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Monday, January 18, 2010

Do Jehovah's Witnesses deny the Ransom?

The Bible Students teach the false view that Jehovah's Witnesses deny the Ransom. In reality, Jehovah's Witnesses do not deny the Ransom, we just reject the Bible Students understanding of it. The Bible Students teach that Jesus died "FOR" Adam, this would then cause a chain reaction that would free "ALL" of mankind. However the Bible states that Jesus died for us as individuals. All of Jehovah's Witnesses love Jesus, and yet many Bible Students hate us. The majority of Jews reject Jesus and these same Bible Students love them. Funny how that works.

2 Peter 2:21-25 (ASV) For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were going astray like sheep; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

1 John 2:1-6 (ASV) My little children, these things write I unto you that ye may not sin. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world. And hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoso keepeth his word, in him verily hath the love of God been perfected. Hereby we know that we are in him: he that saith he abideth in him ought himself also to walk even as he walked.

Colossians 1:13-16 (ASV) who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love; in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins: who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him;

Ephesians 1:3-8 (ASV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ: even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved: in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,

Does not the expression “in Christ shall all be made alive” include Adam?—P. E., Maryland.

Evidently Adam stood in a different position as regards redemption from that occupied by his descendants. He had the right to life, but did not value it or appreciate it enough to hold on to it; whereas his descendants never had the right to life and needed redemption from the beginning. It should be observed that in the statement “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” Adam is excluded from the comparison. (1 Cor. 15:22) We could not say that Adam died in Adam. Adam was personally sentenced to death for his own willful wrongdoing, but not his offspring. Nor does the Bible anywhere say that Adam was the one ransomed to thereby automatically release all his descendants. The ransom is not given for one, but “for many” or “for all”. (Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:6) However, in 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, the apostle is discussing the resurrection of Christ’s body members. The statement that “in Christ shall all be made alive” applies to all those “which are fallen asleep in Christ” (verses 6, 18), and not to mankind in general. (See The Watchtower, April 1, 1944, ¶¶22-25.) Hence those to be thus made alive must come into relationship to Christ as Life-giver and are made members of his body. Not all men receive the benefits of Christ’s ransom, but only “all them that obey him”. The condemnation inherited from Adam is lifted from those who believe and obey Christ Jesus; it remains upon those who do not believe and obey.—John 3:18, 36; Heb. 5:9.

Questions From Readers, 1950 Watchtower, page 367, WTB&TS


The Watchtower, April 1, 1944, ¶¶22-25

Paul’s use of the expression "firstfruits of them that slept" is noteworthy. Christ Jesus once slept in death. He being the firstfruits, then those sleeping in him must be the afterfruits of the "first resurrection" class and must become living fruit unto God by being brought out of the death-sleep. Hence the spirit of God caused the apostle to write further: "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead." (1 Cor. 15: 21) The repeated word came being inserted by the Authorized Version Bible translators, The Emphatic Diagtott reads more accurately: "For since through a man, there is death, through a man, also, there is a resurrection of the dead." Verse 22 next adds: "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

Are those two verses to be taken to mean a resurrection or even an awakening out of death for all the dead? To interpret verses 21 and 22 that way would mean disregarding the Scriptures that prove that many at death have perished, because they have gone down into destruction from which no recovery is possible. Certainly the apostle Paul was not disregarding such scripture texts, many of which he himself wrote. Under the divine inspiration he would not be guilty of contradicting himself. True it is that by Adam’s sin death passed upon all men descending from him, but not "second death", which is the death of destruction in gehenna. (Rev. 20: 14; 21:8) Hence those having only the inheritance of death that was unavoidable through Adam would be redeemable or be in line for a resurrection out of death. Those whose inherited condemnation to death had been added to by willful wickedness that brings the divine judgment of destruction have more than an inheritance from the first man. They go to gehenna, and are not among ’all those that are in their graves’ and who ’shall hear the voice of the Son of God and shall come forth’ in the resurrection
time.--John 5 : 28, 29.

"In Adam all die," by reason of death’s passing from him onto all his offspring; but it is not true that all such eventually die with merely the condemnation they inherited from Adam resting upon them. The malicious, deliberately wicked and rebels against God die not merely as descendants of Adam the sinner, but also as the seed of the Serpent, the children of the wicked one Satan. Adam was not responsible for their dying as such workers of iniquity against God. Hence all such could not be included among all those who in Christ shall be made alive; for Christ’s ransom sacrifice does not cover or cancel such sin of rebellious iniquity and willful wickedness.

It is evident, therefore, that the apostle’s words at 1 Corinthians 15:21, 22 are restricted in application, and that he has in mind all those he was writing about, namely, all those "which are fallen asleep in Christ". (Verses 6, 18) Without question, these were affected by the death that came by the first man, and they all died in Adam, because by him sin entered into the world and death by sin, and all these inherited sin from him and so death and its condemnation naturally passed upon them. But as in Adam they died, so in Christ they shall all be made alive. They shall come forth from the graves "unto a resurrection of life", because of having done good in God’s sight.--Rom. 5:12; John 5: 28, 29.

Christ Jesus’ Role as Ransomer

The foregoing information lays the basis for understanding the ransom provided for humankind through God’s Son, Christ Jesus. Mankind’s need for a ransom came about through the rebellion in Eden. Adam sold himself to do evil for the selfish pleasure of keeping continued company with his wife, now a sinful transgressor, so he shared the same condemned standing with her before God. He thereby sold himself and his descendants into slavery to sin and to death, the price that God’s justice required. (Ro 5:12-19; compare Ro 7:14-25.) Having possessed human perfection, Adam lost this valuable possession for himself and all his offspring.

The Law, which had “a shadow of the good things to come,” provided for animal sacrifices as a covering for sin. This, however, was only a symbolic or token covering, since such animals were inferior to man; hence, it was “not possible for the blood of bulls and of goats [actually] to take sins away,” as the apostle points out. (Heb 10:1-4) Those pictorial animal sacrifices had to be without blemish, perfect specimens. (Le 22:21) The real ransom sacrifice, a human actually capable of removing sins, must therefore also be perfect, free from blemish. He would have to correspond to the perfect Adam and possess human perfection, if he were to pay the price of redemption that would release Adam’s offspring from the debt, disability, and enslavement into which their first father Adam had sold them. (Compare Ro 7:14; Ps 51:5.) Only thereby could he satisfy God’s perfect justice that requires like for like, a ‘soul for a soul.’—Ex 21:23-25; De 19:21.

The strictness of God’s justice made it impossible for mankind itself to provide its own redeemer. (Ps 49:6-9) However, this results in the magnifying of God’s own love and mercy in that he met his own requirements at tremendous cost to himself, giving the life of his own Son to provide the redemption price. (Ro 5:6-8) This required his Son’s becoming human to correspond to the perfect Adam. God accomplished this by transferring his Son’s life from heaven to the womb of the Jewish virgin Mary. (Lu 1:26-37; Joh 1:14) Since Jesus did not owe his life to any human father descended from the sinner Adam, and since God’s holy spirit ‘overshadowed’ Mary, evidently from the time she conceived until the time of Jesus’ birth, Jesus was born free from any inheritance of sin or imperfection, being, as it were, “an unblemished and spotless lamb,” whose blood could prove to be an acceptable sacrifice. (Lu 1:35; Joh 1:29; 1Pe 1:18, 19) He maintained that sinless state throughout his life and thus did not disqualify himself. (Heb 4:15; 7:26; 1Pe 2:22) As a ‘sharer of blood and flesh,’ he was a near kinsman of mankind and he had the thing of value, his own perfect life maintained pure through tests of integrity, with which to repurchase mankind, emancipate them.—Heb 2:14, 15.

The Christian Greek Scriptures make clear that the release from sin and death is indeed by the paying of a price. Christians are said to be “bought with a price” (1Co 6:20; 7:23), having an “owner that bought them” (2Pe 2:1), and Jesus is presented as the Lamb who ‘was slaughtered and with his blood bought persons for God out of every tribe, tongue, and nation.’ (Re 5:9) In these texts the verb a‧go‧ra′zo is used, meaning simply “buy at the market [a‧go‧ra′].” The related e‧xa‧go‧ra′zo (release by purchase) is used by Paul in showing that Christ released “by purchase those under law” through his death on the stake. (Ga 4:5; 3:13) But the thought of redemption or ransoming is more frequently and more fully expressed by the Greek ly′tron and related terms.

Ly′tron (from the verb ly′o, meaning “loose”) was especially used by Greek writers to refer to a price paid to ransom prisoners of war or to release those under bond or in slavery. (Compare Heb 11:35.) In its two Scriptural occurrences it describes Christ’s giving “his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Mt 20:28; Mr 10:45) The related word an‧ti′ly‧tron appears at 1 Timothy 2:6. Parkhurst’s Greek and English Lexicon to the New Testament says it means: “a ransom, price of redemption, or rather a correspondent ransom.” He quotes Hyperius as saying: “It properly signifies a price by which captives are redeemed from the enemy; and that kind of exchange in which the life of one is redeemed by the life of another.” He concludes by saying: “So Aristotle uses the verb [an‧ti‧ly‧tro′o] for redeeming life by life.” (London, 1845, p. 47) Thus Christ “gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.” (1Ti 2:5, 6) Other related words are ly‧tro′o‧mai, “loose by ransom” (Tit 2:14; 1Pe 1:18, 19), and a‧po‧ly′tro‧sis, “a releasing by ransom.” (Eph 1:7, 14; Col 1:14) The similarity of the usage of these words with that of the Hebrew terms considered is evident. They describe, not an ordinary purchase or releasing, but a redeeming or ransoming, a deliverance effected by payment of a corresponding price.

Additional Reading:

Additional Reading:

Though available to all, Christ’s ransom sacrifice is not accepted by all, and “the wrath of God remains” upon those not accepting it, as it also comes upon those who first accept and then turn away from that provision. (Joh 3:36; Heb 10:26-29; contrast Ro 5:9, 10.) They gain no deliverance from the enslavement to Kings Sin and Death. (Ro 5:21) Under the Law the deliberate murderer could not be ransomed. Adam, by his willful course, brought death on all mankind, hence was a murderer. (Ro 5:12) Thus, the sacrificed life of Jesus is not acceptable to God as a ransom for the sinner Adam.

But God is pleased to approve the application of the ransom to redeem those of Adam’s offspring who avail themselves of such a release. As Paul states, “as through the disobedience of the one man many were constituted sinners, likewise also through the obedience of the one person many will be constituted righteous.” (Ro 5:18, 19) At the time of Adam’s sin and his being sentenced to death, his offspring or race were all unborn in his loins and so all died with him. (Compare Heb 7:4-10.) Jesus as a perfect man, “the last Adam” (1Co 15:45), had a race or offspring unborn in his loins, and when he died innocently as a perfect human sacrifice this potential human race died with him. He had willingly abstained from producing a family of his own by natural procreation. Instead, Jesus uses the authority granted by Jehovah on the basis of his ransom to give life to all those who accept this provision.—1Co 15:45; compare Ro 5:15-17.

Thus, Jesus was indeed “a corresponding ransom,” not for the redemption of the one sinner, Adam, but for the redemption of all mankind descended from Adam. He repurchased them so that they could become his family, doing this by presenting the full value of his ransom sacrifice to the God of absolute justice in heaven. (Heb 9:24) He thereby gains a Bride, a heavenly congregation formed of his followers. (Compare Eph 5:23-27; Re 1:5, 6; 5:9, 10; 14:3, 4.) Messianic prophecies also show he will have “offspring” as an “Eternal Father.” (Isa 53:10-12; 9:6, 7) To be such, his ransom must embrace more than those of his “Bride.” In addition to those “bought from among mankind as firstfruits” to form that heavenly congregation, therefore, others are to benefit from his ransom sacrifice and gain everlasting life through the removal of their sins and accompanying imperfection. (Re 14:4; 1Jo 2:1, 2) Since those of the heavenly congregation serve with Christ as priests and “kings over the earth,” such other recipients of the ransom benefits must be earthly subjects of Christ’s Kingdom, and as children of an “Eternal Father” they attain everlasting life. (Re 5:10; 20:6; 21:2-4, 9, 10; 22:17; compare Ps 103:2-5.) The entire arrangement manifests Jehovah’s wisdom and his righteousness in perfectly balancing the scales of justice while showing undeserved kindness and forgiving sins.—Ro 3:21-26.

- Insight on the Scriptures, Volume II, Published by the WTB&TS