Book sealed to the learned but not to the unlearned.

by hoj 29 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • hoj

    Isa 29:11-12 And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.

    Another way of saying this is that the book is sealed to the one who has been taught, but not to the one who hasn’t been taught. The one who hasn’t been taught just needs to be taught.

    The things that we have been taught can keep us from understanding the Bible. Any error in doctrines can keep us in error. Jesus’ prayer for unity (John 17) can’t be answered as long as we are controlled by the doctrines of our teachers.

    The Paradox

    Isaiah presented this as a paradox. The one who has been taught says he can’t read (understand) the book because it is sealed. The one who hasn’t been taught says that he can’t read (understand) it because he hasn’t been taught.

    If the one who hasn’t been taught becomes taught, then the book may be sealed to him too. Even though Isaiah presented the paradox, there must be a way to solve the problem because he ended up saying:

    Isa 29:24 They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.

    The one who was taught but erred will come to understand. The one who wasn’t taught because he rebelled will learn doctrine.

  • notverylikely

    Even though Isaiah presented the paradox, there must be a way to solve the problem

    Isaiah was higher than a kite when he wrote that....

  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason


    Please tell me who wrote this, when it was written, to whom, and what change did the writers intend for their immediate audience to make.

    At the time this was originally written, communication by written means was limited to some of the urban populace, with great scepticism by the rural population of this novel means of communication. Is this fact ("I cannot read because I am not learned") relevant to your understanding of this passage?


  • tec

    This time I think you're reading too much into this. I think this was just a pronouncement against the prophets and seers because of this:

    Isaiah 29:13-14 "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish."

    No matter where they turn, the prophets and seers won't be able to understand - those who can read won't break the seal, and those who would break the seal, can't read.

    Then those who are blind will see, and those who are deaf will see. (Jesus' day)

    Then Jacob will no longer be ashamed. And according to Isaiah 29:24 - Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction.

    This whole thing could be that those who had knowledge of God abused it and lost it; then those who did not have knowledge gained it (through Jesus); but who is to say that 'Jacob' does not mean those who originally had knowledge and lost it, will now regain it?


  • hoj

    I assume Isaiah wrote it, and I would guess about 2500 years ago or so. As far as I know, he wrote it for me. But let's say that he wrote it to the people of his day warning them about organized religion. Even though the message has been there for anyone over all these years, it must be that, at least according to Daniel, the book wasn't intended to be understood until "the time of the end." (I don't believe that means a literal end of the world). But then the wise are to understand. What is the sense in the wise understanding if the world is literally ending?

    Yes, I feel that the unlearned saying that he can't read it because he isn't learned is important to understanding the passage. The book isn't sealed to him because he hadn't been taught error. I don't think it means that he is illiterate and doesn't know how to read. I believe it means "cannot read with understanding" because that fits the context, especially with the last couple of verses of the chapter that says that both the learned and unlearned will understand. I believe Isaiah is in a profound way telling us that if you are taught error and read according to that error, the book is sealed so you won't understand. If you haven't been taught, the Bible is a hard book to understand. The Ethiopian eunuch couldn't understand and needed a guide. If Phillip were to teach him error, the book would have been sealed to him to.

    Isaiah 8:16 I feel makes it clear what book was sealed:

    Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

    The testimony and the law is bound and sealed. That sounds like their Scriptures to me.

  • hoj


    When I read what you wrote it almost sounds like you are agreeing with me. I mean, I could have written what you wrote; but I suppose I might not have meant exactly what you mean.

    Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.

    This sounds like the churches (and Kingdom Halls) of today to me. But I take the "rules" to refer to doctrines. Wisdom and intelligence have perished. Was Daniel speaking of the same sealed book when he said that it was sealed until the time of the end, but then the wise would understand? If so, I don't think Isaiah was speaking of the prophets and seers of his time so much as the "prophets" and "seers" of our time.

    No matter where they turn, the prophets and seers won't be able to understand - those who can read won't break the seal, and those who would break the seal, can't read.

    The whole passage seems to relate to understanding. The prophets and seers lost their wisdom and intelligence. The chapter ends with the two groups coming to understanding. The preceding verses to the learned and unlearned says that their eyes were closed. That shouldn't mean that they were illiterate and couldn't read, but that they couldn't "see" spiritually. I believe "read" means to read with understanding. And if you look at it that way, I think it follows that the learned can't understand because of what he was taught. The unlearned can't understand because he needs a teacher. This makes sense, so I don't see why it isn't likely that it is what Isaiah meant.

  • notverylikely

    hoj, you are doing exactly what everyone else does when there is a confusing passage in the bible, layering on what you think it means by adding your own ideas and taking plain words and writing two paragraphs to explain what it means according to hoj.

  • hoj

    Notverylikely, I suppose you are right. What can I say?

  • EndofMysteries

    Your making it COMPLICATED.

    Breaking it down real easy

    The words of not only this prophecy, but many prophecies ARE going to be sealed to most and they will never get true understanding because they are either

    A. Taught and lead to believe only what they are taught and shown can be true, that if their teachers don't have it right they can't because its not time or that they don't even understand the wrong understanding of their teachers and assume there is something wrong with them


    B. They become like what the WT likes to quote as the Ethiopian Castrate who had no said how can I understand these words if nobody to teach me? (They say that ONE scripture which goes contrary to hundreds showing how you can get instruction by God directly, but that one scripture overrides all that you CAN"T learn the bible and prophesy on your own, when it really was showing that he just had no faith he could understand without being shown and fed 'milk'. If you don't believe or have faith, don't even think you'll get anything. )

    It's only those who seek the treasures, who put faith and try to get understanding, at the very least 'verify' everything they believe and not shy away if the holy spirit is trying to correct and show them the correct understanding.

  • tec

    Hoj - I think our understandings are similar, but perhaps not exactly the same. I think I just added that this 'sealing' was a rebuke, perhaps even a natural consequence of looking toward rules of men instead of God. And I don't feel comfortable applying this as a prophecy to today's age - even though I can certainly see some of 'their worship of me is but rules taught by men' in the churches.

    But we are better off than we were before Christ. Far better off, since we are under grace and not under law. We each have the teachings, the capability, and the invitation of coming to God, through Christ, and in Spirit. I think more and more people are understanding and doing this.

    BTW, just because I don't completely agree with your take, doesn't mean that I don't respect your opinion, or that I don't ponder your words. We don't all have to agree on everything to respect one another in Christ.


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