Well, there certainly is a lot of difference between the two following statements: 1) This means everlasting life, taking in knowledge [about God]...; and 2) This means everlasting life, knowing God...
Knowing someone is quite different from knowing ABOUT them. And here is just where JWs and the WTB&TS miss the point. Deliberately. If you can know God as a direct phenomena, why do you need even one other person, much less an entire organization, to know him?
This point is further clarified, as is the WTB&TS evil motivation, in the following mistranslation, also deliberate: "The kingdom of heaven is in your midst..." vs. "The kingdom of heaven is within you..."
If the kingdom of heaven is within you, then it is within your direct, unaided grasp to know this "kingdom" as a direct spiritual experience. Of course, the WTB&TS does not want you to have this understanding, because if God can be directly known, of what use is their damnable organization? Thus, they have deliberately mis-translated this (and many other) scriptures. God does indeed know of this, and I wouldn't want to be in the shoes of any of the governing body, nor of their accomplices when they are called on to answer for the load they place on their followers, the weight of which they are unwilling to even budge with the tips of their fingers.
As for the question as to whether the WTB&TS is a cult: If it walks, looks, quacks, and swims like a duck...well, you know. Let's look at the definition of what constitutes a cult and see if the JWs meet the definition.
There is an infallible leader or set of leaders. Check. The WTB&TS claims to speak for God, and their pronouncements in their publications are to be regarded as the very word of God.
The cult holds out an extravagant hope. Check. Life everlasting on a paradise earth. Soon.
Questioning, doubt, and dissent in a cult are discouraged or even punished. Check. How many articles have you seen in the WT, Awake, etc., discouraging in the most strident terms, independent thinking?
The cult is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself and its leaders. Check. JWs are God's chosen people, and the governing body is the "only channel of communication" that God is using today.
The cult has a polarized us- versus-them mentality, which causes conflict or isolation with the wider society. Check. It's the JWs against everybody else, all of whom are caught up in the "world empire of false religion."
The cult adopts special terminology designed to give its members a feeling of settled, advanced insight when use of its meaningless phrases actually stifle real knowledge - subsituting sloganeering for thinking. Check. "World emplire of false religion," and "Babylon the Great," for instance.
The cult's leaders are not accountable to any authorities. Check. The WTB&TS does not file even the "informational" income tax return, for example. Its finances are totally secret. Where DOES all that money go? Can YOU think of any authority the JWs are subservient to? (Don't say Jehovah. We know what a joke that is.)
The cult teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify means that members would have considered unethical before joining the group. Check. The WTB&TS has said in print that lying is an acceptable technique in their "spiritual war."
The leadership induces guilt feelings in members in order to control them. Check. I remember entire study articles in the WT dealing with how great guilt feelings are, zeroing in especially on one of the Psalms in which David states that his "sin is constantly before" him, and holding that up as an example for good little JWs.
Members' subservience to the cult causes them to cut ties with family and friends, and to give up personal goals and activities that were of interest before joining the group. Check. No illumination here is even needed.
Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group. Check.
Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members. Check.
I could go on further with this, but why bother? The organization of Jehovah's Witnesses is, and has always been, a cult. It is also a false prophet. Remember Deut. 18:20-22 and its comments about false prophets and what would happen to them?
In the WTB&TS publication "Jehovah's Witnesses In the Divine Purpose" the organization charges mainstream religions with revealing how they are false prophets and constitute a false religion by the fact that they will not come out and meet "Judge" Rutherford and others in debate in various halls that he had hired. Don't believe it? Get yourself a copy of the referenced publication if you can find one they haven't collected and destroyed. You will find the organization crowing very loudly about how this lack of willingness to debate proves how false they are.
I issue this challenge to the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses: I will debate any aspect of your so-called religion with any one or all of you at any reasonable time, at any reasonable place, in the same spirit as disclosed in your publication "Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose." You will be free to bring any publication, any "expert" of your choosing, and I will be able to do the same. I suggest a classical debate upon the proposition "Jehovah's Witnesses Constitute a Religious Cult." I will, of course, debate the affirmative.
I publicly accuse you of being false prophets, unworthy of notice, much less fear.
I publicly accuse you of constituting a false religion. And of operating nothing more than a publishing and real estate empire.
I publicly accuse you of the ruination of hundreds of thousands of lives and, in fact, of dealing to death - by your teachings - thousands of lives that did not have to be sacrificed to your illicit teachings.
I publicly accuse you of being what I have here proven: that you are a cult, not unlike any other two-bit cult to be found in their thousands on this planet.
And I publicly accuse you of being cowards who will NOT on any account accept this challenge. Proving for all to see that you are no more supported by God - much less that you are God's spokesmen - than I am the Virgin Mary.
You can accept this challenge at any time during the next 90 days from today, or until July 1, 2001 by posting your response as a new topic on this bulletin board. We all know you don't have the spine to do it.
And do you remember the contest between the priests of Jehovah and the priests of Baal? The priests of Baal couldn't make the fire come down and ignite the bonfire, but by their God, they did have the guts to show up. You won't.