s sin not to be used against him?

(36) Why is the death sentence not too severe, nor a display of malice or wickedness on God’s part?

(37) Why is not unjust on God’s part to condemn all for Adam’s sin without giving each an individual trial for life?

(38) Even though we may go through many sufferings and disappointments, how should we esteem our present life?

(39) & (40) What have many considered to be the penalty for disobedience? What do the scriptures say?

(41) What do we believe to be case for Adam’s posterity who have been condemned because of Adam’s sin?

(42) & (43) How has God arranged for a restoration of Adam and his race?

(44) How and when are all “made alive” in Christ?

(45) How do we respond to those that say that this would be giving the majority of the race a “second chance”?

(46) What questions are not presented?

(47) What other method could Jehovah have chosen?

(48) What might we expect the result to be if God had chosen the method under consideration?

(49) If Jehovah had chosen the method under consideration, what should we expect if one-half had proven faithful and did not disobey?

(50) What would be required to redeem those who fell if Jehovah had chosen the plan under consideration?

(51) What other objection is there to the suggested plan?

(52) Appreciation of what feature of God’s plan brings solutions to many perplexities?

(53) How else is God’s wisdom manifest in the plan he has chosen?

(54) How will mankind and angels be forever benefitted by the permission of wickedness and suffering?

(55) What else would not have been possible if sin had not been permitted?

(56) What conclusions do we draw respecting God’s permission of wickedness and man’s future blessing?

Endnotes:

1.

Some have thought that Adam had a working knowledge of death while in the Garden of Eden. They claim he saw animals dying. This idea is sometimes used to make it appear that Adam was guilty of the second death and that therefore the ransom sacrifice of Jesus did not cover his sin. The only scripture that is used to support this idea is 2 Peter 2:12: “And these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, . . .” From this some have assumed that when God created animals in the Garden of Eden, they were “made to be taken and destroyed.” But this is not the case. In Ephesians 2:2,3 we read the same of the children of disobedience. Paul there says that the early Christians had in times past been “by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Certainly this does not mean that God created Adam and Eve as “children of wrath.” No, but they became such through disobedience. (Colossians 3:6; Ephesians 5:6) By nature, their sin resulted in wrath upon them and all in their charge, including the lower animals. Had Adam actually seen wickedness and suffering being performed, or performed such himself, in or upon the lower animals, then he already had working knowledge of good and bad before he sinned. But the Bible states that he came to have this knowledge after he sinned. (Genesis 3:22) Therefore, we conclude that Adam had never seen death at all until after he had sinned.

2. Two texts of scripture (Isaiah 45:7 and Amos 3:6) are used to sustain this theory, but by a misinterpretation of the word evil in both texts. Sin is always an evil, but an evil is not always a sin. An earthquake, a conflagration, a flood or a pestilence would be a calamity — an evil. But none of these would be sins. The word evil in the texts cited signifies calamities. The same Hebrew word is translated in the King James Version as affliction in Psalm 34:19, 107:39, Jeremiah 48:16, and Zechariah 1:15. It is translated trouble in Psalm 27:5, 41:1, 88:3, 107:26, Jeremiah 51:2, and Lamentations 1:21. It is translated calamities, adversity, and distress in 1 Samuel 10:19, Psalm 10:6, 94:13, 141:5, Ecclesiastes 7:14, and Nehemiah 2:17. And the same word is in many places rendered harm, mischief, sore, hurt, misery, grief, and sorrow.

In Isaiah 45:7 and Amos 3:6 Jehovah is reminding Israel of his covenant made with them as a nation — that if they would obey his laws he would bless them and protect them from the calamities common to the world in general. But if they would forsake him he would bring calamities (evils) upon them as chastisements. — See Deuteronomy 28:1-14,15-32; Leviticus 26:14-16; Joshua 23:6-11,12-16.

When calamities came upon them, however, they were inclined to consider them as accidents and not as chastisements. Therefore word was sent to them through the prophets, reminding them of their covenant and telling them that their calamities were from him and by his will for their correction. It is absurd to use these texts to prove that God is the author of sin, for they do not at all refer to sin.

Restoration of All Things

 

Adapted from Study VI of The Divine Plan of the Ages, first issued in 1886.


(1) Almost all who claim Christianity believe that for some purpose, in some manner, and at some time, Jesus is to come again. True, Jesus said: “Look! I am with you always, even until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) By his spirit and by his Word he has been with the Church continually, guiding, directing, comforting, and sustaining the dedicated people of God, and cheering them in the midst of their afflictions. But though the Church has been blessedly conscious of the Savior’s knowledge of all her ways and of his constant care and love, yet she longs for his promised personal return. For when he said: “If I go, I will come again” (John 14:3), he certainly referred to a second personal coming.

(2) Some think Jesus referred to the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit; others, to the destruction of Jerusalem, etc. But these apparently overlook what is written in the last book of the Bible. The book of Revelation is thought to have been written some sixty years after the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and twenty-six years after Jerusalem’s destruction. There we read that he who was dead and is alive speaks of the event as yet future, saying: “Look! I am coming quickly, and my reward is with me.” And the inspired John replies: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” — Revelation 22:12,20. (Note: Some claim that the book of Revelation was written before the destruction of Jerusalem and that our Lord returned at the destruction of Jerusalem. However, the scriptures say that the heavens must retain our Lord until the “times of restoration of all things.” (Acts 3:19-21) While some have concluded that the times of restoration took place in 70 CE, our presentation shows that the times of restoration refer to the period of the world’s judgment. — Acts 17:30,31.)

(3) Quite a number think that when sinners are converted that forms a part of his coming until all the world is converted. Then, say they, he will have fully come. These evidently forget the testimony of the Scriptures on the subject, which declares the reverse of their expectation. The Bible shows that at the time of our Lord’s second coming the world will be far from converted to God. We read that “in the last days perilous times will come, for men will be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:1-4) “Evil men and seducers will become worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” (Verse 13) They forget the Lord’s special warning to his followers in the last days: “Take heed to yourselves lest that day come upon you unawares. For it will come as a snare upon all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.” (Luke 21:34,35) Again, it is said: “All tribes of the earth will wail because of him,” when they see him coming. (Revelation 1:7). We may rest assured that this does not describe converted sinners. Do all men wail because of the conversion of sinners? On the contrary, if this passage refers, as almost all admit, to Messiah’s presence on earth, it teaches that all on earth will not love his appearing, as they certainly would do if all were converted.

Messiah Returns to Convert the World

(4) Some expect an actual coming and presence of Messiah, but set the time of the event a long way off. They often claim that through the efforts of the Church in its present condition the world must be converted, and thus the Millennial age be introduced. They assert that when the world has been converted, and Satan bound, and the knowledge of Jehovah has filled the whole earth, and when nations learn war no more, then the work of the Church in her present condition will be ended. According to this view, when the Church has accomplished this great and difficult task, Jesus will come to wind up earthly affairs, reward believers and condemn sinners.

(5) Some scriptures, taken without considering the Bible as a whole, seem to favor this view. However, when God’s Word and plan are viewed as a whole, these will all be found to favor the opposite view. Christ comes before the conversion of the world, and reigns for the purpose of converting the world. The Church is now being tried and prepared to share with Jesus in various positions of royal rule as the seed of Abraham that is to bless all nations. — Genesis 22:18; 26:4; Galatians 3:16-17,29; Psalm 45:6-16.

Today the Kingdom
is Preached Merely as a Witness

(6) There are two texts chiefly relied upon by those who claim that Jesus will not come until after the conversion of the world. One is: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations, and the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) They claim this scripture refers to the conversion of the world before the end of the present age. But witnessing to the world does not imply the conversion of the world. The text says nothing about how the testimony will be received. We understand that this witness is to be given directly before the final end of this age. It’s effect is to gather from from all nations only those who will call upon Jehovah in preparation to live through the destruction of Satan’s world. (Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 107:28; Zephaniah 2:2,3; Isaiah 24:6) Rather than the rest of the world being converted, the scriptures show that they will have to be destroyed so that they might know who Jehovah is. — Psalm 83:17,18.

(7) The Scriptures relate that the main object of the good news in the present age is “to take out a people for” God’s name. (Acts 15:14) By becoming sons of God they become adopted into the family of God, thus bearing his name. (Galatians 4:26) The apostle Paul also tells us that the whole world is waiting for the manifestation of these sons of God. (Romans 8:19) He further tells us that all these sons of God are heirs of God. (Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:29) Thus the witness to the world is not for the purpose of converting the world, but only take out from the world this select few.

(8) The other text used to support the idea that the world is converted before Jesus comes is Psalm 110:1: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” The vague, indefinite idea regarding this text seems to be that Christ sits on a material-like throne somewhere in the heavens until the work of subduing all things is accomplished for him through the Church, and that then he comes to reign. This is a misconception. The throne of God referred to is not a material one, but refers to his supreme authority and rulership. The Lord Jesus has been exalted to a share in that rulership. Paul declares: “God has highly exalted him [Jesus] and given him a name above every name.” (Philippians 2:9) He has given him authority above every other, next to the Father. If Messiah sits upon a material-like throne until his enemies are made his footstool [all subdued], then of course he cannot come until all things are subdued. But if “right hand” refers, not to a fixed locality and bench, but, as we claim, to power, authority, rulership, it follows that the text under consideration would in no wise conflict with the other scripture which teaches that he comes to “subdue all things unto himself,” by virtue of the power vested in him. (Philippians 3:21) To illustrate, when we say King Henry was on the throne of England, we do not refer to the royal bench itself. When we say that he was on the throne, we refer to the time when he ruled England. Right hand signifies the chief place position of excellence or favor, next to the chief ruler. Jesus’ words to Caiaphas agree with this thought: “Hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:24) He will be on the right when coming, and will remain on the right hand during the Millennial age, and forever.

Jesus Died When He Was Here —
He Returns to Restore Mankind

(9) A further examination of God’s revealed plans gives a broader view of the object of both the first and second advents. We should remember that both events stand related as parts of one plan. The specific work of the first advent was to provide a ransom for mankind. That of the second advent is to restore, and bless, and liberate those ransomed. Having given his life a ransom for all, our Savior ascended to present that sacrifice to the Father, thus making reconciliation for mankind’s sin. He waits and permits “the ruler of this world” to continue the rule of evil until mankind has completely learned the lesson of its results. In the meantime God has been selecting a few here and there to become his sons so that they might participate as part of Abraham’s seed for the blessing of all the families of the earth. When this work of selecting the “sons of God” is completed, then the work of giving to the world of mankind the great blessings secured for them by Jesus’ sacrifice will be due to commence, and he will come forth to bless all the families of the earth. — 1 Timothy 2:6; Galatians 3:26,29; Genesis 22:18; Romans 8:19-21.

(10) True, the restoring and blessing could have commenced at once, when the ransom price was paid by the Redeemer. Then the coming of Messiah would have been but one event — the reign and blessing beginning at once, as the apostles at first expected. (Acts 1:6) But God had provided “some better thing for us” — Jesus’ Disciples. (Hebrews 11:40) Hence it is in our interest that the reign of Christ is separated from the sufferings of the Head by these nineteen centuries.

The Present Time Is For the Selection of A People for His Name

(11) The period between the first and the second advents, between the ransom for all and the blessing for all, is for the trial and selection of the Church, which is the body of Christ. Otherwise there would have been only the one advent. The work which will be done during the period of his second presence, in the Millennium, would have followed the resurrection of Jesus. Or, instead of saying that the work of the second advent would have followed at once the work of the first, let us say rather that had Jehovah not purposed the selection of a people for his name, the first advent would not have taken place when it did. It would have occurred at the time of the second advent, and there would have been but the one. For God has evidently designed the permission of evil for a certain period of time, as well as that the cleansing and restoration of all will be accomplished during a certain period of time — 1,000 years.

(12) Thus seen, the coming of Jesus, as the sacrifice and ransom for sinners, was just long enough in advance of the blessing and restoring time to allow for the selection of “the sons of God” to be heirs of God in the work of blessing all the families of the earth. This will account for the apparent delay on God’s part in giving the blessings promised, and provided for in the ransom. The blessings will come in due time, as at first planned, though, for a glorious purpose, the price was provided longer beforehand than men would have expected.

(13) The apostle Peter informs us that Jesus has been absent from earth — in heaven — during all the intervening time from his ascension to the beginning of the times of restoration, or the Millennial Age — “whom the heaven must retain until the times of restoration of all things,” etc. (Acts 3:21) The Scriptures thus teach that the object of our Lord’s second advent is the restoration of all things, and that at the time of his appearing the nations are so far from being converted as to be angry (Revelation 11:18) and in opposition. Thus it must be admitted that either the Church will fail to accomplish her mission, and that the plan of God will be thus far frustrated, or else, as we claim and have shown, that the conversion of the world in the present age was not expected of the Church, but that her mission has been to preach the Good News in all the world for a witness, and to prepare herself under divine direction for her great future work. God has not yet by any means exhausted his power for the world’s conversion. No! Even more than that: he has not yet even attempted the world’s conversion.

(14) This may seem a strange statement to some, but let such reflect that if God has attempted such a work he has signally failed. As we have seen, only a small fraction of earth’s billions have ever intelligently heard the only name whereby they must be saved. We have only forcibly stated the views, and teachings of some of the leading denominations — Baptists, Presbyterians and others, that is, that God is electing or selecting out of the world a “little flock,” a Church. They believe that God will do no more than choose this Church, while we find the Scriptures teaching a further step in the divine plan — a restoration for the world, to be accomplished through the elect Church, when completed and glorified. The “little flock,” the sheep of this age who hear the Lord’s voice and follow him, are the body of the “Seed” in or by whom all the families of the earth are to be blessed.

(15) Those who claim that Jehovah has been trying for thousands of years to convert the world, and failing all the time, must find it difficult to reconcile such views with the Bible assurance that all God’s purposes will be accomplished, and that his Word will not return to him void, but will prosper in the thing for which it was sent. (Isaiah 55:11) The fact that the world has not yet been converted, and that the knowledge of Jehovah has not yet filled the earth, is a proof that it has not yet been sent on that mission. — Isaiah 11:9.

The Election of Abraham’s Seed
Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:29

(16) For centuries traditional Christianity has been divided over the doctrines represented by the two lines of thought: Election and Free Grace. These two doctrines are usually presented as being in opposition to each other. Yet both evidently do have support from the Bible. This fact should lead us at once to suppose that in some way both must be true. However, in no way can they be reconciled except by observing Jehovah’s order and “rightly dividing the word of truth” on this subject. This order, as represented in Jehovah’s plan of the ages, if observed, will clearly show us that an Election has been in progress during the present and past ages. But the Bible also reveals that what is designated Free Grace is God’s gracious provision for the world in general during the Millennial Age. We remind our readers to keep in mind the distinctive features of the epochs and dispensations outlined in our study, Jehovah’s Plan of the Ages, in order to see that the passages relating to Election apply to the present and past ages, while those which teach Free Grace are fully applicable to the next age.

(17) Nevertheless, Election, as taught in the Bible, is not the arbitrary coercion, or fatalism, usually believed and taught by its advocates. It is a selection according to fitness and adaptability to the end God has in view, during the period appointed for that purpose.

(18) The doctrine of Free Grace, advocated by Arminians, is also a much grander display of God’s abounding favor than has been generally taught by its traditional advocates. God’s grace or favor in Christ is ever free, in the sense of being unmerited. Nonetheless, since the fall of man into sin to the present time, certain of God’s favors have been restricted to special individuals, nations, and classes. In contrast, in the next age all the world will be invited to share the favors then offered, on the conditions then to be made known to all. Then whoever will may come and drink at life’s fountain freely. — Revelation 22:17.

(19) Glancing backward, we notice the selection or election of Abraham and certain of his offspring as the channels through which the promised Seed, the blesser of all the families of the earth, should come. (Galatians 3:29; Genesis 22:18) We note also that God chose the nation of Israel to provide an illustration of things to come. (1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 10:1) Their deliverance from Egypt, their Canaan, their covenants, their laws, their sacrifices for sins, etc., all provide a miniature and typical representation of the real priesthood and sacrifices for the purifying of the world of mankind. God told Israel: “You only have I known of all the families of earth.” (Amos 3:2) Jehovah’s special recognition was upon the people of Israel only until Christ came; yes, and afterwards, for his ministry was confined to them, and he would not permit his disciples to go to others. Therefore he told them as he sent them out: “Do not go into the way of the nations, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans.” Why did Jesus not want them to go to the other nations? He explains: “I was not send to any but the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5,6; 15:24) Thus Jesus and his apostles confined their work to this people until after Jesus’ death, and for some time thereafter.

(20) This special witness to the nation of Israel was to permit the Jews, as God’s chosen people, first opportunity to take advantage of the Good News message. To accept the Good News meant that they had been called to a new election, an election based on faith. They no longer belonged to the Law Age and its ordinances, but the new age that was just beginning. Only a few of the Israelites took the opportunity. The majority rejected the Good News. — Romans 9:30-32; 1 Corinthians 1:24.

(21) So Jehovah turned to the nations to take out of them “a people for his name.” The election of faith, first given to the Israelites, was extended to all people. (Acts 15:14) The message went out to all parts of the world at that time. (Acts 17:6) And the call has gone out ever since. While many have claimed to believe in the Messiah, only a few have truly become sons of God. Today most of the world still lies in darkness concerning Jesus. In many places there are still people who have never even heard of Jesus. But the message has gone to where there are those whom God recognizes as his. (John 10:14) These, in turn, recognize the voice of their Lord and follow him. (John 10:4) When the called-out company (called to be sons and heirs of God — Roman 8:17) is complete, then the plan of God for the world’s salvation will be only beginning.

(22) The Good News age, so far from closing the Church’s mission, is only a necessary preparation for the great future work. For this promised and coming blessing, the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:22, 19) It is then that free grace in its fullest measure will be seen. Then the joint-heirs with Jesus will have become one as bride with their Lord. It is then the scripture will be fulfilled: “And the Spirit and the bride say: `Come!’ And let him who hears say: `Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” — Revelation 22:17.

(23) Many realize that there will be blessings to come to the world under the coming dispensation, but do not include those in the grave as part of the blessings. But as surely as Jesus died for all, all must have the blessings and opportunities which he purchased with his own precious blood. (2 Corinthians 5:14; 15:22) Hence we should expect blessings in the Millennial age upon all those in their graves as well as upon those not in them. (John 5:28,29) Thus we see the harmony of the Bible’s teachings in the election of this age and free grace offered to all in the next age.

(24) There have been billions of people who have lived upon the earth since Adam’s creation — a very, very broad estimate is one hundred and fifty billion (See Endnote A). Yet of these billions our broadest estimate is that much less than one billion have been truly dedicated people of God. This would leave one hundred and forty-nine billion (149,000,000,000) who have gone down into the grave without faith and hope in the only name given under heaven or among men whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:10-12) Indeed, the vast majority of these never knew or heard of Jesus, and could not believe in him of whom they had not heard. — Romans 10:14.

(25) What, we ask, has become of this vast multitude, of which figures give a wholly inadequate idea? What is, and is to be, their condition? Did God make no provision for these, whose condition and circumstances he must have foreseen? Or did he, from the foundation of the world, make a wretched and merciless provision for their hopeless, eternal torment, as many religious leaders claim? (See Endnote B) Or has he yet in store for them, in the heights and depths and lengths and breadths of his plan, an opportunity for all to come to the knowledge of that only name, and, by becoming obedient to the conditions, to enjoy everlasting life? Every thinking Disciple of Jesus should yearn to see these questions answered truthfully and in harmony with the personal attributes of Jehovah. To these questions comes a variety of answers:

(26) Atheism answers: They are eternally dead: there is no hereafter: they will never live again.

(27) Calvinism answers: They were not elected to be saved. God foreordained and predestinated them to be lost — to go to hell — and they are there now, writhing in agony, where they will ever remain, without hope.

(28) Arminianism answers: We believe that God excuses many of them on account of ignorance. Those who did the best they knew how will be sure of being a part of the “Church of the Firstborn,” even though they never heard of Jesus.

(29) To this last view the majority of professing Christians of all denominations assent (notwithstanding the creeds of some to the contrary), from a feeling that any other view would be irreconcilable with justice on God’s part. But do the Scriptures support this last view? Do they teach that ignorance is a ground for deliverance? No! The grounds for deliverance mentioned in the Scriptures is faith in Christ as our Redeemer and Lord. “By grace you have been saved through faith.” (Ephesians 2:8) Justification by faith is the underlying principle by which Jehovah is accepting worship in the present evil world. When asked: “What must I do to be saved?,” the apostles answered: “Exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:30,31) “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” — Acts 4:12.

(30) But Paul reasons that a man must hear the Good News before he can believe. “How then will they call upon him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” — Romans 10:14.

Hope For The Ignorant Masses

(31) Some claim that Paul teaches that ignorance will save men, when he says that “the nations, which do not have the law, are a law unto themselves.” (Romans 2:14) They conclude from this that the law which their conscience furnishes is sufficient to justify them. But such persons misunderstand what Paul was saying. His argument is that the whole world is guilty before God. (Romans 3:19) He argues that the nations, who did not have the written law, were condemned, not justified, by the light of conscience, which, whether it excused them or accused them proved that they were short of perfection and unworthy of life, even as the Jews who had the written law were condemned by it. “For by law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20) The law given to the Jew revealed his weakness, and was intended to show him that he was unable to justify himself before God. “By the works of the Law no flesh shall be justified.” (Galatians 2:16) The written law condemned the Jews, and the nations had light enough of conscience to condemn them. Thus every mouth is stopped from claiming the right to life, and all the world stands guilty before God. — Romans 3:19.

(32) James (2:10) tells us that whosoever shall keep the whole law, except to offend in one point, is still a transgressor against the law and cannot claim everlasting life as a result. (Romans 3:20) Indeed, “there is none righteous; no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) So the Word of God leaves no door to life except one. None of the fallen human race can secure for himself everlasting life by his works, no matter how good they might be. Fallen man at his very best is still vanity. (Psalm 39:5) But just as no one can claim life by keeping the law, neither can he claim life through ignorance of the law, for even those without law are a law unto themselves, thus showing that they are condemned.

(33) Many, however, insist that God does not condemn the ignorant. They do not understand the truth about the “lost.” They have been taught that the “lost” will be sent to a place of eternal and hopeless torment. (See Endnote C) These demonstrate a goodness of heart and believe that God is also good. But we should not ignore the scriptures we have already discussed. These scriptures show that the ignorant are condemned. But at the same time the Bible shows that God has a blessing for all in a better way than through ignorance.

(34) Do those who believe in eternal life through ignorance act in accordance with what they say they believe? No. Though they profess that the ignorant will receive life on account of their ignorance, they continue to send missionaries to the non-Christians at the cost of thousands of valuable lives and millions of dollars. Yet only about one in a thousand of the non-professors of Christianity are converted as a result of these missionary efforts. If they all, or even half of them, would receive eternal life because of ignorance, it is doing them a positive injury to send missionaries to teach them about Jesus. If this idea should be correct, then it would be much better to let them remain in ignorance; for then a much larger proportion could receive life through their ignorance. Continuing the same line of argument, might we not reason that if God had left all men in ignorance, all would have received life without end? If so, the coming and death of Jesus was useless, the preaching and suffering the apostles and other dedicated servants of God were in vain, and the so-called good news, instead of being good news, is very bad news. The sending of missionaries to those not professing Christianity by those who believe the Calvinistic or fatalistic view of election, that the eternal destiny of each individual was unalterably fixed before he had an existence, is even more absurd and unreasonable.

(35) But the Bible is full of the missionary spirit! Yet it does not teach that there are several ways of salvation — one by faith, another by works, and another by ignorance. Neither does it teach the God-dishonoring doctrine of fatalism. While it shows every other door of hope closed against the race, it throws wide open the one, only door, and proclaims that whosoever has an ear to hear may enter into life. (Matthew 11:15; John 5:24) But it also shows that all who do not now see or appreciate the blessed privilege of entering will in due time be brought to a full knowledge and appreciation. (John 10:4,16 [See Endnote D]; 12:47; Isaiah 29:18,24) The only way, by which any and all of the condemned race may come to God, is not by meritorious works, neither by ignorance, but by faith in the precious blood of Jesus, which takes away the sin of the world. (1 Peter 1:19; John 1:29) This is the good news, the good tidings of great joy, “which will be for all people.”

(36) Suppose we now look at these things just as God tells us of them, and leave the clearing of his name to himself. Let us inquire: What has become of the billions who have died without Jesus?

(37) Whatever may have become of them, we may be sure they are not now in a condition of suffering. We know this because not only does the Bible tell us that the full and complete reward is not given to the Church until Jesus returns, when he will reward every man (Matthew 16:27), but that the unjust are to receive their punishment then also. Whatever may be their present condition, it cannot be their full reward. Peter says: “Jehovah knows how to reserve the unjust until the day of judgment to be punished” (2 Peter 2:9) — and he will do so.

(38) But the thought that so many of our fellow creatures should at any time be eternally lost from lack of having had the knowledge which is necessary to salvation would be sad indeed to all who have a spark of love or pity. Then, too, there are numerous scriptures which cannot be harmonized with such an idea. Let us see: In the light of the past and the present as the only opportunities, laying aside all hope through a restoration in the coming age, how are we to understand the statements: “God is love,” and “God so love the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish”? (1 John 4:8; John 3:16) Would it not seem that if God loved the world so much he might have made provision, not only that believers might be saved, but also that all might hear in order to believe?

(39) Again, when we read: “That was the true light that enlightens every man that comes into the world” (John 1:9), our observation says, “Not so; every man has not been enlightened; we cannot see that our Lord has enlightened more than a few of earth’s billions.” Even though there has been a great increase in knowledge in our days, the vast majority of the world has still not been enlightened concerning the truth. (2 Timothy 3:7; Daniel 12:10) Neither did the Sodomites or multitudes of others in past ages give any evidence of enlightenment.

(40) We read that Jesus the Messiah, by the undeserved favor of God, tasted death “for every man.” (Hebrews 2:9) But let us suppose that there have been one hundred and fifty billion people that have lived upon the earth. If Jesus tasted death for one hundred and fifty billion people, and from some cause that sacrifice become operative to only one billion, was not the redemption comparatively a failure? And in that case, is not the apostle’s statement too broad? When we read: “Look! I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to ALL PEOPLE” (Luke 2:10), and looking about us, see that it is only a “few” that it has been good tidings, and not to all people, we would be compelled to wonder whether the angels had not overstated the goodness and breadth of their message, and overrated the importance of the work to be accomplished by the Messiah whom they announced.

(41) Another scripture states: “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all.” (1 Timothy 2:5,6) A ransom for all? Then why should not all involved have some benefit from Messiah’s death? Why should not all come to a knowledge of the truth, that they may believe?

(42) Without the key, how dark, how inconsistent, these statements appear. However, when we find the key to understanding God’s purposes, these texts all declare with one voice: “God is love!” This key is found in the latter part of the text last quoted — “who gave himself a ransom for all, TO BE WITNESSED IN DUE TIME.” God has a due time for everything. He could have witnessed it to these in their past lifetime. Since he did not, it proves that their due time must be future. For those who will be of the Church, “the saints” who share the kingdom honors, the present is “due time” to hear. (1 Corinthians 6:2; Matthew 13:13,16) As Jesus said: “I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me should not remain in darkness.” Additionally, he said: “And if anyone hears my words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects me, and does not receive my words, has that which will judge him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” Though Jesus paid our ransom before we were born, it was not our “due time” to hear of it for long years afterward, and only the appreciation of it brought responsibility; and this, only to the extent of our ability and appreciation. The same principle applies to all. In God’s due time it will be witnessed to all, and all will then have opportunity to believe and to be blessed by it.

(43) The prevailing opinion is that death ends all opportunity for salvation. Notwithstanding, there is no scripture which so teaches. Further, all the above, and many more scriptures, would be meaningless or worse, if death ends all hope for the ignorant masses of the world. One scripture quoted to prove the popular view is: “Where the tree falls, there it will be.” (Ecclesiastes 11:3) If this has any relation to man’s future, it indicates that whatever his condition when he enters the tomb, no change takes place until he is awakened out of it. This is the unvarying teaching of all scriptures bearing on the subject.

(44) God does not purpose to save men on account of ignorance, but wills “all men to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) Yet the masses of mankind have died in ignorance. And the Bible tells us that “there is no work, nor devising, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, the place to which you are going.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) Therefore God has prepared for the awakening of the dead. Then they may come to know him and attain faith and salvation at that time. Hence his method is, that “as in Adam all are dying, even so in Christ will all be made alive, but each one in his own order.” Thus the anointed first fruits of this age are raised first. Afterward, during the Kingdom age, all who will become his during the thousand years of his presence (Greek, parousia, mistranslated coming) will also be raised. It will then be Jehovah’s due time for all to know him, from the least to the greatest. — Jeremiah 31:34; 1 Corinthians 15:22,23.

(45) As death came by the first Adam, so life comes by the Anointed One, the second Adam. Everything that mankind lost through being in the first Adam is to be restored to those who exercise faith in obedience to the second Adam. When awakened, with the advantage of experience with evil, which Adam lacked, those who thankfully accept the redemption as God’s gift may continue to live everlastingly on the original condition of obedience. Perfect obedience will be required, and perfect ability to obey will be given, under the righteous reign of the Prince of Peace. Here is the salvation offered to the world. How wonderful it is to see how the election of this age will bring blessings to all under free grace in the next age.

(46) There are many scriptures in the Bible that are ordinarily ignored by traditional Christianity. One scripture in particular states: “We trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe.” God will save all men, but will not specially (in a special way) save any except those who come to him through Jesus. God’s arbitrary salvation for all men is not such as will conflict with their freedom of will, or their liberty of choice, to cause them to live forever against their wills. It will be just the same as Moses told Israel: `I have set before you life and death, . . . therefore choose life, that you may live.’ — Deuteronomy 30:19.

(47) Simeon contrasted these two salvations, saying: “My eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared before the face of all peoples — a light to enlighten to the nations, and the glory of your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32) The “Israel” spoken of here is the true Israel of God, for “they are not all Israel who are of Israel.” (Romans 9:6) “He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter.” (Romans 2:28,29) Thus Simeon’s statement is in harmony with the declaration of the apostle Paul to Timothy, that Jesus the Anointed, the mediator, gave himself a ransom for all to be witnessed to all IN DUE TIME. (1 Timothy 2:5,6) This is that which will come to all men, regardless of faith or will on their part. This good tidings of a Savior will be to all people. (Luke 2:10,11) The special salvation, however, from sin and death will come only to his people (Matthew 1:21) — those who believe in him — for we read that the wrath of God remains on the unbeliever. — John 3:36.

(48) We see, then, that the general salvation, which will come to every individual, consists of light from the true light, and an opportunity to choose life. As most of the race is in the tomb, it will be necessary to bring them forth from the grave to testify to them the good tidings of a Savior. The special salvation which believers now enjoy in hope (Romans 8:24) is a full release from the thraldom of sin, and the corruption of death, into the glorious liberty of the children of God. This glorious liberty will also be revealed to all in the next age that they might “believe in that day.” (2 Thessalonians 1:10) But attainment to all these blessings will depend on heart compliance with the laws of God’s Kingdom — the rapidity of the attainment to perfection indicating the degree of love for the King and for his law of love. If any, enlightened by the Truth, and brought to a knowledge of the love of God, and restored (either actually or reckonedly) to human perfection, become “fearful,” “draw back,” and prove “untrustworthy” (Hebrews 10:38,39; Revelation 21:8) will be destroyed from among the people. (Acts 3:23) This is the second death.

(49) Thus, we see that all these difficult texts are explained by the statement — “to be testified in due time.” In due time, that true light will enlighten every man that has come into the world. (John 1:9) In due time, it will be “good tidings of great joy to all people.” And in no other way can these scriptures be used without twisting. Paul carries out this line of argument with emphasis in Romans 5:18,19. He reasons that, as all men were condemned to death because of Adam’s transgression, so also, Christ’s righteousness, and obedience even unto death, have become a ground for justification. Further, as all lost life in the first Adam, so all, aside from personal demerit, may receive eternal life by accepting the second Adam.

(50) Peter tells us that the promises of restoration are spoken of by all the holy prophets. (Acts 3:19-21) They do all teach it. Ezekiel says of the valley of dry bones: “These bones are the whole house of Israel.” And God says to Israel: “Look, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And you will know that I am Jehovah, when I . . . put my spirit in you, and I will place you in your own land; then you will know that I, Jehovah, have spoken it, and performed it.” — Ezekiel 37:11-14.

(51) To this Paul’s words agree (Romans 11:25,26) — “Blindness in part has happened to Israel until the full number of the people of the nations will have come in. Then all Israel will be saved.” This will mean that Israel will be brought back from their cast off condition. “For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:2) For a time they have been shut out from his favor while the various elect classes are being selected from all nations. When this work is completed, the prophecies show that God’s favor with Israel will be reinstated. The prophets are full of statements of how God will plant them again, and they will never again be plucked out of their land. “This is what Jehovah, the God of Israel, says: . . . `I will set my eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again into this land; and I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am Jehovah. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with their whole heart.'” (Jeremiah 24:5-7; 31:28; 32:40-42; 33:-6-16) These cannot merely refer to restorations from former captivities in Babylon, Syria, etc., for they have since been plucked up.

Every Man Will Die For His Own Sins

(52) Furthermore, Jehovah tells us: “In those days, they will say no more: `The fathers have eaten the sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge,’ but every one [who dies] will die for his own wrongdoing.” (Jeremiah 31:29,30) This is not the case now. Each does not now die for his own wrongdoing, but for Adam’s sin — “In Adam all are dying.” He ate the sour grape of sin, and our fathers continued to eat them, entailing further sickness and misery upon their children, thus hastening the penalty, death. The day in which “every man [who dies] will die for his own wrongdoing,” — for his own sin only — is the Millennial or Restoration Day.

(53) Though many of the prophecies and promises of future blessing seem to apply to Israel only, as a typical people the promises made to them, while sometimes having a special application to themselves, generally have also a wider application to the whole world of mankind which that nation typified. While Israel as a nation was typical of the whole world, the Levitical tribe was typical of the various elect classes now near completion. The sacrifices, cleansings and atonements made for Israel typified the `better sacrifices,’ fuller cleansings and real atonement “for the sins of the whole world.” — 1 John 2:2; Hebrews 9:23.

(54) And not only so, but God mentions by name other nations and promises their restoration. As a forcible illustration we mention the Sodomites. Surely, if we should find the restoration of the Sodomites clearly taught, we may feel satisfied of the truth of this glorious doctrine of Restoration for all mankind, spoken of by the mouth of the holy prophets. And why should the Sodomites not have an opportunity to reach perfection and everlasting life as well as Israel, or any of us? True, they were not righteous, but neither was Israel, nor were we who now hear the Good News. “There is none righteous; no not one,” aside from the imputed righteousness of Christ, who died for all. Our Savior’s own words tell us that although God rained down fire from heaven and destroyed them all because of their wickedness, yet the Sodomites were not as accountable for their sins as were the Jews, who had more knowledge. (Genesis 19:24; Luke 17:29) So to the Jews of Capernaum he said: “If the mighty works which have been done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.” — Matthew 11:23.

Sodomites Will Return

(55) Hence, our Lord teaches that the Sodomites did not have a full opportunity. Therefore, he guarantees them such an opportunity when he adds (verse 24): “But I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.” The character of the day of judgment and its work is shown in our studies: The Day of Judgment and Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment. In this study we merely call attention to the point that it will be a tolerable time for Capernaum, and yet more tolerable for Sodom. Even though they did not receive full knowledge, nor all the blessings designed to come through the “Seed,” yet Capernaum had sinned against more light than the people of Sodom.

(56) If Capernaum and all Israel are to be remembered and blessed under the “New Covenant,” sealed by the blood of Jesus, why should not the Sodomites also be blessed among “all the families of the earth”? They assuredly will be. And let it be remembered that since God “rained down fire from heaven and destroyed them all” many centuries before Jesus’ day, when their restoration is spoken of, it implies their awakening, their coming from the tomb.

The Blessing
Of All Nations By the Seed Of Abraham

(57) Let us now examine the prophecy of Ezekiel 16:48-63. Read it carefully. God here speaks of Israel, and compares her with her neighbor Samaria, and also with the Sodomites, of whom he says: “I took them away as I saw good.” Neither Jesus nor the Prophet offers any explanation of the seeming inequality of God’s dealings in destroying Sodom and permitting others more guilty than Sodom to go unpunished. That will all be made clear when, in “due time,” his great designs are made manifest. The Prophet simply states that God “saw good” to do so, and Jesus adds that it will be more tolerable for them in the day of judgment than for others more guilty. Upon the supposition that death ends all probation, and that thereafter none may have opportunity to come to a knowledge of the truth and to obey it, we may well inquire: “Why did God see good to take away these people without giving them a chance of salvation through the knowledge of the only name whereby they can be saved?” The answer is, because it was not yet their due time. In “due time” they will be awakened from death and brought to a knowledge of the truth, and thus blessed together with all families of the earth, by the promised “Seed.” They will then be on trial for everlasting life.

(58) With this thought, and with no other, can we understand the dealings of the God of love with those Amalekites and other nations whom he not only permitted but commanded Israel to destroy, saying: “Go, strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not. Slay both man and woman, infant and the nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” (1 Samuel 15:3) This seemingly reckless destruction of life seems irreconcilable with the personal attribute of love attributed to God, and with the teaching of Jesus, “Love your enemies,” etc., until we come to recognize the systematic order of God’s plan, the “due time” for the accomplishment of every feature of it, and that every member of the human race has a place in it.

(59) We can now see that those Amalekites, Sodomites and others were set forth as examples of God’s just indignation, and of his determination to destroy finally and utterly evildoers. Their examples will be of service not only to others, but also to themselves, when their day of judgment or trial comes. Those people might as well die in that way as from disease and plague. It mattered little to them, as they were merely learning to know evil, so when on trial, in due time, they might learn righteousness, and can discriminate and choose the good and have life.

(60) Let us now examine the prophecy further. After comparing Israel with Sodom and Samaria, and pronouncing Israel the most blameworthy (Ezekiel 16:48-54), Jehovah says: “When I bring their captive ones back, the captive ones of Sodom and her daughters, and the captive ones of Samaria and her daughters, then I will bring back the captives of your captive ones in the midst of them.” The captivity referred to can be no other than their captivity in death. Those mentioned were then dead. In death all are captives; and Christ comes to open the doors of the grave, and to set at liberty the captives. (Isaiah 61:1; Zechariah 9:11) In verse 55 this is called a “return to their former state” — a restoration.

All Israel Will Be Saved
Romans 11:26-29

(61) Many are willing enough to accept of God’s mercy through Christ for forgiveness of their own trespasses and weaknesses, but have difficulty in believing that the same favor should be applicable to all the world during the Millennial Age. Many admit that Jesus, by the favor of God, tasted death for every man, but cannot conceive of this having a genuine application to every man. Some have suggested that Jehovah, in speaking the prophecy recorded by Ezekiel, must be speaking ironically to the Jews. This would mean that Jehovah would be just as willing to bring back the Sodomites as them, but had no intention of restoring either. Let us see how the succeeding verses agree with this idea. Jehovah says: “`Nevertheless, I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant. Then, you will remember your ways and be ashamed, when you will receive your sisters….And I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am Jehovah — that you may remember and be humiliated, and never open your mouth any more because of your shame, when I am appeased toward you for all that you have done.’ says Jehovah God.” When a promise is thus signed by the Great Jehovah, all who have set to their seal that God is true may rejoice in its certainty with confidence; especially those who realize that these New Covenant blessings have been confirmed of God in Christ, whose precious blood is to seal the covenant.

(62) To this Paul adds his testimony, saying: “And so all Israel [living and dead] will be saved [recovered from blindness], as it is written: `There will come our of Zion the Deliverer, and will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is my covenant with them when I will take away their sins.’ . . . They are beloved for the fathers’ sakes; because the gifts and calling of God are not affairs to be repented of.” — Romans 11:26-29.

(63) We need not wonder that Jews, Sodomites, Samaritans, and all mankind, will be ashamed and humiliated when in his own “due time” God shows forth the riches of his favor. Yes, many of those who are not God’s children will be humiliated and amazed when they see how God so loved the WORLD, and how much his thoughts and plans were above their own. — Isaiah 55:8,9.

(64) It has been generally believed that God’s blessings are all and only for the selected Church, but God’s plan is wider than what most suppose. He has given his Church “exceedingly great and precious promises,” but he has also made bountiful provision for the world which he so loved to redeem. The Jews made a very similar mistake in supposing that all the promises of God were to and for them alone. When the “due time” came for others from the nations to be favored, only a remnant of Israel, whose hearts were large enough to rejoice in this wider evidence of God’s grace, shared that increased favor. (Romans 11:5) The rest were blinded by prejudice and human tradition. (Romans 11:7,8; Mark 7:5-8) Let all who now in the popular religions of this world take heed lest they be found in opposition to the true light, and so for a time be blinded to its glory and blessings. — 1 Timothy 3:1,5.

God’s Plan Far Superior

(65) How different is this glorious plan of God for the selection of a few now for the blessing of the many in the future, from the distortions of these truths, as represented by the two opposing views — Calvinism and Arminianism. The former both denies the Bible doctrine of Free Grace and miserably distorts the glorious doctrine of Election. The latter denies the doctrine of Election and fails to comprehend the blessed fullness of God’s Free Grace.

(66) Calvinism says: God is all-wise; he knew the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10); and as all his purposes will be accomplished (Isaiah 55:11), he never could have intended to save any but a few, the Church. (Matthew 7:14) These he elected and foreordained to be eternally saved (Romans 8:28,29); all others were equally foreordained to eternal torment; for “Known to God are all of his works from the beginning of the world.” — Acts 15:18.

(67) This view has its good features. It recognizes God’s omniscience. (Isaiah 40:13,14) This would be our ideal of a great God, were it not that two essential qualities of greatness are lacking, namely, love and justice, neither of which is exemplified in bringing into the world one hundred and forty-nine billions of creatures doomed to eternal torture before they were born, and mocked with protestations of his love. Since God is love, and justice is the foundation of his throne (Psalm 89:14), such cannot be his true character. — 2 Timothy 2:13.

(68) Arminianism says: Yes, God is love (1 John 4:8); and in bringing humanity into the world he meant them no harm — only good. (Genesis 1:26-31) But Satan succeeded in tempting the first pair, and thus sin entered into the world, and death by sin. (Romans 5:12) And ever since, God has been doing all he can to deliver man from his enemy, even to the giving of his Son. (John 3:16) And though now, after thousands of years, the Good News has reached only a very small proportion of mankind, yet we do hope and trust that within some years more, through the energy and liberality of the church, God will so far have remedied the evil introduced by Satan that all living may at least know of his love, and have an opportunity to believe and be saved.

(69) While this view presents God as a being full of loving and benevolent designs for his creatures, it implies that he lacks ability and foreknowledge adequate to the accomplishment of his benevolent designs: that he is deficient in wisdom and power. From this view it would appear that while God was engaged in arranging and devising for the good of his newly-created children, Satan slipped in and by one master-stroke upset all God’s plans to such an extent that, even after exhausting all his power, God must spend thousands of years to reinstate righteousness, even to such a degree that the remainder of the race who are so privileged to live then will have an opportunity to choose good as readily as evil. But the billions who lived before the time the church finally has let everyone know of God are, according to this view, lost to all eternity, in spite of God’s love for them, because Satan interfered with his plans. Thus Satan would get thousands into eternal torment to one that God saves to glory.

(70) In reality this view exalts men’s ideas of the wisdom and power of Satan, and lowers their estimation of these attributes of God, of whom the Psalmist to the contrary declares that: “He spoke and it was done; he commanded and it stood fast.” (Psalm 33:9) But no: God was not surprised nor overtaken by the adversary. (Isaiah 43:13) Neither has Satan in any measure thwarted his plans. (Isaiah 46:10,11) God is, and always has been, perfect master of the situation. (Isaiah 14:24,27) In the end it will be seen that all has been working together to the accomplishment of his purposes. — Ephesians 1:11.

(71) While the doctrines of election and free grace, as taught by Calvinism and Arminianism, could never be harmonized with each other, with reason, or with the Bible, yet these two glorious Bible doctrines are perfectly harmonious and beautiful, seen from the standpoint of the plan of the ages.

(72) We see, then, that many of the great and glorious features of God’s plan for human salvation from sin and death lie in the future. The second advent of our Lord Jesus is the designed first step in the accomplishment of those blessings. Since this is so, should we not even more earnestly long for the time of his second advent than the less informed Jew looked and longed for his first advent? We have seen that the time of evil, injustice and death is to be brought to an end through the dominion of power which Jesus will then exercise. Then righteousness, truth and peace are to be universal. Who should not rejoice to see his day? And who that is now suffering for Christ, inspired by the precious promises of God for strength and deliverance, will not lift up his head and rejoice at any evidence of the approach of the King, knowing thereby that our deliverance and our glorification draws closer?

Endnotes

A. Some Bible students suggest that the proportion of the dead to be raised will be 144,000 to each of joint-heirs with the lamb. (Revelation 14:1; Romans 8:17; 144,000 X 144,000 = 20,736,000,000)

C. For thorough investigation of the doctrine of eternal torment see out studies on the Hereafter.

D. John 10:16: There is only one fold for Jehovah’s people in this age. In it all his true ones of this Gospel age find rest and shelter and peace in faith in obedience even as evil is all around. The “other sheep” are not of this fold, however. The “other sheep” are those of the world of mankind who hear the Master’s voice in the next age and also become part of his flock in then. We need to note that the scripture as it reads in the King James Version is not the best translation. The New American Standard reads: “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold [Strong’s #833 – , yard]; I must bring them also, and they shall hear My voice, and they shall become one flock [Strong’s #4167, µ – flock] with one shepherd.” Thus the sheep in the present age are nourished in a yard or pasture that is hostile to them – this present evil world. The sheep of the next age will be developed under favorable conditions, the new earth, wherein righteousness will dwell.

For more information on the ransom, see:

Atonement/Ransom Resource Page

Questions

1. How do we know that our Master intended his disciples to understand that he would return again?

2. What scripture shows that Jesus did not return at the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit or at the destruction of Jerusalem? How so?

3. What scriptures show that the world will not be converted before Jesus returns? How so?

4. What do some believe that the work of the church in its present condition to be, and, according to this view, how will it be ended?

5. What do God’s Word and plan show when taken as a whole?

6. Does Matthew 24:14 mean that the world will be converted before Jesus returns? Why do you so answer?

7. What is the main object of the good news during this age?

8. Does Psalm 110:1 teach that the world will be converted before Jesus returns? Why do you so answer?

9. What specific work was accomplished at the first advent? What will be the work of the second advent? What is happening in between the two events?

10. Why did the blessing of the world not immediately follow Messiah’s death?

11. What has been occurring during the period between the ransom and the blessing of the world?

12. Thus how is the apparent delay in blessing the world accounted for?

13. In view of the Scriptures presented, what conclusions do we reach concerning the conversion of the world?

14. What step in the divine plan is almost always missing in the teachings of the traditional churches?

15. What scripture shows that Jehovah is not now trying to convert the world?

16. (a) What are the two main lines of thought respecting God’s purposes, which have divided traditional Christians for centuries? (b) Do both have scriptural support, and if so, what should we conclude? (c) And how only can these opposing doctrines be reconciled?

17. What is the nature of the Election taught in the scriptures?

18. Briefly, what does the Bible teach concerning Free Grace?

19. How was the doctrine of Election illustrated by God’s dealings with Abraham and the nation of Israel?

20. What was the effect of the special witness given to the nation of Israel?

21. How has God’s Election operated during the Good News Age?

22. Does the church’s mission end with the Good News Age?

23. Do the Scriptures hold forth any hope of Millennial blessings for those who are in their graves?

24. (a) What is the estimated number of human beings who have lived upon the earth since Adam’s creation? (b) And how many of these could reasonably have been saints of God?

25. What questions with respect this vast multitude must arise in the mind of every thoughtful person?

26. What reply does atheism make to these questions?

27. What does Calvinism answer?

28. What reply is given by Arminianism?

29. (a) To which of the foregoing views do the majority of professing Christians give assent? (b) What do the Scriptures say on this point?

30. What does the apostle Paul teach respecting the necessity for hearing the Good News in order to have faith and salvation?

31. (a) What text is quoted by some who claim Paul teaches that ignorance will save men? (b) Show how a proper understanding of the apostle’s argument contradicts this claim.

32. (a) How does the apostle James corroborate the apostle Paul’s position? (b) What is the only door of hope for the condemned race?

33. What is the belief of many professing Christians with respect to the salvation of ignorant children and non-Christians?

34. (a) Do these persons act in accordance with their professed belief? (b) If all the non-Christians would be saved through ignorance, what would be the most logical as well as the kindest course as respects sending missionaries to the non-Christian peoples?

35. While the teaching of the Bible discountenances the idea of several ways of salvation, what is the only door of hope through which the condemned race may enter into everlasting life?

36. & 37. Whatever may have become of the billions who have died, what Scriptural assurance do we have that their present condition is not their full reward?

38. How can we harmonize the thought of any being lost through lack of the necessary knowledge, with the qualities of Jehovah as set forth in 1 John 4:8 and John 3:16?

39. With reference the scripture at John 1:9, what observations can be made?

40. & 41. What texts prove that Messiah’s sacrifice will be operative for “every man”?

42. (a) What is the key to understanding the divine purpose in the redemption of mankind? (b) How does the redemption apply to the different classes of humanity?

43. (a) What scripture is generally quoted to prove that all probation ends with this present life? (b) How is this scripture properly interpreted?

44. Briefly, what is the reasonable, beautiful and scriptural plan of God for the salvation of the world

45. What is the contrast between the first man Adam and the second Adam, Christ, as respects their relationship to mankind?

46. Explain 1 Timothy 4:10.

47. (a) How did Simeon contrast these two salvations? (b) What other texts agree with this statement?

48. What is the general salvation, and how will it be brought to mankind? (b) What is the special salvation of the church? (c) Upon what conditions will attainment of these blessings depend? (d) What is the “second death,” and who will suffer it?

49. How only can hitherto difficult and apparently contradictory texts on the foregoing subjects be harmonized?

50. (a) What is the apostle Peter’s statement regarding restoration and all the holy prophets? (b) What is the prophecy of Ezekiel with respect to Israel’s restoration?

51. What are the statements of the apostle Paul in Romans 11, and the prophecies of Jeremiah respecting Israel’s restoration?

52. Explain and apply the proverb: “The father’s have eaten the sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge,” etc. (Jeremiah 31:29,30)

53. How do we know that many of the prophecies and promises of future blessing, while seeming to apply to Israel only, are also generally applicable to the whole world?

54. In addition, what other nations besides Israel are mentioned by name and promised restoration?

55. How do we know that the Sodomites did not enjoy a full opportunity for salvation?

56. Since both the Israelites and Sodomites are to blessed under the “New Covenant,” guaranteed by the blood of Jesus, what does their restoration imply?

57. Upon the supposition that death ends all probation, and that thereafter none may have opportunity to come to a knowledge of the truth and to obey it, what question may be asked regarding the destruction of the Sodomites, and with what answer?

58. How can we understand the dealings of a God of love with those nations which he commanded Israel to “destroy utterly”?

59. How did the experiences of these wicked nations show forth the divine determination toward all evil-doers?

60. (a) What is meant by the “captive ones” of Sodom and Samaria and Israel, referred to in Ezekiel 16? (b) What must a “return to their former state” signify?

61. How do we know that Jehovah is not speaking ironically to Israel in this prophecy, as some contend?

62. What is the apostle Paul’s corroborative testimony on this point?

63. What will be sentiments of all mankind when “in due time” they will see how “God so loved the world”?

64. What mistake regarding Jehovah’s Plan and promises has been similarly made by both Jews and traditional Christians?

65. Briefly stated, how have the conflicting doctrines of Calvinism and Arminianism distorted the truth of God’s glorious Plan and purposes?

66. In detail, what does Calvinism teach?

67. What are the commendable features of this view, and in what two essential qualities is it lacking?

68. What does Arminianism have to say?

69. What is the redeeming feature of this view, and in what two important elements is it sadly deficient?

70. What is the natural effect of the Arminian view of the divine personage?

71. How only can these apparently conflicting doctrines of Election and Free Grace be harmonized?

72. In view of God’s glorious plans for the future, what must be the attitude of every true Christian respecting the second advent of our Master Jesus Christ — the first step toward the accomplishment of the long-promised and long-expected blessings for the world of mankind.

==========================

Related Studies

Jesus Saves the Whole World Condemned in Adam

The Watchtower’s Self-Contradiction About the Ransom

The Unforgivable Sin

The Church’s Divinely-Appointed Mission

Examining the Word “Hell”

Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment

Jehovah’s Plan of the Ages (r-blogger)

All Hebrew and Greek words are transliterated into English forms throughout.

 

(1) As we look around us today it may appear that Jehovah’s works have all gone bad. With all of the wars, killing, stealing, and other hurtful things we may think that Jehovah does not know what he is doing. But what we need to do is understand Jehovah’s completed work. Then we can understand how all the bad things happening now will help the whole world toward that finished purpose. We can see how Jehovah will use the bad things happening today to bring a better world for all people to live in. Gods finished work will universally declare his infinite wisdom and power. His plans will be seen to be in harmony with his glorious attributes.

 

Jehovah’s Purpose Does Not Change

 

(2) God tells us that he has a definitely fixed purpose, and that all his purposes will be accomplished. (Isaiah 46:9,10; 55:11) Since this is so, we should certainly want to apply ourselves to trying to understand what Jehovah’s plans are, so that we may be found in harmony with them. (Psalm 119:34) Jehovah tells us that he never changes his purposes: “Jehovah of hosts has sworn, saying: ‘Surely as I have thought, so will it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so will it be.'” “Jehovah of hosts has purposed, and who will nullify it?” “I am mighty and there is none mightier, and there is none like me … My counsel will stand, and I will do all my pleasure … Yes, I have spoken it, I will bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” (Isaiah 14:27; 46:9-11) For most people, God’s works appear to be haphazard or mysterious. This is because they do not understand or appreciate the final outcome. However, those who believe this testimony of his Word must acknowledge that his original and unalterable plan has been, and still is, progressing systematically to completion.

 

If you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures — then you will understand the reverence of Jehovah, and find the knowledge of God. — Proverbs 2:3-5.

The Three Kosmoi of 2 Peter 3:5-13

The Three Kosmoi of 2 Peter 3:5-13

(3) Mankind in general is groping in the darkness of ignorance. (Isaiah 60:2) They will have to wait for the actual developments of God’s plan before they can realize the glorious attributes of the Divine Architect. (Isaiah 29:18) Nevertheless, there is a small number of truly dedicated Disciples of Jesus who are being privileged to see by faith and the light of God’s lamp the foretold glories of the future. (1 Thessalonians 5:4,5; 1 Corinthians 2;12) With this knowledge they come to appreciate the otherwise mysterious or secret works of the past and the present. (1 Corinthians 1:7) If you have dedicated your life to God, or are considering dedicating your life to God, by all means apply yourself to God’s Word and prayer that through the holy spirit you may understand his purposes as you diligently inquire into the plans and specifications given in the Bible. (Proverbs 2:3-6) There we learn that the plan of God, with reference to man, spans three great periods of time, beginning with man’s creation and reaching into the endless future. (2 Peter 3:3-6,13) By designating the heavens and earth that were before the flood of Noah as that world (2 Peter 3:4,5), Peter, in effect, designates all three periods similarly each as a “world”, thus resulting in three worlds.

 

Great Epochs Called “Worlds”

(4) These three great epochs represent three distinct manifestations of divine providence. The first, from the creation of Adam to the flood, was under the administration of angels, and is called by Peter “THE WORLDÂ (KOSMOS) THAT WAS.” — 2 Peter 3:6.

(5) The second great epoch, from the flood to the establishment of the kingdom (rulership) of God, may be styled the world that now is. (2 Peter 3:7) The third world follows, in which righteousness is dwell, may be called “the world to come.”

 

World That Was

By the word of God the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was standing out of the water and in middle of the water. By this means the world that then was, perished. — 2 Peter 3:5,6

 

World That Now Is

But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved for the fire against the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly men. — 2 Peter 3:7

 

World to Come

Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, are looking for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell. — 2 Peter 3:13

(6) The third is to be a “world without end” (Isaiah 45:17) under divine administration, the kingdom (rulership) of God, and is called ‘THE WORLD TO COME — wherein dwells righteousness.’ — Hebrews 2:5; 2 Peter 3:13.

 

Three Great Worlds

(7) The first of these periods or “worlds,” under the administration of angels, was a failure; (Hebrews 2:2,5) the second, under the rule of Satan, the usurper, has been indeed an “evil world”; but the third will be an era of righteousness and of blessing to all the families of the earth. (Psalm 72:7; Isaiah 25:6-8) The last two of these “worlds” are most particularly mentioned, and the statements relative to them are in strong contrast.

(8) The present, or second period, is called “the present evil world,” not because there is nothing good in it, but because in it evil is permitted to predominate. “Now we call the proud happy; yes, they that work wickedness are set up; yes they that tempt God are even delivered.” — Malachi 3:15.

(9) The third world or epoch is mentioned as ‘THE WORLD TO COME, wherein dwells righteousness,’ not because there will be no evil in it, but because evil will not predominate. The blotting out of evil will be gradual, requiring all of the first thousand years. Evil will not rule then; it will not prosper; it will no longer be the wicked that will flourish; but “the righteous will flourish” (Psalm 72:7), the obedient will eat “the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19), and “the evil doer will be cut off.” — Psalm 37:9.

He will judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. The mountains will bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness. He will bring justice to the poor of the people; he will save the children of the needy and will break in pieces the oppressor. — Psalm 72:2-4

(10) Thus seen, the dispensation, or world to come, is to be so different from today that we could say that it will be the very opposite in almost every way. The Scriptures show why there is to be a contrast between the present and the future dispensations. It is because Jesus will be the prince or ruler of the world to come. (Isaiah 9:6) In it righteousness and truth will prosper. Satan is the prince (ruler) of the present evil world, and therefore evil prospers and the wicked flourish. Jesus stated that the prince of this world has no grip on him. (John 14:30; 2 Corinthians 12:7) Jesus further tells us that in this present evil world or epoch, whosoever will live godly suffers persecution, while the wicked flourish like a green bay tree. — 2 Timothy 3:12; Psalm 37:35.

God’s Kingdom

(11) Jesus said, “My kingdom is not part of this world (Greek, kosmos).” Here, we believe, Jesus uses the word “world” in reference, not just to the world that came after the flood, but to the “world” that God made through him. (John 1:10) “This world” is the world that is spoken of in Romans 5:19, which became corrupted through sin. As a result of sin, this world has come under an oppressive sun of vanity, a bondage of corruption, from which it cannot free itself. (Ecclesiastes 1:2,8-15; 7:13; Romans 8:20-22) Until this present this present condemned world passes away and the new era now called the “age to come” (Mark 10:30; Hebrews 6:5) has arrived, Messiah’s kingdom will not have full control of the earth. (John 18:36) And for this we are taught to hope and pray: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth.” (Matthew 6:10) Satan is the “ruler of the darkness of this world,” and therefore “darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people.” He now rules and works in the hearts of the children of disobedience. — Ephesians 2:2; 6:12.

I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. — Revelation 20:1,2

(12) There must be some very important part of the great Architect’s plan for man’s salvation that has not yet fully developed. If God’s plan had been fully developed, the new prince and the new dispensation would have been long ago introduced. But it has been postponed until an appointed time. But the time will come when the present evil empire under Satan will give way to that of the righteous rule of the Anointed One. How these things will come about will be more fully shown in later studies of this series. For now we want to say that the kingdoms of this world, now subject to Satan, are at the proper time to become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his anointed. (Revelation 11:15) The context shows that the transfer will be accomplished by a general time of trouble. (Revelation 11:18) In reference to this Jesus said: “No man can enter into a strong man’s house and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man, and then he will spoil his house.” (Mark 3:22-27) Thus we are taught that Satan must first be bound, restrained and thrown into an abyss, before Christ’s reign of righteousness and peace can be fully established. This binding of Satan is accordingly shown to be one of the first works of the new dispensation. — Revelation 20:2.

 

The Planet Earth is Not Removed

(13) It should be remembered that this planet earth is the basis of all these “worlds” and dispensations. God has promised that the planet itself will never be removed. (Psalm 104:5; 119:90) Carrying out the same pattern, Peter calls three distinct periods of time a separate ‘heavens and earth.’ He uses the word heavens to signify the higher or spiritual controlling powers, and earth signifies human government and social arrangements. Thus the first heavens and earth, or the order and arrangement of things then existing, having served their purpose, ended at the flood. The physical heavens of the stars, moon and sun did not pass away (Genesis 15:5; Psalm 8:3); the physical heavens were the birds fly did not pass away (Genesis 1:20); nor did the spiritual heavens where God’s throne is pass away. (Isaiah 61:1) Likewise, the physical earth which was flooded did not pass away. They all remained. So likewise the present world (heaven and earth) will pass away with a great noise, fire and melting — confusion, trouble and dissolution. The strong man (Satan), will struggle to retain his power. The present order or arrangement of government and society, not that of the physical sky and earth, will pass away. The present order or arrangement of government will pass away. The present heavens (powers of spiritual control) must give place to the “new heavens” — Christ’s spiritual control. The present earth (human society as now organized under Satan’s control) must (symbolically) melt and be dissolved, during the “Day of Jehovah,” which “will burn as an oven.” (Malachi 4:1) It will be succeeded by a “new earth,” that is, society organized in harmony with earth’s new Prince — the Messiah. Righteousness, peace, and love will rule among men when present arrangements have given place to the new and better kingdom, the basis of which will be the strictest justice. Truly, isn’t this what all honest-hearted people want?

The Age to Come

(14) Paul was given a glimpse of the next dispensation, or, as he calls it: “the age to come.” (Hebrews 6:5) He says he was “caught away” (physically or mentally, or both, he could not tell, things were so real to his view) down the stream of time to the new condition of things, the “new heaven.” Hence, he saw the spiritual control of Christ — things that he was not permitted to disclose. He also saw the “new earth” — paradise. (2 Corinthians 12:2-4) John was probably allowed to see some of these same things later as he received visions of the future in symbols, which may only be understood as they become due. John, in the revelation given to him by our Lord on the Isle of Patmos, was in vision carried down through this present age and its changing scenes of church and state to the end of the present evil age, or epoch. There, in prophetic vision, he saw Satan bound, Christ reigning, and the new heaven and the new earth (paradise) established. The former heaven and earth passed away. — Revelation 21:1.

Smaller Ages and Dispensations

(15) We now give our attention to some of the smaller ages or sub-ages into which the three great epochs are subdivided. It is possible to subdivide the first of these great epochs into at least two smaller ages. The second great epoch, or “world that now is,” includes three smaller ages, each a step in the plan of God for the overthrow of evil. Each step is higher than the one preceding it, and carries the plan forward and nearer completion. (Of course, each of the great epochs could possibly contain even more smaller ages or ages within ages that we do not deal with here.) The third great epoch — “the world to come” — future from the final return of Christ, comprises the Millennial Age, or “the times of restoration.” After the Millennial Age, there is a short period of time that Satan is again let loose. At the end of the this short age, Satan and all his followers are destroyed and mankind enters into the endless “ages to come,” the details of which are not revealed. (Ephesians 2:7) Present revelations treat of man’s recovery from sin and the final test of individual fitness for life, and not of the eternity of glory to follow.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living things that moves upon the earth.” — Genesis 1:28,29

 

Smaller Ages of the World That Was

(16) The first smaller age (pertaining to man) of the first great epoch begins with the creation of Adam and ends when he is thrown out of the Garden of Eden. During this time man enjoyed a special relationship with God. (Genesis 1:28,29; 3:22-24) God had given man his law, written in his very nature. But after Adam sinned God changed his method of dealing with man, causing a second smaller age to begin. From then on God left man measurably to his own course which was downward, for “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) During this time many of the angels misused the powers God gave them to materialize. Consequently they made themselves human-like bodies and married the daughters of men, in disobedience to Jehovah. (Genesis 6:1-2; 2 Peter 2:4,5; Jude 6) We find that this second smaller age ended at the flood of Noah’s day. Evidently 120 years earlier, when God called Noah, ‘Jehovah changed his course toward man whom he made on the earth, and he was grieved at heart.’ At this point the second smaller age (or “world”), was on notice that its days were limited (120 years). (Genesis 6:3) During the “last days” of this smaller age the command was given to Noah to build an ark to safely carry him and his family through the end of that world. That age ended with a flood, which took away all but faithful Noah and his family. Thus the second smaller age of Peter’s “world that was” not only manifested the disastrous effects of sin, but showed the tendency of sin downward to greater degradation and misery, and proves the necessity of Jehovah’s interposition, if the recovery of “that which was lost” — man’s first estate — is ever to be accomplished. — Luke 19:10.

 

Smaller Ages of This Present Evil World

(17) The first smaller age in Peter’s “world that now is” we call the PATRIARCHAL AGE, or dispensation. During that period God’s dealings and favors were with a few individuals only, the remainder of mankind being almost ignored. Such favored ones were the patriarchs Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Each of these in turn were chosen by God to receive special favor. — Acts 7:1-15.

(18) At the death of Jacob that smaller age or order ended. After Jacob’s death, his descendants were recognized by God as his “peculiar people.” Through typical sacrifices they were typically “a holy nation,” separated from other nations for a particular purpose, and therefore to enjoy certain special favors. The time allotted to this feature of the divine plan, beginning with the death of Jacob and ending at the death of Christ, we designate the JEWISH AGE, or the Law dispensation. During that smaller age God specially blessed that nation. He gave them his law. He made a special covenant with them. He gave them the tabernacle, whose shekinah glory in the Most Holy represented Jehovah’s presence with them as their Leader and King. To them he sent the prophets, and finally his son. — Acts 7:34,38,44; Luke 16:16; Acts 3:25,26.

(19) Jesus performed many miracles and taught in the midst of the people of Israel. He did not go to any but the nation of Israel. Nor did he permit his disciples to go to the surrounding nations. He sent them out, saying: “Do not go into the way of the nations, and do not enter into any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5,6) And again he said: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24) Thus, for a while, only the nation of Israel was favored with the message of about the Messiah.

(20) This national favor ended when they showed their national rejection of him by having him executed as a criminal by the Roman authorities. Jesus showed this when, five days before his impalement, he declared to Jerusalem: “Your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matthew 23:38) There, at Jesus’ death, we can identity a new smaller age that began, which many often refer to as the Gospel (Good News) age. During this period good tidings of justification, not to the Jew only, but to all nations was heralded. Jesus the Messiah, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man. The Good News Age lasts until the full establishment of Christ’s Kingdom over all the earth. During this Age a special class is called. This is a class of individuals who by faith accept Jesus as their Redeemer and Master, and follow in his footsteps. They receive a particular favor. To them special promises are made. The Good News proclamation has gone forth hither and thither through the earth since Jesus’ death, though often polluted with man’s traditions. It has not converted nations — it is not designed to do so in this age. But it has been selecting here and there some, a little flock, as Jesus had foretold (Luke 12:32), to whom it is the Father’s good pleasure to give the Kingdom.

The Time of Trouble

(21) The last part of the Gospel Age the Bible describes as a “time of trouble” (Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21) Like the ending period of the first great age, we believe this intervening period could also 120 years long. Jesus called the final stages of the age as a period of “great tribulation.” It is during this great tribulation that a final “kingdom” group would be called: “the great multitude” who come out of the “great tribulation.” (Revelation 7:9-17) The “great multitude” who pass through the “great tribulation” provide the link between this “present evil world” and “the world to come” just as Noah and his family were a link through the end of the world at that time. — Matthew 24:37-41.

Restoration For All Mankind

(22) As a result of the “great tribulation” the “present evil age” fully ends. God has been thus permitting the predominance and reign of wickedness, to the seeming detriment of his cause. Nevertheless his deep designs have been steadily progressing according to a fixed and definite plan, and in the exact order of the seasons which he has appointed. In the end of this age, and the dawn of its successor, the Millennial Age, Satan is to be thrown into an abyss and his power overthrown. (Revelation 20:2-3) This prepares the way for the establishment of Christ’s kingdom (Revelation 20:4) and the beginning of ‘the world to come, wherein dwells righteousness.’

(23) “Millennium,” signifying a thousand years, is by common consent used as the name for the period mentioned in Revelation 20:4 — the thousand years of Christ’s reign, the first smaller age in the “world to come.” During the Millennial Age, there will be a restoration of all things lost by the fall of Adam (Acts 3:19-21), and before its close all tears will have been wiped away. After the Millennial Age, another short age, the Little Season, is mentioned in the Bible. This smaller age, the length of which is not readily disclosed, will be the final testing of each individual’s fitness for life. Beyond its boundary, in the ages of blessedness to follow, there will be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying; neither will there be any more pain. The former things will have passed away. (Revelation 21:4) God’s revelations particularize no further, and there we stop.

 

God’s Progressive Plan

(24) We have here only glanced at the mere outline of this plan of the ages. The more we examine it, the more we will find in it perfect harmony, beauty, and order. Each age has its part to accomplish, necessary to the complete development of God’s plan as a whole. The plan is a progressive one, gradually unfolding from age to age, upward and onward to the grand consummation of the original design of the Divine Architect, “who works all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Ephesians 1:11) Not one of these great periods is an hour too long or too short for the accomplishment of its object. God is a wise economist of both time and means, though his resources are infinite; and no power, however malicious, for a moment retards or thwarts his purposes. All things, evil as well as good, under divine supervision and overruling, are working together for the accomplishment of his will.

(25) To the the material-minded, those who can see only a little of the intricate machinery of God’s plan, it appears like anarchy, confusion, and failure, just as the whole, or even a part, of an intricate machine would appear to a child. (1 Corinthians 2:6-3) To their immature and untutored minds it is incomprehensible, and the opposite motions of its wheels and belts are but confusion. But maturity and investigation will show that the seeming confusion is beautiful harmony, working good results. The machine, however, was as truly a success before the child understood its operation as after. So, while God’s plan is, and has been for ages, in successful operation, man has been receiving the necessary discipline, not only to enable him to understand its intricate workings, but also to experience its blessed results.

Application of the Ages to Further Study

(26) As we pursue our study of the Bible and the plan it presents, it is essential that we keep in memory these ages and their respective peculiarities and objects; for in no one of them can the plan be seen, but in all of them, even as a link is not a chain, but several links united form a chain. We obtain correct ideas of the whole plan by noting the distinctive features of each part, and thus we are enabled to rightly divide the word of truth. — 2 Timothy 2:15.

(27) A statement of the Word which belongs solely to one epoch, or dispensation, cannot always be applied to another, as things stated in one age are not always true of another. For instance, it would be an untruth to say of the present time that the knowledge of Jehovah fills the whole earth, or that there is no need to say to your neighbor: “Know Jehovah!” (Isaiah 11:9; Jeremiah 31:34) This is not true in this age, and it cannot be true until the Lord Jesus, having come again, has established his kingdom; for throughout this age there have been seducing deceptions, and we are told that even in the very end of the age — in the last day … evil men and seducers will become worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:1,13) It will be as the result of Christ’s reign during the Millennial Age that knowledge and righteousness will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

 

The Kingdoms of This World

(28) A similar mistake, and a very common one, is to suppose that God’s kingdom is now established and ruling over the earth, and that his will is now done among the nations. This is manifestly far from the truth, for the kingdoms of this world are supported and enriched through oppression, injustice, and deceit, to as great an extent as the increasing intelligence of the people will permit. Satan, the present “prince of this world,” must yet be displaced, and these kingdoms, now under his control, must become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Anointed, when he will take unto himself his great power, and reign. By seeking and searching the scriptures, we discern that system and order which mark the stately steppings of our God through the ages past and into the future.

(29) By the light now due to the household of faith, we discern that system and order which mark the stately steppings of our God through the ages past, and we are forcibly reminded of the beautiful lines of Cowper, inspired by a living faith, which trusted where it could not trace the Almighty Jehovah:

 

He Will Make It Plain

(Adapted)Yah moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform:
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sovereign will.

You fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not Jehovah by frail sense,
But trust him for his grace.
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour.
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain.
Yah is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.

 

Addendum: The Resurrection and Judgment in the Last Day as Related to the “Ages”

There have been some questions that have arisen concerning the “last day” and the ages as spoken of in the study above. We will try to address most of these questions in this Addendum.

There are basically two different Greek words used in the New Testament related to the ages. One is “Aion” (Strong’s #165) corresponding in many cases to the Hebrew ‘owlam (Strong’s Hebrew #5769), and the other Greek word is “kosmos” (Strong’s #2889). “Aion” refers to a period of time, which can be definite or indefinite, depending on the context; “Kosmos” refers more to the arrangement of things (government, society, etc.) that can be — but not necessarily — associated with a period of time.

We will first focus on scriptures that use the words “aion” and “owlam” as related to specific periods of time. The “age [Greek, aion, Strong’s #165] to come” is spoken of in Matthew 12:32; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; 20:35; Ephesians 1:21; Hebrews 2:5; 6:5. Ephesians 2:7 refers to “ages to come.” — Ephesians 2:7. Usually, “age to come” appears to be referring to the first of the “ages to come,” that is, the 1,000 years of Christ’s reign, the day of judgment. After the first “age to come” is over, there will be at least one more age which leads into eternity. Whether there will be more than one age “after” the 1,000 years is not stated, although the account in Revelation 20 could be viewed as at least two ages, the “little season” in which Satan is loosed, and age after Satan and that wicked are destroyed.

Ephesians 3:21 and Isaiah 45:17 refer to an “age without end.” This would encompass all “ages” to come as one “age” made up of sub-ages.

Hebrews 1:2 speaks of “ages” [plural] as being made by means of Jesus. In context, this seems to be referring to the two great general ages, the one which became corrupted due to Adam’s sin, and the second that is to have no end.

Hebrews 11:3 speaks of ages as having been framed by means of the Logos of God. It is possible that “Logos of God” is being used as a title for Jesus, as shown in Revelation 19:13. Nevertheless, this scripture is again probably speaking of the two great ages, the first of which became corrupted through sin, and the second which is to consist of all ages to come.

The present evil age is spoken of in Galatians 1:4: “who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” (World English version) While this scripture is often used to refer to the age from the time of flood of Noah’s day, more than likely Paul was actually referring to the age that began with Adam’s sin, since that is what the believer is reckoned as being delivered from.

Some other scriptures that refer to this present evil age. – Matthew 12:32; 13:22; Mark 4:19; Luke 16:8; 20:34; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 1:20; 2:6,8; 3:18; 8:13; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 1:21; 2:2; 6:12; 1 Timothy 6:17; 4:10; Titus 2:12.

Colossians 1:26 refers to “ages’ (plural), during which the mystery about Christ had been hidden, thus indicating more than one “age” as having past since Adam sinned. These “ages” would therefore be sub-ages of the greater overall “age.”

This present age is spoken of as having a beginning. Although its beginning was not of evil, it became corrupted due to sin. — Luke 1:70; John 9:32; Acts 3:21; 15:18; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Hebrews 9:26. The end of this present evil age, that was begun with disobedience of Adam, is spoken of in Matthew 13:39,40,49; 24:3; 28:20; 1 John 2:17.

Hebrews 9:26 also refers to the end of the present evil age, including all of its “ages”: “now once at the end of the ages, he has been revealed to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. ” (World English) The “ages” here are plural in the Greek, referring to the end of more than one age, evidently referring to time period from his first appearance to his second appearance (Hebrews 9:28); this entire period is being referred to as “the end of the ages”. We conclude, then, that this refers, to entire period from the ending of the Law and the Prophets with John the Baptist, to the ending of the Sacrifces under the Law, and also to the ending of the Gospel Age.

One scripture (1 Corinthians 10:11) speaks of the “ends” (plural) of the ages, evidently referring to time of John the Baptist to the time when all ages pertaining to the reign of Adamic death have come ended. (Romans 5:12-19)

Although “age” is not mentioned in Luke 16:16, it is suggested in that the “law and the prophets” were until John the Baptist, indicating John the Baptist to be the last prophet that belonged to that “age.” When Jesus began preaching, the new age pertaining the preaching of the kingdom was beginning, and the old age was ending, creating an overlapse of the ages. Later the sacrifices under the Law came to end (AD 70), but the Law itself is still active upon those who were born under the Law. The Law itself will not have vanished until all who are under that Law have either died naturally, or else have become dead to the Law through faith in Jesus.

The Day of Judgment and the “Age to Come”

How is the “day of judgment” related to the “age to come”? The world’s judgment day is spoken of as taking place in what Jesus called the “the last day.”

“He who rejects me, and doesn’t receive my sayings, has one who judges him. The word that I spoke, the same will judge him in the last day.” — John 12:48, World English version.

Thus, we can conclude that those who reject Jesus in this present evil age are to be judged in what Jesus calls the “last day.” This is the coming judgment of world, when Jehovah comes to judge the earth — the world — by means of the one whom he ordained.

Psalm 96:10 Say among the nations, “Jehovah reigns.” The world is also established. It can’t be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.

Psalm 96:11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice. Let the sea roar, and the fullness of it!

Psalm 96:12 Let the field exult, and all that is therein. Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy

Psalm 96:13 Before Jehovah; for he comes, For he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, The peoples with his truth.

[Jehovah] has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead. — Acts 17:31.

Jesus also spoke of that judgment day when he spoke of the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:29) Revelation speaks of the unbelieving world being released from death (the death in Adam) and hades (the condition resulting from the condemnation of death in Adam) so that they can be judged, not according to Adam’s sin, but according to their own works. — Revelation 20:12,13.

This resurrection of judgment and unbelieving world’s “day of judgment” takes place sometime during the “last day” that Jesus spoke of. It is in this same day, however, that the believers are also raised.

John 5:28 Don’t marvel at this, for the hour comes, in which all that are in the tombs will hear his voice,

John 5:29 and will come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.

Here Jesus speaks of both resurrections, that of the believer, and also that of the unbeliever, as happening in one “hour.” The word “hour”, however, like the word “day” does not necessarily refer to any set period of time. A day can be six days, a day can be 40 years, or a day can be 1,000 years, etc. Likewise, the word “hour” can be used in the same manner. In John 5:28, the word “hour” is being used as a synonym of the “last day.” We know this, because Jesus goes on to explain:

John 6:39Â This is the will of my Father who sent me, that of all he has given to me I should lose nothing, but should raise them up at the last day.

John 6:40 This is the will of the one who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes in him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day.

John 6:54 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

This is the same “last day” in which the unbelievers are to be judged. (John 12:47,48) Thus, both the believers and the unbelievers are raised in the same “last day” or “hour”. Consequently, when the heathen are gathered before Jesus for judgment as individuals, as spoken of in Matthew 25:32, it is during that last day. However, the just and the unjust are not raised at the same time during that “last day.” The saints will also have the privilege of participating in judging the world with Jesus, thus they have to be all raised “before” the judgment of the world begins, hence, the “first resurrection”.

Speaking prophetically, Daniel says:

“Judgment was given to the saints of the Most High, and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” — Daniel 7:22.

This is basically the same language that is used of Jesus in John 5:22:

For neither does the Father judge any man, but he has given all judgment to the Son. — World English.

In harmony with Daniel 7:22, Paul states:

Don’t you know that the saints will judge the world? — 1 Corinthians 6:2.

He states that as a future event. That time is to be when the world is regenerated, since we read:

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly I tell you, that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. — Matthew 19:28.

Remember that it was only to Israel that Jesus came, and thus, in those who rejected Jesus, those of whom Jesus spoke in John 12:47,48, were directly of the twelve tribes of Israel. These twelve tribes, who did not accept Jesus, are included in the “world” that is spoken of in John 12:47, when Jesus said he came to “save the world” that they might be judged in the “last day.” (John 12:48) It was mainly the children of Israel that spoken of in John 1:10,11 as the world that did not recognize him, thus Israel is included as part of this “world”:

John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

This further indicates that this judging of those of Israel who rejected Jesus takes place at a future date, in the regeneration, when they are brought back to life for judgment, as spoken of in John 5:29.

In harmony with Daniel and Paul, John wrote prophetically of those who participate in the first resurrection:

I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. — Revelation 20:4.

While the saints are counted, reckoned, imputed, as having eternal life in this age (John 3:36; 1 John 5:13; see also: Romans 3:28; 4:5,24; 6:11), they receive their regeneration in this age (Titus 3:5) as a seed, a grain (1 Corinthians 15:38,39), as a token, an earnest, or down payment (Strong’s #728 — 2 Corinthians 1:21,22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:12-14), of that which is to come, but the saints do not actually receive eternal life until the “age to come.” (Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; see also Romans 2:7; 8:24; 1 Timothy 6:12,19; Titus 1:2; 3:7) The saints are raised in the same “last day” during which the world is to be judged. (John 5:28,29; 6:39,40,44,54; 11:24) Thus, the “last day” is in the “age to come” that Jesus spoke of. However, they have to be raised before the unbelieving world if they are to participate in the judging of the unbelieving world, so their resurrection is termed “the first resurrection.” (Revelation 20:5,6) The saints are raised in the first part of “last day,” at which time they receive authority to judge the world, and the unbelieving world is raised for individual judgment later in that same “last day.”

Many are thrown off by the addition of some words that appear in Revelation 20:5: “The rest of the dead didn’t live until the thousand years were finished.” Thus there are many who teach that the world’s day of judgment takes place after the 1,000 years, and not during the 1,000 years. Some good evidence suggests that these words of Revelation 20:5 are spurious. The flow of language used also suggests that they are spurious. However, assuming that they are genuine, it would have to be understood as relating to their final coming to life, their receiving eternal life after of the 1,000 years (Matthew 25:46), and not to their being raised from hades. The unbelieving world returns in the age to come for their individual judgment during the 1,000 years, in the same “last day” that the saints are raised, and while Satan is abyssed, not after.

Revelation (Links Regarding)

Articles and Comments Regarding the Book of Revelation

Revelation Chapter One

Revelation 1:1 – Revelation of Jesus Christ
Revelation 1:4 – Who Is, Was and Is To Come – Jesus?
Revelation 1:8 – Is Jesus or God Being Quoted?
Revelation 1:8 – The God of Jesus Speaks
Revelation 1:17; 2:8 – The First and the Last
Revelation 01:18 – The Keys of Death and Hades

Revelation Chapter Two

Revelation 2:6,15 – The Teaching of the Nicolaitans
Revelation 2:8; 1:17 – The First and the Last

Revelation Chapter Three

Revelation Chapter Four

Revelation Chapter Five

Revelation Chapter Six

Revelation Chapter Seven

Revelation Chapter Eight

Revelation Chapter Nine

Revelation Chapter Ten

Revelation Chapter Eleven

Revelation Chapter Twelve

Revelation Chapter Thirteen

Revelation Chapter Fourteen

Revelation Chapter Fifteen

Revelation Chapter Sixteen

Revelation Chapter Seventeen

Revelation 17:4 – Lord of Lords and King of Kings

Revelation Chapter Eighteen

Revelation Chapter Nineteen

Revelation 19:20-21 – Armageddon, the Second Death and Judgments

Revelation Chapter Twenty

Revelation 20:4-15 – Judgment and Lake of Fire

Revelation Chapter Twenty-One

Revelation 21:7 – Heaven?

Revelation Chapter Twenty-Two

This page is not yet completed; God willing, we will be adding more to this as we are able.