The World Will See Me No More — John 14:19

John 14:19 Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but you will see me. Because I live [referring to his resurrection], you will live also [reckonedly regenerated in this age, and actually in the resurrection].

In John 14:19, although Jesus’ words are directly to Philip, Jesus is evidently speaking to his apostles in general, when he said: “you [plural] will behold me.” When Jesus said “you”, the pronoun in the Greek is plural, signifying that he was not simply addressing Philip (John 14:9), but all of the eleven apostles. All of the eleven apostles will be members of the joint-heirs with Christ, receiving spiritual bodies in the resurrection as Jesus now has, and thus will be able to see, or behold, Jesus’ own glorious spiritual body. The world will never have that ability.

Nevertheless,  Jesus made many appearances to his 11 faithful apostles (as well as to other disciples) before his ascension (Acts 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:4-8), but the world never saw him again after his death and burial, and will never physically see him again.

Additionally, the remaining 11 apostles will live again in the last day (John 6:39,40,44,54), and will further see Jesus then, not as a human being, but in his exalted glory of a heavenly, spirit being, the glory of a celestial (heavenly), spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:40,45), and this is what we believe that Jesus is specifically referencing. The world, being raised to life on the earthly, physical plane, will never ever physically see or behold Jesus’ magnificent glory, although they will see his glory in its kingdom physical manifestations all over the earth.

Also, the believers in this age are allowed to spiritually “see” Jesus with varying degrees of understanding, while the present evil world (Galatians 1:4) cannot appreciably see Jesus at all due to the blinding influence of Satan. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9) In the age to come, however, the blinding influence and the covering vail of darkness will have been removed when the mountain of God’s kingdom fills the earth (Isaiah 2:2-4; 25:7; 29:18; Revelation 20:1-3), so that those who in this age do not believe will, in that last day of judgment be able “see” Jesus, not literally, but with the symbolic “eyes” of understanding that will no longer be symbolically blinded. — Isaiah 2:2-4; 26:9; John 12:47,48.

Now, however, neither the world nor the church will ever again see Jesus in the flesh. Why not? Because he sacrificed his flesh once for all time. He never takes it back, nor does he have any reason to take it back. If he should take that flesh back, then the sacrifice would become void, for in order to completely fulfill the condemnation upon Adam, Jesus’ humanity has to be dead forever. The very purpose of Jesus’ becoming flesh was to sacrifice that flesh for the sin of the world. Having presented that flesh, his body, in sacrifice after his ascension, he has no need to ever again become flesh.

The apostle Paul calls attention to the difference between heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, and declares that they have different glories. (1 Corinthians 15:40) He tells us that the first Adam was made a living soul, a human being, but that our redeemer, he who came from heaven, who humbled himself, and took the earthly nature — “for the suffering of death” (Hebrews 2:9) — being foreshadowed by sinless Adam (Romans 5:14), and being crowned with the earthly glory as was sinless Adam (Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 2:9). Jesus’ body of was prepared by his God, without the taint of sin or condemnation in Adam. (Hebrews 10:5) But Jesus did not remain flesh, for he offered his earthly glory, his flesh, his body, in sacrifice for the church and the world. (John 6:51; Hebrews 10:10; 1 John 2:2) What we need to remember is what Jesus sacrificed, what he offered to his God, was human life and all that pertains to it. Jesus did not die for spirit beings; he died for human beings, the “all” that are dying in Adam. — 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; Romans 5:12- 19.

John tells us of Jesus that “in him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4) What does this mean, that in Jesus, as a human “was life”? John 9:5 and 2 Timothy 1:10 give us a clue. Since Jesus, unlike Adam, was totally obedient, his sinless human life offered light to the dying race of mankind. Thus Jesus said: “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5, New King James version) The good news is that Jesus came with a sinless human life that he could offer in sacrifice to his God on man’s behalf in order to atone for the sin of the world. Thus Jesus, while a man, possessed life, and by his continued obedience brought life and incorruption to light. (2 Timothy 1:10) Jesus condemned sin in the flesh by showing that a sinless, incorrupt human can obey God’s laws. — Romans 8:3; 2 Timothy 1:10.
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See: How God’s Son Condemned Sin the Flesh

Jesus, as a human, as most know the scriptures say, was without sin. (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peterr 2:22-24; 1 John 3:5) Unlike dying mankind, while Jesus was in the days of his flesh (Hebrews 5:7), Jesus had life, thus in him was life! (John 1:4) How thankful we can be that the great Logos, the Word of God, the only direct living creation of God, the one through whom all life was made, when the offer was made, and the “joy set before him,” said to his God, “Lo I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, 0 God.” (John 1:1-3, Diaglott Literal; Hebrews 10:7; 12:2; Revelation 3:14). The life and personality of the Logos was then transferred and he became the babe of Bethlehem. “He was made flesh and being found in fashion [likeness] as a man [sinful flesh –Romans 8:3] he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross [stauros].” – John 1:14; Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 2:14.

Jesus’ human body was not prepared from sinful human stock, but Jesus says of his God: “But a body did you prepare for me.” (Hebrews 10:5) It is thus this sinless human body, having sinless life, that Jesus willingly offered in sacrifice. (Hebrews 10:10) Yes, in Jesus was life — human life, crowned with the glory of a sinless man, who by remaining obedient to his God (Philippians 2:8) never fell short of the glory of God. — Romans 3:23; Hebrews 2:9.

Thus seen, what did Jesus sacrifice?

He gave his humanity — including his body of flesh — as an offsetting price, which sacrifice he formally presented to his God as priest after his ascension. – – Hebrews 8:4; 9:24-26; 10:10.

1) Jesus gave his blood in sacrifice.

Matthew 26:28 – for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the remission of sins.

Mark 14:24 – He said to them, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many.

Luke 22:20 – He took the cup in like manner after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, that which is poured out for you.

Acts 20:28 – Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. – Revised Standard Version.

Romans 5:9 – Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we will be saved from God’s wrath through him.

Ephesians 1:7 – in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.

However, what does blood represent? Jesus’ human soul, which he also gave in sacrifice.

Leviticus 17:11 – For the life [Hebrew, nephesh – soul] of the flesh is in the blood.

Deuteronomy 12:23 – The blood is the life [Hebrew, nephesh – soul].

The human soul consists of the body made from the dust of the ground and the neshamah, representing the activation of the body by spirit of life as received from God. — Genesis 2:7.

2) Yes, Jesus did sacrifice his human body: He thus was not raised as a human, but as a spirit being, with a spiritual body.

Hebrews 10:10 by which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Hebrews 10:11 Every priest indeed stands day by day ministering and often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins,
Hebrews 10:12 but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
Hebrews 10:13 henceforth expecting until his enemies to be made the footstool of his feet.
Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are sanctified.

Luke 22:19 He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave to them, saying, “This is *my body which is given [as an offering in sacrifice to God – Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 9:14] for you*. Do this in memory of me.”

3) Jesus sacrificed his flesh:

John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down out of heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. Yes, the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.

4) Jesus sacrificed his human soul:

Matthew 20:28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life [soul] as a ransom [price to offset] for many.

Isaiah 53:12 He *poured out his soul* to death, and was numbered with the transgressors: yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

He died; he was totally dead, ceased to be sentient, else there has been no ransom. His body was given in sacrifice. (Hebrews 10:10; Luke 22:19) Jesus’ soul — his human sentiency — was given in sacrifice (Ecclesiastes 9:5) and went into sheol, where there is no work, device, knowledge or wisdom, and wherein one cannot give thanks to, or praise to, Yahweh. (Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Psalm 6:5; Isaiah 38:18) Jesus’ human blood — which represents his human soul/being (Leviticus 17:11; Deuteronomy 12:23) — was given in sacrifice. (Mark 14:24; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 9:14) Thus his soul — his being — as raised, made alive, from the oblivious condition of sheol was no longer human, but spirit, with a spiritual, not a physical, body.

Once we realize that the human soul consists of the body of flesh activated by the neshamah, or spirit of life from God (Genesis 2:7), we can see how Jesus gave his entire humanity in sacrifice; he is no longer in the days of his flesh, and the world will never again literally see Jesus, either in the flesh, or in his heavenly glory. — Hebrews 5:7.

What, then, about Revelation 1:7?

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, including those who pierced him. All the tribes of the earth will mourn over him. Even so, Amen.

“Every eye shall see him” (Revelation 1:7) is widely accepted as proof that Christ will return visibly. The book of Revelation however, is full of symbology, and we believe that “eye” and “see” here is speaking symbolically. We know Jesus said , “The world seeth me NO MORE” (John 14:19). The Bible does not contradict itself! Any reasoning student of the Bible will admit that the book of Revelation is a book of symbols. It cannot be literally interpreted. Why should a person then insist that this one verse must be?

The “eye” in Revelation 1:7 is symbolical and refers to mental perception or the “eye” of understanding (Job 42:5). At first Christ appears only as clouds of darkness, trouble, suffering, tribulation, as a roaring of the sea. (Isaiah 5:30; Zephaniah 1:15; Luke 21:25) The world symbolically sees the clouds of darkness, but the people in general do not understand the import behind the clouds until the clouds are removed, and God through Christ says, Peace! Be Still! — Psalm 107:29; Mark 4:39.

While it could be the clouds of darkness that produce a mournful feeling in men, many scriptures indicate that when all flesh sees the glory of Yahweh (Isaiah 40:5) as being revealed through Jesus and the saints, the world will be mournful. (Isaiah 35:5-10) The judgments of that day will prove to be more tolerable for some than for others. — Matthew 10:15; 11:22,24; Mark 6:11; Luke 10:12,14.

The verse tells us that those that pierced Jesus will be there, which provides further indication that this has its full fulfillment in the resurrection day, the “last day” when the unbelieving world is to blessed with another day of judgment. — John 12:47,48.

Repentance is also associated with mournfulness (Joel 2:12), so the mournfulness being spoken of in Revelation 1:7 could be regarding repentance upon realization of the truths being revealed at that time. The next age will then be in full operation, the great deceiver abyssed, and mankind will then be enabled to understand. — Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14; Joel 2:2; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Isaiah 25:7; 29:24; Revelation 12:9; 20:1-4.

Related RL Studies

1 Peter 3:18 – Jesus Died a Human Being – Raised a Spirit Being

Romans 8:3 – How God’s Son Condemned Sin in the Flesh

End of the World in 1914?

Light, Darkness and the Logos

Astrape in Luke 17:22; Matthew 24:27

Jesus Has Come in the Flesh

Originally published on September 9, 2009; updated and republished on April 22, 2014.

Astrape in Luke 17:24; Matthew 24:27 -r

Please note that in this study, the scriptural references to “the Son of Man” should actually read, “Son of the Man.” In Greek, the indefinite “son of man” does not mean the same thing as the definite “Son of the Man”. See our study: “Son of Man and Son of God

While we are not with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, one of the books many cite related to our Biblical studies is Jehovah of the Watchtower“, by Walter Martin and Norman Klann. Our references to this work are to the Ninth Printing, dated 1981 (Copyright 1953, 1974). On page 88 of that book, we read: “In Luke 17:20-21, the Lord reveals the kingdom of heaven as within the believer in one aspect but clearly states that the heavenly aspect will be visible and observable at His return (vv. 23-26).” Actually, we find nothing in Luke 17:20-21 that says that kingdom of heaven is “within the believer”. Jesus was not speaking to believers, but unbelievers, the Pharisees. Was Jesus saying that the kingdom of heaven is “within” the Pharisees? Was Jesus’ illustration as presented in Luke 17:23-26 meant to say that the kingdom “will be visible and observable at His return”?

Before answering those questions, we first want to note what Martin and Klann next stated: “In Matthew 13, the Lord Jesus portrays the kingdom of heaven symbolically in parables, yet it is always pictured as a reality, not invisible phantom government.” We agree that the parables present the kingdom of heaven symbolically, and that it is always pictured as a reality. Martin and Klann seem to be under the false assumption, however, that an invisible presence means that it is not a real presence. This kind of reasoning, if applied to some scriptures, would mean that God is not real, since he is the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 6:15) God is a reality, however, even though we cannot physically see Him. Likewise, initially, when Jesus returns in his parousia, we believe that his parousia is unnoticed by the world, as we will show from the scriptures.

In the context, Jesus had stated:

Matthew 24:23 Then if any man will tell you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or, ‘There,’ don’t believe it.
Matthew 24:24 For there will arise false Christs, and false prophets, and they will show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
Matthew 24:25 Behold, I have told you beforehand.
Matthew 24:26 If therefore they tell you, ‘Behold, he is in the wilderness!’ don’t go out; ‘Behold, he is in the inner chambers,’ don’t believe it.

Jesus here warns against expecting to see him return in the flesh. As he stated elsewhere, however, “the world will see me no more.” (John 14:19) Jesus knew that the world would not see him when he returned because he knew that he was to sacrifice that flesh for all time. (Luke 22:19; John 6:51; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; Hebrews 10:10) He knew that he would not return in the flesh, and yet he also knew that many would be claiming that he had returned in the flesh, and, in effect saying, “Here he is,” and “there he is.” And there have been many false prophets claiming such. Additionally, there have been many false prophets claiming that they have the authority of the Kingdom, and thus the sole right to speak for Jesus, such as the claims for the Papacy and that of the leadership of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many other religious sects and leaderships.

See our related studies:
The World Will See Me Know More
Jesus Died a Human Being – Raised a Spirit Being

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God doesn’t come with observation.” (Luke 17:20, World English Bible translation) “nor will they say, `Look, here it is!’ or, `There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” And He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, `Look there! Look here!’ Do not go away, and do not run after them.” — Luke 17:21-23 NASB translation.

And there have been many, from the first century to this very day, who have proclaimed this or that outward organization to be God’s Kingdom on earth; likewise, there have been many who have claimed to be Jesus, or in some way to exclusively represent Jesus. Nevertheless, because Jesus has sacrificed his flesh for sin (Luke 22:19; John 6:51; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; Hebrews 10:10), one cannot point to any human being and claim that this or that human being is Jesus, as many have done are are still doing; when Jesus comes in his kingdom, one will not “see” Jesus’ body of flesh, since Jesus is no longer flesh, and since there is to be no more sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:26), he has no reason to come back in a body of flesh.
See our study: “Jesus Died a Human Being – Raised a Spirit Being

Then Jesus states, as rendered by the New American Standard version of the Bible in Matthew 24:27:

“For just as the lightning (Greek, astrape: light, bright shining) comes from the east and flashes [Greek, phaino: shines] even to the west, so will the coming [Greek, Parousia: presence] of the Son of Man be. (NAS)

Westcott & Hort Interlinear
hwsper gar hee astrapee exerchetai apo
AS EVEN FOR THE LIGHTNING IS COMING OUT FROM
5618 1063 3588 0796 1831 0575
anatolwn kai phainetai hews dusmwn houtws
EASTERN [PARTS] AND IS SHINING UNTIL WESTERN [PARTS], THUS
0395 2532 5316 2193_5 1424 3779
estai hee parousia tou huiou tou anthrwpou
WILL BE THE PRESENCE OF THE SON OF THE MAN;
1511_4 3588 3952 3588 5207 3588 0444

Astrape means:

lightning; light, ray of light

http://biblestudydata.com/moodle/mod/data/view.php?d=2&rid=845

The old English word “lightning” is a variant of “lightening”:
lightning. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/lightning.

This word does not necessarily mean lightning in the sky as is often associated with thunderstorms.

Jesus’ words in Luke 17:24 read as:

“For just like the lightning, when it flashes [shines] out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day.”

Jesus, in answering the Pharisees, first lets them know that when the kingdom comes it will not be with observation, something that will be observed as such. No one will be able to legitimately say that the kingdom is ruling here, or it is ruling there, as though it will be actually seen, but that it is to be in their midst. He then explains to his disciples — not the Pharisees — that there will be those however, that will claim that God’s kingdom is ruling and can be seen, and warns not to follow these. Such claims have been made by Rome and many other church-state systems, including, I believe, the JW leadership. These proclamations of God’s kingdom, being seen amongst men, Jesus said, are not the real kingdom, and he tells his followers not to recognize them as such.

Then Jesus tells how God’s kingdom will come upon the world, by describing the light, that progresses from east to west in the sky. Many translations present this light as lightning and use the word “flash” rather than simply shines, but we believe that this leaves one with the wrong idea, as we will present below.

Electrical lightning associated with thunderstorms does not generally come from the east and shine even to the west, but the sun does. The word “lightning”, in the context given, is a poor choice to represent the Greek word “astrape,” which signifies “bright shining” (as given in Luke 11:36 in the KJV), or simply “the light”. The bright “light” actually being described here and applied figuratively to the parousia of the son of the man, as the context indicates, to the sunlight which shines always from the east even to the west, while on the other hand, lightning flashes in a variety of directions, wherever the electrical forces producing it may be discharged. A flash of lightning would only luminate the sky for a split second, which also is not a good illustration of Jesus’ return. When the the Greek word often transliterated as “parousia” is understood and “presence” rather simply as “coming” (in a split second?), the statement is seen to declare that the presence of Christ will be like the sunlight, gradually illuminating the world. It is not a split second of time, in which all the world sees and recognizes Jesus in the instant that he returns, as some have assumed.

Those who are awake and watching, the children of the light, are the first to discern and rejoice in His presence. The children of the night and of the darkness will awake when the Sun of Righteousness will arise in His full glory, and all the sin-sick will rejoice in the healing to be gained through the influence of His rays. Therefore, Jesus uses here the illustration of how the sun brings light as it comes up the east and goes to the west. This well depicts the sun of righteousness who arises with healing in his wings. (Malachi 4:2) The shining is not confined to any one place, but its effect is different in different places. The bright shining (verse 27) means truths and knowledge greatly increases, especially during the time that Christ is returns and is present. That this shining is visible from the east to the west, refers to the fact that our Lord’s presence reveals truth that not only is seen now, but even unto the west, the end of the Millennium, even as the sun gradually moves across the sky from east to west. (Revelation 21:23-24). When the sun first rises in the east, it is not especially bright, but the rays of light can be seen gleaming through the sky. As it continues its journey, the shining gets brighter and brighter.

The sun shine of this new day, however, is different from a normal day, for the prophecy says that the bright shining is darkened by the clouds. (Isaiah 5:30; Joel 2:2; Zephaniah 1:15) The clouds, in this instance, we understand to mean obscurity — darkness and trouble on earth. (Isaiah 8:22) It is a unique day, different from what we have known before, for we are told that at evening time, rather than darkness coming, there will be light. (Zechariah 14:7) Thus seen, we can see that this day endures on into the millennial rule, when the world will be instructed in the ways of Yahweh, and the knowledge of Yahweh will fill the earth. — Isaiah 2:2-4; 6:11.

At first, only those who are spiritually awake recognize this presence, (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6) but after Satan is abyssed, all men will become aware of his presence, including those who pierced (who have to first be raised from the dead) him. (Revelation 20:3; Isaiah 25:7; Revelation 1:7) To many of the watchers who compare spiritual revealing with spiritual revealing in order to “see” spiritually, this light is now seen in the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies, as well as a flood of knowledge that causes understanding of many spiritual truths that were hidden in the darkness of the wilderness for over a thousand years. Thus to them it has a special meaning. But to the world the light first brings a time of trouble, as never seen before in history, for poor humanity, still being out of harmony with God and truth, cannot properly control the increase of knowledge that has so gradually filled the world since 1799. (Daniel 12:1,4) Yet they are still ever learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:7) God’s kingdom is in their midst, but they do not recognize it. — Luke 17:21

Thus seen, in agreement with other scriptures, Christ’s parousia, covers a period of time, in which many things occur. Yes, Jesus does arrive at the beginning of his parousia, his presence as King, and thus remains present. His presence is not just a split second event. The Greek word parousia means more than just his arrival, but it also includes the many events prophesied concerning his coming.

W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words: Parousia, literally, a presence, para, with, and ousia, being: denotes both an arrival and a consequent presence with. Robert Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible: Parousia, a being alongside, presence.

Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary of the Greek Testament Foreword: “Parousia, as applied to the return of the Lord, is simply the anglicizing of the Greek word which literally means ‘presence.’

One way of showing that the parousia is a period of time can be seen by comparing two scritpures:

Matthew 24:37-39 – As the days of Noah, so will be the coming [parousia — kingly presence] of the Son of Man. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they didn’t know until the flood came, and took them all away, so will be the coming [parousia – Kingly presence] of the Son of Man

Luke 17:26 – As it happened in the days of Noah, even so will it be also in the days [parallels with “parousia” of Matthew 24:37] of the Son of Man.

Thus the world in general is carrying on these affairs in the days of Jesus’ parousia, that is, his parousia is not known to them, as testified by the fact that they don’t know, or understand. When this present evil world is destroyed, then the sunlight of the kingdom and the righteous will be revealed — the revealing of the saints. Then will follow the resurrection of the world. It is not until after the world’s resurrection, that even those who pierced him will be brought back to life so that they may “see” him, and thus “They also who err in spirit shall come to understanding, and those who murmur shall receive instruction.” — Revelation 1:7; Isaiah 29:24.

Someone has objected that lightning does go from east to west. This may be true in some cases, but such lightning is between clouds and still only lasts for a split second. Cloud-to-cloud lightning is said to occur more often than cloud to ground strikes, but such cloud-to-cloud lightning may or may not be seen from the ground, and is more often seen as light behind the shadows of the clouds. While it is very doubtful that this is what Jesus had in mind when he spoke his words, nevertheless, this could describe the conditions set forth in Isaiah 5:30; Joel 2:2; Zephaniah 1:15.

The National Lightning Saftey Institute states: “Lightning’s behavior is random and unpredictable.”
http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_pls/lsvl_plans.html

Lightning, as seen from earth in the sky in Israel, usually is seen as going downward, not from east to west. This is in agreement with Luke 10:18, in which Jesus may have used astrape to describe lightning as falling from the sky in the land of Israel, although more than likely Jesus was referring to Satan figuratively as what we often call a “falling star” which falls from the sky.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/top-25-photos-year-gallery-1.1229140?pmSlide=17

http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/Pszb-cX0I6q/Lightning+Storm+Brings+Much+Needed+Rain+Holy

http://www.flickr.com/photos/45712602@N07/8125253395/

He said to them, “I saw Satan having fallen like lightning [astrape] from heaven.”

True, Jesus is speaking figuratively, but, as it reads in most translations, the figure be using natural lightning to depict what happened when Satan disobeyed and fell out harmony with God.

However, as stated before, we tend to believe that astrape in Luke 10:18 refers to a falling star, not lightning, which would tend to support the idea that Matthew 24:27 refers, not to lightning, but to the sun traveling from east to west. This view is supported by the fact that astrape is derived from the Greek word *aster* which does mean “star.” Nevertheless, we should not expect that the Bible would use the words for “star” with the same classifications that modern scientists have developed.

Additionally, the Hebrew word often transliterated as ‘owr (Strong’s Hebrew #216) is used similarly, sometimes meaning lightning, sometimes meaning sunlight, light of a lamp, etc.
http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Hebrew/heb.cgi?number=0216

Lightning travels in both directions, upward and downward, but that which is usually seen from the earth is the shining which extends downward, not east to west.

http://thunder.msfc.nasa.gov/primer/primer2.html

Someone argues: “The point of Matthew 24:27 is to try to convey a understanding that when Jesus returns ‘every eye shall see him,’ just as every eye (person) sees the sun as it appears to go from east to west.” Yes, “every eye” will see Jesus, but Revelation 1:7 refers to a later stage of his return, not to the first appearance as likened to the sun. Those who pierced Jesus hve to be raised from the dead before they “see” Jesus in glory coming in the coulds. Thus, it is one of the events to take place sometime after the initial return of Jesus. After the sun has arisen, and Satan has been abyssed, all will be enabled to “see” the sun; this will be the time when he comes with all his saints to judge the world, that the world may be delivered (saved) from the bondage of corruption when the saints are revealed. (1 Thessalonians 3:13; Isaiah 2:2-4; Romans 8:19-21) However, Jesus first comes as a thief to harvest the earth, in which the tares are bound in bundles and symbolically cast into the symbolic furnace of fire, after which the sons of God are manifested; when the sons of God are finally made manifest Jesus comes with all his saints, and every eye shall see him, after the harvest is ended, and after Satan has been abyssed.

See the study:
The Parousia, Seventh Trumpet, and the Harvest

But what did Jesus mean when he said, “the kingdom is your midst”? (Luke 17:21) In the King James, and many other translations, this reads: “the kingdom is within you.” This leads to the false reasoning that the kingdom is within a person. Directly, however, Jesus was speaking to the unbelieving Jews; was he saying to those unbelieving Jews that the kingdom was within them? In the first century, the kingdom was in their midst in that the king of the kingdom was standing their in their midst, but they did not recognize him; they could “see” his body of flesh, but did not “see” him for who he was. (Matthew 13:13-17; John 1:10) Although more than likely Jesus was speaking prophetically of the future time when he would return in his kingdom, the circumstances of his first appearance in the first century do provide an illustration of this second appearance. At his second appearance, however, he does not come in the flesh, for he does not come again to sacrifice his flesh, since that flesh was sacrificed at his first appearing, and offered to God after Jesus ascended into heaven. — Hebrews 9:28; 10:10; 26; 1 Peter 3:18.

Addendum One:

Quote from Adam Rutherford:

The translation of the Greek word astrape by “lightning” in Matthew 24:27, Luke 17:24 in our English Bibles is misleading and is partly responsible for wrong conclusions regarding the manner of the Second Advent. It is true that astrape means “lightning” but it also has a wider meaning. Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon gives the meaning of astrape in New Testament Greek as “any bright light”. Jesus Himself, as recorded in Luke 11:36 speaks of “the bright shining (astrape) of a lamp”. The same Greek word is used again in Our Lord’s Great Prophecy of Matthew 24, where in verse 27 He speaks of a bright light “coming forth from the east and shining even unto the west”. There is only one bright light that does this, namely the sun (moonlight is faint and the starlight is small). So the correct translation of Matthew 24:27 is “For as the sunlight (astrape) cometh forth from the east and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the presence (parousia) of the Son of man be.” Only those who are awake and watching see the first gleams of light and watch the increasing light and dawn, whilst later when the sun rises in the sky and moves over to the west, it is observed by all. So likewise, only those awake to the signs of the times and watching discern the Lord’s presence in the early days of the Second Advent, whilst later, when He manifests Himself, “every eye shall see Him”, for His parousia, i.e. His presence continues throughout the Millennium. (Pyramidology, Book IV, 1972, page 1487)

Related Pages Online
We do not necessarily agree with all statements made.

Signs of Christ’s Presence: Bright Shining Sun
http://www.biblestudents.org/presence/signs_sun.htm

As The Lightning Cometh
http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1956_12.htm#_Toc36375045
Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, December 1956.

The Appearing and Revealment of Jesus Christ
http://www.dawnbible.com/2006/0605cl-1.htm

The Promise of His Presence
http://www.heraldmag.org/bookstore/booklet_promise.htm
Herald of Christ’s Presence (booklet)

Messiah’s Kingdom To Be Invisible
http://www.agsconsulting.com/htdbv5/r5455.htm
Zion’s Watch Tower, Reprints 5455.

Sign’s of Christ’s Presence
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTFEB92.PDF
Beauties of the Truth, February 1992

Parousia (Discourse by Home Montague, Agawam Convention, 2009 – MP3)

Christ’s Second Coming – Its Manner and Purpose
http://www.dawnbible.com/2013/1302-hl.htm
The Manner of His Presence
http://www.dawnbible.com/1963/6302-hl.htm

The Parousia, the Seventh Trumpet and the Harvest

[Bibles, Bible-Related Books and Other Items]
[The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-Greek-English]
[Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary]


Some have confused the matter concerning the parousia, and have evidently misread the arguments of many of the Bible Students so as to conclude that the word “Parousia” is being interpreted as having the definition of “invisible presence.” In other words, some have made the claim that Bible Students who believe that Christ’s parousia is invisible are presenting the word “parousia” itself as carrying the meaning “invisible.” Without judging the motives of those who would present this kind of argument, in reality the argument diverts attention from the invisible aspect of Christ’s return to the word “parousia” itself, and ends up being a strawman argument.

Some have cited some works of the Greeks and Romans concerning this, as alleged proof that the the word “parousia” does not mean “invisible.” Of course, the Romans and Greeks of the first century, not knowing or understanding spiritual matters, would not think of the word Parousia as expressing a spiritual presence that could not be seen. — 2 Corinthians 4:18; 5:7.

Nevertheless, the word parousia, of itself, does not prove either a visible or invisible presence, and we don’t believe most, if any, Bible Students have intended to leave that impression.

Jesus, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, and having once for all time offered up his flesh, will never be seen in that flesh again. (Hebrews 7:27; 9:28; 10:10; 1 Peter 3:18) However, this does not rule out the possibility that Jesus may manifest himself as did the angels of Yahweh in the Bible, who appeared as “men,” ate as men, and looked like men, manifesting themselves with a body of flesh. — Genesis 18:2,8,22; 19:1,5; Judges 13:2,6,8,9; Luke 24:4.
See the study:
Jesus Died a Human Being – Raised a Spirit Being
http://atonement.reslight.net/archives/1.html

However, Jesus does indeed return bodily, with a body, that is, with the spiritual, celestial body, and with its glory. He no longer has the body of a man, a glory a little lower than the angels. (Hebrews 2:9) Having offered (to his God in heaven) his terrestrial, earthly, fleshly body for sin, once for all time (John 6:51; Hebrews 7:27; 9:11,12,24;10:10), he will never again be seen with that body. (1 Corinthians 15:40,44) Now being a life-giving spirit, he comes again from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:40,45-48), during the blowing of the last trumpet, the seventh trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 8:2,6), with a celestial, spiritual body, resulting in (not necessarily in the order given):

(1) The end of the age, during which a harvest of the people of God begins. This harvest begins while the nations are still blinded by Satan, but it ends after Satan is abyssed, when the saints, the sons of God of this age, will be manifested and “will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father.” (Matthew 13:3-43; Romans 8:19} Unlike many Bible Students, however, we do not believe that this harvest reveals who is of what class by any visible manifestation, except until after Satan is abyssed. Jesus said that the tares, not the wheat, are first gathered and bundled. (Matthew 13:39,40) Although the human servants of God labor in the harvest work, the harvest work itself is not entrusted to men, who would surely misjudge and treat much of wheat as tares, but it is entrusted to angels.

(2) The nations become angry, resulting in a great “time of trouble”, during which time the people in general do not take notice of the parousia. — Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26-30; Revelation 11:15,18; Daniel 12:1,2.

(3) God’s wrath upon the children of wrath of this age comes to its conclusion — Ephesians 2:2,3; 5:6; Revelation 8:1.

(4) The dead are raised and the unjustified in this age are judged individually during the “last day” — Isaiah 2:2-4; Daniel 7:9,10; Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:28,29; 6:39,40,44,54; 12:47,48; Romans 2:16; 3:6; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 6:2; 2 Timothy 4:1,8; Revelation 11:18; 20:11-15.

(5) God’s servants, prophets, saints are rewarded in the first resurrection. — Isaiah 40:10; Daniel 7:9,10; 12:1,2; Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 3:8,14; Colossians 3:24; 2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 15:18; 20:4; 22:12.

(6) Those who would destroy the earth are themselves destroyed after the judgment day. — Psalm 37:10; Revelation 15:18; 20:8,12; 21:8.

Thus, the seventh trumpet begins to sound while the nations are still ignorant and are angry, and continues to sound until after the millennial age, up to the age of the ages, the eternal age.

Of Moses, it is said that, “he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27) In context, “him” could be referring to the prehuman Jesus, who, before coming the earth, had the glory of the invisible, the celestial — the glory that he did not have while on earth. (John 17:5; 1 Corinthians 15:40) Or, more than likely, “him” probably refers to the God and Father of Jesus, who is the “invisible God.” (Colossians 1:15) Either way, Moses saw him who is invisible by the eye of faith, not by literal sight, for he did not see that which is invisible by means of the physical eye. The point is that “seeing” does not necessarily mean seeing with the physical eye.
On the other hand, the Jews in general saw Jesus at his first appearing in the flesh, but did not see who he was — the Messiah — which could only have been seen with the eye of faith. They did not recognize him. (John 1:10) Nor could they “see” the God and Father in Jesus. (John 14:9) Having seen Jesus in the flesh, however, Jesus said of the world that had seen him in the flesh, that they would see him no more. (John 14:19) Since they had only seen him in the flesh, and had not seen him with the eye of faith as the Messiah, the son of God, then this can only mean that they will never see him in the flesh again. They will see the Son of Man coming [Erchomai] on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, including those who pierced him. All the tribes of the earth will mourn over him. Even so, Amen. — Revelation 1:7.

The word “coming” in Revelation 1:7 is not “parousia,” but a form of the verb “Erchomai,” — to come. However, we have no doubt that it is reference to “coming” in the days of the son of man, the parousia. (Matthew 24:37; Luke 17:26) The statement here is not that he comes on a cloud, a singular cloud, but rather “clouds.”

Another scripture describes this event in the Old Testament:

I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. — Daniel 7:13.

Again, the reference is to clouds, plural, not a cloud, singular. Prophetically, the plural can used to represent two, as “times,” representing two times. (Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Revelation 12:14) Regardless, there is the possibility of at least two clouds being spoken of, indicating the possibility of two symbolic meanings. A cloud or clouds can represent: glory (Exodus 16:10; Ezekiel 1:28); guidance (Exodus 13:12); covering of sin (Isaiah 44:24); darkness (2 Samuel 22:12; Job 38:9; Psalm 18:11; Isaiah 5:30; Joel 2:2; Zephaniah 1:15); a covenant, a promise of God (Genesis 9:13,16); God’s anger (Lamentations 2:1); alienation from God (Lamentations 3:44); storms (Ezekiel 1:4; 38:9; Luke 12:54; Jeremiah 4:13; Nahum 1:4); a hiding of the sun (Ezekiel 32:7); majesty (Isaiah 14:14); a communication from God (Exodus 24:16; Psalm 99:7; Matthew 17:5; Luke 9:35); trouble, distress (Ezekiel 30:3; Zephaniah 1:15).

In Daniel 7, the one like a son of man, in coming with the clouds, comes before the Ancient of Days, that is, Yahweh, and is presented to him. As a result, there was given to him an everlasting dominion, and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. (Daniel 7:14) This brings us into the age of the ages, the everlasting age after the millennial age, the age that will never end.

In Revelation 10:1, we find a reference to an angel coming in a cloud (singular).

Revelation 10:1 I saw another mighty angel coming down out of the sky [heaven], clothed with a cloud. A rainbow was on his head. His face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.

Here is depicted an angel clothed as with a cloud. Of course, the language is symbolic. The “angel” is either Jesus or a messenger (angel) representing Jesus. Jesus, of course, will come as the “sun of righteousness.” — Malachi 4:2.

The “rainbow” probably represents the new covenant, which will be the means by which the seed of Abraham will bring blessings to all the families of the earth.
This angel is clothed with a cloud, a symbol of majesty, and yet we believe that it is also includes a symbolism of mystique, as a cloud hiding the sun, producing darkness. The angel has a face like the sun of righteousness, as a great ruler, but he also has feet like pillars of fire, representing a distressful situation and/or destruction. “Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Yahweh’s wrath, but the whole land will be devoured by the fire of his jealousy.” (Zephaniah 1:18) “My determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour on them my indignation, even all my fierce anger, for all the earth will be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.” (Zephaniah 3:8) In this is pictured the wrath of Yahweh (Revelation 11:18), which wrath is brought to a finish during the blowing of the seventh trumpet, by means of seven symbolic bowls that are poured out. — Revelation 11:15,18; 15:1,7.

Revelation 10:2 He had in his hand a little book open. He set his right foot on the sea, and his left on the land.
Revelation 10:3 He cried with a loud voice, as a lion roars. When he cried, the seven thunders uttered their voices.
Revelation 10:4 When the seven thunders sounded, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from the sky saying, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders said, and don’t write them.”
Revelation 10:5 The angel who I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to the sky,
Revelation 10:6 and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there will no longer be delay,
Revelation 10:7 but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as he declared to his servants, the prophets.

Thus, we believe this cloud appears either shortly before or at the beginning of the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the last trumpet. The prophetical statement is that when the angel is about to sound his trumpet, the last trumpet, then the mystery of God is finished. The Greek word rendered “about” — transliterated as “Mello,” does not necessarily mean “about,” as though it was something yet to happen. We believe that it can also refer to the actual “being about” of something, that is, the actual doing of what is being spoken of, and we believe, in accordance with the context, “in days of the voice of the seventh angel,” that this is meaning of Mello in Revelation 10:7. When the seventh angel, having the seventh trumpet, is about the business of blowing his trumpet, then the mystery of God is finished. Many believe that this mystery refers to completing the mystery members of the bride of Christ, but we believe it refers to the completing of the mystery pertaining to the ages; in other words, it pertains to bringing to completion God’s purpose of the ages (Ephesians 3:9,11,Young’s Literal), which would bring us to up to the foretold “world without end,” or the age of the ages, the final age that never ends. — Isaiah 45:17; Ephesians 3:21, See Young’s Literal for Ephesians 3:21.

I looked, and behold, a white cloud; and on the cloud one sitting like a son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. — Revelation 14:14
Another angel came out from the temple, crying with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Send forth your sickle, and reap; for the hour to reap has come; for the harvest of the earth is ripe!” — Revelation 14:15
He who sat on the cloud thrust his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. — Revelation 14:16.

Let both grow together until the harvest, and in the harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First, gather up the darnel, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn.” — Matthew 13:30.

The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. — Matthew 13:39.

The “age” being referred to this present evil age, the age in which Satan is god. — Galatians 1:4; 2 Corinthians 4:4.

By saying that the “harvest time” is the end of this age, and then describing events that take place during that “end,” Jesus shows that the “end” is not something that happens suddenly, but that the “end” itself — being “the time of the harvest” — is a period of “time.”

Revelation 14:14 depicts one like a son of man coming on a white cloud, a cloud of glory, and he has a sharp sickle in his hand.Revelation 14:16-20 shows that the sickle is used to harvest the earth.

When Jesus comes, one of the things he accomplishes is the harvest of the earth by means of his angels. This takes place during the “end” of the present evil age, while Satan is still the “god of this age.” As long as Satan is still blinding the minds of people, we know that this “harvest” has not ended. Nevertheless, the harvest does take place as a result of Jesus’ coming on the clouds.

Thus we conclude that the harvest has been going on, especially since about 1874, with an influx of worldly knowledge that is separating the tares from the true wheat. Jesus said that the tares were to be first separated from the wheat (Matthew 13:30), again indicating a time involved; the tares are thrown into the fiery furnace (symbolic of the the severe part of the time of trouble), and the wheat is gathered into the barn (representing a condition of spiritual safety; the spiritual ark, true faith in Jesus’ sacrificed body with its blood by which we are sanctified, set apart — Hebrews 9:12,14; 10:10,29). Then, after this, the wheat — the righteous — will shine forth as the sun, depicting the age to come, when Satan is abyssed so that he cannot deceive the heathen. — Daniel 12:3; Matthew 13:43; Revelation 20:3.

Jesus indicated that the foretold time of trouble is pictured by what happened in Noah’s day, thus, it is possible that the last part of the foretold time of trouble is depicted by the 40 days’ flood of Noah’s day. (Genesis 7:4; Matthew 24:37,38) We are now certainly experiencing a flood of knowledge now available through the internet and other means of fast communication. More and more professed Christians are falling into infidelity as a result of this influx of knowledge, thus proving themselves to be tares, rather than wheat. This increase of knowledge, however, brings discontent among the masses, and greed, and thus is also a source of trouble, and ends up being like a fiery furnace, as “fiery feet” stomping upon the people, with the trouble becoming so bad, that unless the days should be cut short, no flesh will be saved. — Matthew 24:21,22.

Addendum:

One asks if we believe that Jesus returned in 1874 and “inspected the temple”.

While we probably not put it that way, we do believe that Jesus began the harvest work related to the separating of the tares from the wheat; this is indeed an inspection of all who profess to be Christian, and since those who are being called to follow Jesus are spoken of as the temple of God,  one could say that this is a inspection of the temple. Many claim that the harvest is carried out along physical lines, but we believe the harvest is along spiritual lines, and that is carried out, not by the servants of Jesus in the flesh, but by the angels.

The questioner further asks:  “Did jesus make a decision during that time period and make a chosing of a particular group?”

The questioner is evidently asking if we have a belief similar the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who claim that Jesus, in 1918, inspected the temple, and approved of Rutherford’s religion, to which our answer is no. We need to remember that that the choosing of the faith seed of Abraham has been going on ever since the first century. In 1874, we believe that a special period began which is called the “harvest”. However, we also believe that the choosing of the wheat class at the end of the age is done by means of the angels, and therefore, we conclude that the wheat class cannot be represented by any physical group, such as the Bible Students. The revealing of the wheat, however, cannot be until after Satan is abyssed.

The questioner further asks: “Did jesus really return and examine babylon the great, and then appoint a certain group? Was that the great tribulation? “

By “group”, I assume this refers to physical outward group, such the Jehovah’s Witnesses, or the Bible Students movement. We have no reason to believe that Jesus has appointed a certain sectarian group, nor a certain individual, etc., to be “the true religion”, or “the true church.” Babylon the Great represents sectarianism, denominationalism, organizations (and associated false doctrines created by humans) that separate the sheep. To come out of Babylon the Great would signify rejection of denominational sectarianism and, and to the extent possible, the doctrines of men associated with such demoninationalism. The destruction of Babylon the Great signifies the destruction of all kinds of sectarianism and denominationalism. God is not going to allow such sectarian divisions to continue in His kingdom.

On the other hand, the tares are now being revealed as false Christians, often denying the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, accepting the idea that man got here by evolution, etc. Many of these tares openly deny Christ, and openly declare themselves as deists, agnostics, atheists, etc., while others retain the name of Christ, but in some way deny the power of blood of Jesus. Indeed, one can often hear of some claiming to be a Christian atheist, Christian agnostic, Christian deist, Christian Wiccan, Christian Buddhist, Christian Spiritualist, etc. We do believe, however, most of the Christians who profess Christ today will be found to be of the tare class. Nor does joining in association with the Bible Students movement make one of the wheat class. This does not mean that those who are found to be tares will be eternally destroyed, as the JWs teach; it simply means that their outward standing as a servant of Christ will eventually be burned up in the furnace of the time of trouble. No one amongst mankind, however, has been given any authority to point to this or that professed Christian and say “You are a tare,” although many are claiming they have authority to do so. Likewise, we have no authority to claim that one is of the wheat class because they belong to the Bible Students movement. Nor can we believe we have any authority to designate who among the “wheat” class will be found to arrived at the goal, the mark, of the prize of our high calling, so we should say to this person: “You are one of 144,000”, and to another, “You are not one of the 144,000.” We believe that all three major classes of Revelation 7 will be revealed after Satan is abyssed.

Thus, we do not believe that Jesus came in 1874 to inspect and approve any outward “group” as being approved as the JWs teach in doctrine concerning 1918. The inspection is of individuals, not of an outward “group.” Nor do we teach, as to the JWs, that one has belong to and/or recognize the Bible Students, Charles Taze Russell, or any other outward group, etc., in order to be saved, as as to live into the new age.

As Charles Taze Russell pointed out many times, the true church is not about an outward organization, but it pertains to individuals.

See also:

The Great Multitude
The 144,000 and the Twelve Tribes

Charles Taze Russell and sectarianism

The questioner asks if we “are saying that jesus inspected the temple in 1874, and found that the sect called ‘russelites’, or ‘bible students’ were thus in an approved condition?”

We do not know of any place that Russell taught expressly that Jesus “inspected the temple” in 1874, but Russell’s view of the temple had nothing to do with any external sect, group, denomination, etc. His view of the temple was that the temple is the church that belongs to Christ. Russell was non-sectarian.

Russell stated:“the Lord in Heaven records as members of His true Church all the saintly — whether Roman Catholics, Anglican Catholics, Greek Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc.— and none others…. Do we not see that a part of our mistake was in calling the outward organization the Church of Christ, instead of remembering that the Lord alone writes the names of the Church, that He alone reads the hearts, that He alone is the Judge, and that He alone has the right to blot out the names of those who become reprobates?… We must see that the Church is a comparatively small company of saintly footstep followers of Jesus, irrespective of sectarian lines.”

And Russell stated: “all who are worshiping any church organization should be warned. See thou do it not.’ These are thy fellow servants.‘Worship God.’`Rev. 22:9`.”

He further stated:“so far as the true Church is concerned, the only authority in it is the Lord, the Head of the Church, and his Word, and the words of those whom he specially chose to be his mouth-pieces, the apostles.”

And,“we believe that in every nation and denomination there are some true saints of God, members therefore of the true Church of God.”
http://ctr.reslight.net/?p=505

Thus, Russell viewed the temple of God to be any true Christian, regardless of what external group or denomination he might be associated with. His view of the temple of God was not restricted to a “group”, such as the Bible Students, nor a denomination, nor a religious organization, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Indeed, Russell preached against the kind of authoritarianism and sectarianism that is found in the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ organization.

See: Charles Taze Russell and the one true church

Related

Russell’s Disappointment Over 1878
The 144,000 and the Twelve Tribes – Revelation 7
Astrape in Luke 17:22; Matthew 24:27
Bible Chronology and Bible Time Prophecy

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

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.

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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

Bible Chronology and Bible Time Prophecy

Bible Chronology, of itself, is not time prophecy; however, since Bible time prophecy is closely associated with one’s understanding of Bible chronology,  many often confuse the two as though they are one and the same.

As most Bible Students know, Bible chronology and time prophecy has been a subject of disagreement amongst Bible Students, even in the days of Russell. We do not believe that Bible chronology or one’s understanding of time prophecy is a matter that should bring a division amongst Christians. To allow such to cause division is, in effect, as Paul stated, a sign of carnal thinking. See our study on Sectarianism.

Before proceeding, we need to clarify a misperception that many, especially amongst those who oppose Russell, have concerning Russell.  Some have attributed the attitude of the JWs to Russell, and have claimed that Russell taught that any who disagreed with him was not Christian; this is the thought that we have found repeated concerning Russell on many websites, blogs and forums. Some put it that Russell taught that if you did not accept what he taught, that you would not be saved. This kind of reasoning is actually attributing the later teachings of Joseph Rutherford to Brother Russell. Russell never taught that one had to agree with him or else that one is not a Christian; he certainly never taught that one had to agree with him in order to be saved (as some of his opponents have claimed).

One great question that prevailed in the time of Russell, and is still with us to this day, is whether Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 606 (actually 607) BC, or at another date, often given as somewhere between 589 to 585 BC. Most historians, based on findings and conclusions that archaeologists reach from those findings, believe that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587, not 607. However, we believe that the date 607 for the destruction of Jerusalem harmonizes the Bible so well, that we would find it hard to ignore that harmonization. We should remember that conclusions reached by archaeologists often conflict with the Bible, and most archaeologists, based on their conclusions, reject the Bible as being worthy of consideration as far as historical chronology is concerned. Many Christians, nevertheless, wish to accept the conclusions of archaeologists regarding when Jerusalem was destroyed, but they often reject the conclusions of these same “experts” as related to many other things that would not harmonize with the Bible.  At any rate, we have very high regard, and we certainly have great love, for many of our brothers who reject the date of 607 BC as being the date of Jerusalem’s destruction, but because we have found, from our own studies, that the date 607 harmonizes so well with the Bible as a whole, as Russell presented in Volumes 2 and 3 of Studies in the Scriptures, that we accept that 607 comes closer to harmonizing with the scriptural record itself than 587. Nevertheless, like Russell, we are not dogmatic concerning this, and allow room that we could be wrong, and that there is always the possibility that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 or thereabouts.

Some have proposed that if Jerusalem was not destroyed in 607, then the date 1914 is wrong. No, this would be the wrong conclusion. There are many Bible Students who believe that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587, or 589, or some other date, but who still hold to the date 1914. The date — 1914 — itself is not dependent on accepting that Jerusalem was destroyed in the year 607 BC.

Some have proposed that Christians should ignore time prophecy, or as they usually refer to it, “date setting”.  The claim is usually based on Jesus’ words concerning the passing away of the present heavens and earth. It is claimed that, due to what Jesus said, no one can know when Christ is to return, although Jesus did not use those words pertaining to the beginning of his parousia, but of his coming to bring about the passing away of the present heavens and earth.  Regardless, Jesus included himself as one not knowing the day and hour. Are we to think that Jesus still does not know the day and hour of the beginning of his parousia? Whenever he begins his parousia, will he not know that the his parousia had begun? Furthermore, Jesus told his followers to watch, but does not watching include a study of prophecy, including the study of the Biblical prophecies that relate to periods of time?

Although at the time of the writing of the original editions of  The Studies in the Scriptures, Brother Russell thought that the present heavens and earth would pass away in 1914, ten years before 1914 (in 1904), Russell came to realize that 1914 would be the beginning, not the end, of the time of trouble; thus, his expectation from 1904 onward was the opposite on the matter as he had previously thought.

Elsewhere, we have presented the Bible evidence that Jesus’ parousia begins while the world is ignorant and going about their everyday affairs unaware of Jesus’ parousia.

See our studies:

Christ’s Parousia – Presence or Arrival?

The World Will See Me No More

The Parousia, the Seventh Trumpet and the Harvest

Astrape in Luke 17:22; Matthew 24:27

CTR’s Expectations Concerning 1914

Beginning of the Time of Trouble – Quotes From Russell

Below are some links to various views of Bible Students regarding Bible chronology and time prophecy. Some of them may appear to be dogmatic; others are much less so. Each is evidently convinced that the particular chronology and application of prophecy is correct, and this should be so, else why present the matter at all? At the same time, we believe every Christian has to also understand that whatever conclusion any of us reach may not be “the truth” on the matter; none of us have ascended into heaven so as to present such as “knowledge” — that we absolutely “KNOW” that this or that conclusion is absolutely correct. Thus, it is up to each Christian to accept or reject whatever he finds according to the best of his understanding of scripture.

Charles Taze Russell

Studies in the Scriptures

Universal Anarchy — Just Before or After October 1914 A.D. (June, 1904) — In this article, Russell presents a change in his expectations concerning 1914; before 1904, Russell believed that the time of trouble was end, not begin, in 1914. In 1904, however, he came to expect that the time of trouble was to begin, not end, in 1914. Some expressions in the Studies in the Scriptures were later changed to reflect this, but no exhaustive overhaul of the Studies was ever done, thus leaving some statements reflecting his earlier expectation, while others were changed to reflect his expectation of 1904 and onward.

Fear Not, O Zion (August 1904) – Russell discusses more concerning the change of expectations concerning 1914. We believe that Russell erred regarding the harvest in (1) expecting a physical separation (2) that the wheat would be gathered first –Jesus stated that the tares was to be gathered first — Matthew 13:30 — See: The Parousia, The Havest, and the Trumpet (3) that the harvest would end before the time of trouble begins.

The Time of the Harvest (October, 1904) – A Response regarding the idea that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 BC, not 606  (607) BC. Shows that Brother Russell was expecting that the time of trouble was to begin, not end in 1914, as he had thought previous to 1904. We believe that he was correct in the belief that the time of trouble was to begin in 1914, but that he erred in the assumption that the harvest would end in 1914.  Jesus indicates that the harvest time period extends over into the time after when Satan is abysseed, into the time when the saints are made manifest.  — Matthew 13:43; Romans 8:19; Revelation 20:1-3.

Other Material:

Bible Chronology and History

Bible Students Chronology Documents

Bible Students’ Library 3 – Doctrine: See the Subtitle: Chronology.

Bible Student Ministries Library – See the Subtitle: Chronology

Bible Student Literature: Chronology Books

Bible Prophecy

Christ’s Return in 1874 – MP3 links (2008 CONNELLSVILLE, PA CONVENTION)

The following are links to MP3 recordings to the discourses given at the 2008 Connesville, PA Convention. Please note the the owner of this site does not necessarily agree with all conclusions presented by these speakers.

  1. Technical Definitions of Key Terms – Jerry Leslie
  2. Scriptural Proofs of Jesus’ Personal Return – October 1874 – Laddie Stewart
  3. Evidences of Jesus’ Return (Matthew 24) – Dan Ledwinka
  4. Panel Discussion: Importance of Believing in Jesus’ Personal Return – Ric Cunningham, Dan Ledwinka, Jerry Leslie, Laddie Stewart
  5. Study: Preparing to Meet Our Bridegroom – Dan Slivinsky
  6. The Practical Significance of Jesus’ Personal Return – Dan Slivinsky
  7. Hearing the Voice of the Bridegroom – Ric Cunningham

God willing, we may be adding our own comments to this as time permits.

When God Blesses All Peoples

(1) Today many world leaders and others are trying their best to solve man’s problems and bring about better conditions upon this earth. But it seems that no matter where we look, we are constantly confronted with disheartening troubles. Not only do we have our own personal heartaches, but as we watch T.V., listen to the radio, or read the daily newspaper, we are bombarded with the international, national, and local distresses that the world is in. But will man ever find any lasting solutions to the age-old problems of war, sickness, disease, crime, and the more modern problems of pollution and mental breakdown of society? But, of course, man’s greatest enemy is death. For man to completely be ideal, he would need to have continuous hope for the future. Can we ever expect our scientists and doctors to overcome our greatest enemy death?

(2) Only the Bible holds out the true hope for man. There we read about coming blessings for all mankind that will more than counterbalance his present distressful state. The Bible tells us that one night in Judea many years ago, some shepherds were watching their sheep in the fields. But this was no ordinary night, for on this night these shepherds were to see and hear something very unusual. We can read about what happened to them in the Holy Bible, at Luke 2:9-11. There we read that an angel of God appeared to them, and the glory of God “shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them: ‘Be not afraid! For look, I am bringing you good news of great joy which will come to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'”You may recognize this passage as Luke’s record of the birth of Jesus. Thousands of people have thrilled at this story for almost two millennia. Very few, however, have ever grasped the full meaning of the angel’s message that night. How does this good news that the angel gave that night affect you, your family, your neighbors, and all other peoples on earth?

People Need the Good News!

(3) What do the peoples on the earth need to make them happy? The Bible tells us that the whole creation, that is, all mankind, is groaning and travailing in pain, ignorantly waiting for the these promises. Not only is the world waiting in pain, but also those who are truly serving God are also waiting in hope of new and better conditions to come. (Romans 8:19-26) But God hears the groaning cries of His creatures and will bring them to their desired haven. (Psalm 107:26-30) What will be the better conditions to come which all peoples everywhere desire?

God Fulfills Man’s Earnest Desires

(4) One thing that people everywhere desire is to be free of sickness. Can you imagine a world where no one will say “I am sick”? Yet this is part of the promises of the good news contained in the Bible. (Isaiah 33:24) While doctors of today are trying to alleviate some of the suffering of mankind, God has the power and ability to totally eradicate sickness from the earth. And he will do so and much more. Hear the promise as recorded by an apostle of Jesus Christ: “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying: ‘Look! the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there will be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said: ‘Look! I am making all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.'” (Revelation 21:3-5) Does this mean that people will actually live and never die? Yes, this is exactly what God has promised. — Isaiah 25:8; Psalm 37:29.

(5) But, someone might say, I would not like to live forever with all of life’s problems that we have upon this earth! There is further good news from the Bible! The prophet Isaiah tells us that when the blessings arrive upon the earth, people will “not work for nothing, nor bring forth children for trouble.” (Isaiah 65:23) Nor will bad people be allowed to destroy these blessings as often happens now. Then “the inhabitants of the earth will learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:9) Aren’t these blessings what mankind really wants, what he really yearns for?

(6) But wait, what about war? How will all of these blessings come if man cannot get along with each other? Today man is learning the lessons of war. But when God blessings all mankind, the whole earth will be taught the ways of peace. Isaiah tells us that through the worldwide governmental agencies that will be operating then, all nations will be taught how to be at peace. As a result all wars will cease. The implements of warfare will be destroyed and remolded into instruments of productivity. (Isaiah 2:2-4; See also Psalm 46:8-11; Micah 4:3,4) Picture in your mind a world without soldiers and the destructive weapons of today. Won’t it be a sigh of relief to see these gone?

(7) But there is one more thing. What about our loved ones who have died? Have they missed out on these blessings? No, for Jesus promised that all in the graves will come forth, some to life, some to judgment (Greek, krisis). They will be given an opportunity to partake of these blessings. (John 5:28,29; Isaiah 25:6-9) Wouldn’t you like to see your loved ones alive again, and happy?

How Will These Blessings Come?

(8) Man has been trying for six thousand years to bring about better things upon this earth. But each new invention, each government, each new development, has brought fresh problems resulting in revolutions, insurrections, and dissatisfaction. To illustrate, during the nineteenth century it was generally believed that man would gradually bring about peace and security by new technology and knowledge. But the outbreak of World War I in 1914 brought in a new era of unparalleled insecurity and distrust. As more and more knowledge is gathered and dispersed on secular topics, it has also spread distrust, fear and dissatisfaction, leading to turmoil and worldwide trouble. And, now, it appears, from the standpoint of man alone, that the world is involved in never-ending war with terrorism. These things are foretold in the Bible as marking the time of the end of the kingdoms of this world. (Daniel 12:1,4; 2:44) All such divisions amongst man will be done away with, allowing for peace to finally come. When the kingdoms of this world are finally removed, then God’s own kingdom will fill the whole earth, bringing about the conditions mentioned earlier. This is spoken of as the “good news of the kingdom.” — Matthew 9:35; 24:14.

(9) When will these things occur? We believe in the near future. Prophecies that are now being fulfilled give us reason to believe that God’s kingdom will soon bring peace and security to all the world. Jesus foretold that in the time of his second coming there would be “distress of nations, with perplexity, men’s hearts failing them for fear” (Luke 21:25,26), as they see things “coming upon the face of the earth.” The apostle Paul tells us that the last days would be marked by a great increase of wickedness and selfishness. (2 Timothy 3:1-5,13) Indeed, these very conditions are what we are experiencing in the earth today! Especially with constant threat of terrorists, the nations are becoming more and more distressed, as the cost of fighting terrorism increases, affecting the economies of the nations.

(10) Without a doubt, the nations today, with their nuclear weaponry could completely obliterate all life upon the earth! Likewise, with other methods of warfare, such as germ and gas warfare. If man is permitted to continue in his mad race to self destruction, this could indeed be his doom! How, then, can we expect hope for the future? Because man will not be permitted to destroy himself, neither by nuclear warfare nor by any other means. Jesus said: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever will be. And except those days be shortened, there should be no flesh saved. But for the chosen’s sake, those days will be shortened.” (Matthew 24:20,21) In other words, Jesus tells us that things will not be allowed to continue to the point that “there should be no flesh saved.” To his followers in this time he said: “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your deliverance is approaching.” — Luke 21:28.

Faith in the Promises

(11) How can a person believe this? How can we know for a certainty that these things will come to pass? How can we be sure that all these promises aren’t nothing more than the passing fantasies of the writers? The Bible describes faith as “the reality of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) What evidence is there that these promises will come true? One of the major evidences we have is fulfilled prophecies. We can build faith in God’s Word if we can see how the prophecies recorded in the Bible have been accurately fulfilled in the past.

(12) To illustrate, let us see how we build faith in everyday occurrences. We generally have faith that tomorrow will come. We make our plans for the next day, next week, next month, and even next year. We have faith that the next day will come, for if we didn’t have that faith, there would be no need to make plans for those days. But there are reasons for having such a faith. One reason we have this faith is because we have seen the cycle of day and night continue each day since our birth. Had we suddenly been placed into our environment fully developed we might have experienced anxiety as we saw the first evening bring darkness, not believing and not knowing that another day would follow. And if someone who had seen the cycles before had told us that another day was coming, we may have hesitated to believe him until we actually saw it for ourselves. But as it is, having seen these cycles, we have confidence in them for the future.

(13) Likewise, it is the same with the Bible. It may be hard to have confidence in the Bible if we have not seen how accurately it has foretold events hundreds, even thousands of years before they occurred. Additionally, many peoples minds have been turned against the Bible as there is an increasing flood of material that would claim that the Bible is untrustworthy, self-contradictory, etc. Nevertheless, through a careful examination of fulfilled prophecies, verified by history books, we will gain confidence in God’s promises, as we will eventually realize that “God … cannot lie.” (Titus 1:2) While there are other sources of prophecy, many of the prophecies from these sources do not come true, whereas not one of the one of God’s words have failed, nor will they fail in the future. — Joshua 23:14.

(14) The Bible alone shows us what will be the outcome of the present unrest, selfishness and dissatisfaction. The Bible tells that those who think they can bring in the Messianic blessings by carnal weapons are deluding themselves; they have, instead, brought upon themselves, the poor as well as upon the rich, the great and awful trouble which the Scriptures foretold “a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation.” (Daniel 12:1) Jesus quoted this passage and added to it the words: “No, nor ever shall be.” (Matthew 24:21) Thank God! that this great, awful “time of trouble,” in which every man’s hand will eventually be against his neighbor and against his brother, will not last. (Ezekiel 18:21; Haggai 2:22) What do the scriptures say to one today who desires to do God’s will? “Seek righteousness, seek meekness. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of Yahweh’s anger.” And we can only find righteousness by putting faith in and obeying Jesus as our Lord and Savior. — Zephaniah 2:3; Romans 3:10-13,23; 5:1,8,9; 10:9; John 3:16; 15:14; 17:3; 1 John 3:23,24.

We hope you will read some of the other Bible studies of Restoration Light Bible Study Services. God willing, we hope to present studies of many of the prophecies of the Bible that may enable one to see and understand, if willing to do so. For those with a hearing ear, through the holy spirit one can know that the Bible is truly the “word of God”. (1 Thessalonians 2:13) We can have reason to believe that God used men to write the words of the Bible, but their writing was done under the direction of God’s holy spirit. You will “know that every prophecy of Scripture did not come into being of its own interpretation, for prophecy was not at any time borne by the will of man, but being borne along by the holy spirit, holy men of God spoke.” — 2 Peter 1:20,21.

Christ’s Parousia – Presence or Arrival?

Some present the thought that the parousia of Jesus refers to his arrival, not “presence.” We present below our short study regarding this.

Initially, Christ comes as a thief in the night, “The kingdom of God doesn’t come with observation.” (Luke 17:20, World English Bible translation) “nor will they say, `Look, here it is!’ or, `There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:21, NASB translation) Then Jesus states, as recorded in Matthew 24:27:

Matt 24:27 “For just as the lightning (Greek, astrape: light, bright shining) comes from the east and flashes [Greek, phaino: shines] even to the west, so will the coming [Greek, Parousia: presence] of the Son of Man be. (NAS)

Lightning does not generally come from the east and shine even to the west, but the sun does. The word “lightning” is a poor translation of the Greek word “astrape,” which signifies “bright shining” (as given in Luke 11:36 in the KJV), and really refers here, as the context indicates, to the sunlight which shines always from the east even to the west, while on the other hand, lightning flashes in a variety of directions, wherever the electrical forces producing it may be discharged. A flash of lightning would only luminate the sky for a split second, which is not a good illustration of Jesus’ return.

When the word “presence” is substituted for “coming,” the statement is seen to declare that the presence of Christ will be like the sunlight, gradually illuminating the world. It is not split second of time, in which all the world sees and recognizes Jesus, as some have seemingly assumed.

Those who are awake and watching, the children of the light, are the first to discern and rejoice in His presence. The children of the night and of the darkness will awake when the Sun of Righteousness will arise in His full glory, and all the sin-sick will rejoice in the healing to be gained through the influence of His rays. Therefore, Jesus uses here the illustration of how the sun brings light as it comes up the east and goes to the west. This well depicts the sun of righteousness who arises with healing in his wings. (Malachi 4:2) The shining is not confined to any one place, but its effect is different in different places. The bright shining (verse 27) means truths and knowledge greatly increases, especially during the time that Christ is returning. That this shining is visible from the east to the west, refers to the fact that our Lord’s presence reveals truth that not only is seen now, but even unto the west, the end of the Millennium, even as the sun gradually moves across the sky from east to west. (Revelation 21:23-24). When the sun first rises in the east, it is not especially bright, but the rays of light can be seen gleaming through the sky. As it continues its journey, the shining gets brighter and brighter.

The sun shine of this new day, however, is different from a normal day, for the prophecy says that the bright shining is darkened by the clouds. (Isaiah 5:30; Joel 2:2; Zephaniah 1:15) The clouds we understand to mean obscurity — darkness and trouble on earth. (Isaiah 8:22) It is a unique day, different from what we have known before, for we are told that at evening time, rather than darkness coming, there will be light. (Zechariah 14:7) Thus seen, we can see that this day endures on into the millennial rule, when the world will be instructed in the ways of Yahweh, and the knowledge of Yahweh will fill the earth. — Isaiah 2:2-4; 6:11.

At first, only those who are spiritually awake recognize this presence, (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6) but after Satan is abyssed, all men will become aware of his presence. (Revelation 20:3; Isaiah 25:7; Revelation 1:7) To the watchers in Zion, this light is now seen in the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies, as well as a flood of knowledge that causes understanding of many spiritual truths that were hidden in the darkness of the wilderness for over a thousand years. Thus to them it has a special meaning. But to the world the light first brings a time of trouble, as never seen before in history, for poor humanity, still being out of harmony with God and truth, cannot properly control the increase of knowledge that has so gradually filled the world since 1799. (Daniel 12:1,4) Yet they are ever learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:7) God’s kingdom is in their midst, but they do not recognize it. — Luke 17:21.

Thus seen, in agreement with other scriptures, Christ’s parousia, covers a period of time, in which many things occur. Yes, Jesus does arrive at the beginning of his parousia, his presense as King, and thus remains present. The Greek word parousia means more than just his arrival, since it also includes the things prophesied to happen during his parousia.

W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words: Parousia, literally, a presence, para, with, and ousia, being.denotes both n arrival and a consequent presence with. Robert Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible: Parousia, a being alongside, presence.

Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary of the Greek Testament Foreword: “Parousia, as applied to the return of the Lord, is simply the anglicizing of the Greek word which literally means ‘presence.’

One way of showing that the parousia is a period of time can be seen by comparing two scritpures:

Matthew 24:37-39 – As the days of Noah, so will be the coming [parousia — kingly presence] of the Son of Man. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they didn’t know until the flood came, and took them all away, so will be the coming [parousia – Kingly presence] of the Son of [the] Man

Luke 17:26 – As it happened in the days of Noah, even so will it be also in the days [parallels with “parousia” of Matthew 24:37] of the Son of Man.

Thus the world in general is carrying on these affairs in the days of Jesus’ parousia, that is, his parousia is not known to them. It is not until after the resurrection, that even those who pierced him will be brought back to life so that they may “see” him, and thus “They also who err in spirit shall come to understanding, and those who murmur shall receive instruction.” — Revelation 1:7; Isaiah 29:24.

For more on this, see:

Astrape in Luke 17:22; Matthew 24:27

Related:
Jesus Died a Human Being – Raised a Spirit Being
Did Jesus Raise Himself from the Dead?
Jesus’ Appearances in the Locked Room

For various viewpoints being presented on chronology, see:
http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/bsllinks/Doctrine.htm