Who's cooling off? Bible question for the day.
because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off." (Matthew 24:12)
I have a question about this phrase. The watchtower position on this is:
This cooling off of love is clearly reflected in the uncaring and self-centered attitude on the part of so many people today.
1989 WT 6/15 par. 18 in Cultivatin Christian Manners in an unmannerly world
Basically, this cooling off refers to the general attitude of the world today and not one specific group.
This is where my own thoughts differ. I always took this as meaning that, of God's people, the love, of the way of worship, of the greater number will cool off.
If this was the case, then God set up the majority to fail, because he knew right from the start that most will leave anyway. It also throws the JW teaching that God is saving armegedon untill the absolute most people will get in.
Any other thoughts on this? Am I totally off?
I believe that the "cooling off" also relates to Paul's words to Timothy about in the last days people would be "lacking natural affection." Yes, God's "NAME PEOPLE" would cool off and lack natural affection. We once taught from the platforms and door to door that lawlessness would be in the "world" - and those who said they "did wonders" in God's/Christ's name were not known, "get away from me you workers of lawlessness." Now, who do we believe says, "hey, we did this and that in God's name." Not only would there be a "cooling off" but also "lawlessness." In that light I see today's somewhat "civil" K.H. meetings in a short time going beserk with contention full blown and people disagreeing, people hauled out, men manning the hook as a means of maintaining the program's schedule. I'm not joking, PERHAPS people who post on these boards being involved with others, who at this point wonder what happened to their two tickets to paradise and a way out of here. The "house of God" is not immune. Doesn't Paul state that it starts there?
· Do Jesus? words that "the love of the greater number will cool off" mean that this will occur among true worshipers now?
With good reason we believe that Jesus was not foretelling a large-scale loss of love among Jehovah?s people.
The apostles had asked for ?the sign of Jesus? presence and of the conclusion of the system of things.? Jesus foretold wars, earthquakes, food shortages and persecution of Christians. He added: "Because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off."?Matthew 24:3-12.
Much of that prophecy found a fulfillment between then (33 C.E.) and the great tribulation on Jerusalem that the Romans caused in 70 C.E. (Compare Luke 19:41-44; 21:5-28.) During that interval, did the love of most anointed Christians cool off? No. Those who fell away from Christianity during that generation evidently were in the minority. Most Christians experiencing persecution from the Jews kept up "declaring the good news of the word," displaying love for God, for unbelievers and for fellow Christians. (Acts 8:1-25; 9:36-42) But love did cool off among the Jews, who claimed to be true worshipers. The greater number of them ignored Jesus? warning, revolted against Rome and resorted to a violent defense of their nation.
Jesus? prophecy extends beyond the first century and has its major fulfillment today. (Revelation 6:2-8) As with the Jews back then, people have less and less effective love. Millions have turned atheistic. Even in Christendom people tend to show less neighbor love, and church attendances and knowledge of the Bible generally are declining. Many who seem to be religious try to rectify human problems through political causes. So it apparently is among such claimed worshipers of God that love is cooling off.
True Christians, though, must not become complacent. Since some Christians in the first century lost their first love or were distracted from it by problems, we could find our love cooling off. (2 Timothy 2:16-19; Revelation 2:4) While, if that happened, we would be exceptions to most of Jehovah?s people, the fact that it could happen to us individually emphasizes our need to ?endure to the end? so as to be saved.?Matthew 24:13.
Just beautiful! "Endure to the end to be saved." No grace, just keep up the race! BTW, what precious volume did this come out of?
*** w84 10/1 p. 31 Questions From Readers ***
Sorry, Lawrence, cut the reference off.
While, if that happened, we would be exceptions to most of Jehovah?s people
Really? An exception? I guess my thought is that it says, "The love of the greater number will cool off."
But love did cool off among the Jews, who claimed to be true worshipers. The greater number of them ignored Jesus? warning, revolted against Rome and resorted to a violent defense of their nation
Was this revolution against Rome caused by an increase of lawlessness? I guess that it can be argued that revolution = lawlessness, but the passage doesn't say that they decided to become lawless. The lawlessness around them caused their love to cool off.
True Christians, though, must not become complacent. Since some Christians in the first century lost their first love or were distracted from it by problems, we could find our love cooling off.
I think this statement basically states what my uninformed interpretation to the scripture would be, except not "some Christians", the greater number of Christions.
I see today's somewhat "civil" K.H. meetings in a short time going beserk with contention full blown and people disagreeing, people hauled out, men manning the hook as a means of maintaining the program's schedule.
There's been more then once that I've wished I had a grasp on that hook! Eventually I got one and hooked myself right out of the hall.
Thanks for your thoughts, both of you.
Now in its original Matthean context I suspect this sentence (specific to Matthew) could well be an allusion to the success of Pauline and post-Pauline "law-less" Christianity, viewed as an "easy" and "cheap" treason of the Judeo-Christian or Nazorean Gospel (centered on the kingdom of God, v. 14, and radical "love").
And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness (anomia), the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Remember another Matthean text which many scholars perceive as an attack on Pauline Christianity:
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off." (Matthew 24:12)
I thought this had to do with gawd turning back the world's AC. Because of global warming I am most certain that we are not in the last days.
Narkissos....That text, from the Matthean Sermon on the Mount, is also critically informed by the following statement from the conclusion, which is perhaps most explicit in its allusion to Pauline Christianity, as it refers to those who call on Jesus as "Lord, Lord" (cf. Romans 10:9, 13; 1 Corinthians 7:10, 12, 12:3), who prophesy and perform works in his name (cf. Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:9, 28-30, 13:9, 14:5, 24, 31-39), and who view themselves as not under the "Law" (cf. Romans 3:28, 6:14-15, 7:4-6, 10:4; cf. Romans 3:31, responding to the allegation that he nullifies the Law):
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will (i.e. justification by works, not faith) of my Father who is in heaven. On that day, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you, depart from me, you workers of lawlessness (anomia)." (Matthew 7:21-23)
Among the Jewish Christians who believed that Jesus came to deliver new halaka to interpret the old Law (cf. Matthew 16:19, 18:18), for the Pharisees and scribes had hidden the original heavenly "keys of knowledge" which gave heavenly authority to interpretations of the Law (cf. Matthew 16:19, Gospel of Thomas 19:1-2), salvation did not come through faith alone (cf. James 2:14-23). Matthew, which represents the Jewish Christian point of view, emphasizes the importance of doing the "will of the Father" (cf. Matthew 6:1-18, 12:50, 16:27), and the same can be found in the Jewish-Christian gospels, such as the Gospel of the Nazoreans 6:1, which reads: "If you are in my bosom and do not do the will of my Father in heaven, I will cast you out of my bosom". There is an interesting parallel to Matthew 7:21-23 and the Gospel of the Nazoreans in 2 Clement, which depends on non-canonical gospel material:
"Let us, therefore, not just call him Lord, for this will not save us. For he says, 'Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will be saved, but only the one who does what is right.' So then, brothers, let us acknowledge him in our actions by loving one another, by not committing adultery or slandering one another or being jealous, but by being self-controlled, compassionate, and kind. And we ought to have sympathy for one another, and not be avaricious. By these actions let us acknowledge him, and not by their opposites. Further, we must fear more not men but God. For this reason, if you do not do these things, the Lord said, 'If you are gathered with me in my bosom, yet you do not keep my commandments, I will throw you out and will say to you: "Depart from me, you workers of iniquity (anomia)." (2 Clement 4:1-5)
This appears to harmonize the Jewish-Christian perspective reflected in Matthew and the Gospel of the Nazoreans with that of Paul, who apparently did explicitly claim that "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved ... If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord ... then you will be saved" (Romans 10:9, 13). The harmonization interprets the "commandments" or "will of the Father" as relating to Christian morality and not specific observance of the Law.
The perspective in Matthew 7:21-23, incidentally, radically departs from that in Mark 9:38-40 which stresses unity and not division among the followers of Jesus: "John said to him, 'Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.' But Jesus said to him, 'But do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is for us." The Matthean Jesus however has almost the opposite opinion -- he has such followers "depart" from him, creating a division between such "lawless" ones and his own "lawful" followers. Q/Luke 6:46-49 also reveals what the original text was before its Matthean expansion into Matthew 7:21-27; it has turned a mild admonishment into a harsh condemnation by drawing on a quite different logion in Q/Luke 13:24-27.
As for the meaning of Matthew 24:12, I think it refers to persecution from both Pharisees and former Christians (thus "betraying" their former friends, v. 10), who in the Jewish-Christian context of the gospel are those who have returned to Pharisee Judaism and thus take part in the expulsion of Christians from synagogues, previously described in Matthew 23:34: "Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town." This fact is clear from the parallel between 24:9-13 and 10:17-23 (as well as 23:34)
"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness is increased, most men's love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved" (Matthew 24:9-13).
"Beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake....Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes" (Matthew 10:17-18, 21-23).
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! ... I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town" (Matthew 23:29, 34).
As you can see, the three texts are connected to each other by shared themes and phrasing. So I think the reference to "love growing cold" is likely that of those who defect from Jewish Christianity back to Pharisee Judaism and take part in the Pharisee persecution of Christians at the beginning of the second century A.D. However, I do agree too that the reference to "false prophets" and anomia in Matthew 24:11 is possibly oriented to Pauline Christianity as well, considering the linkage betwen "prophecy" and anomia in Matthew 7:21-23. It is possible that the author is criticizing both extremes, e.g. those who no longer follow the Law and those who follow it in the wrong way and persecute the disciples of Jesus.
Leolaia, thanks for this enlightening post. I had only five minutes online when I made the previous one, and as soon as I left I thought I should have quoted 7:21ff!
However I would somewhat resist your interpretation of 24:12, for the following reasons (of admittedly unequal weight):
1) I doubt SMt would have accused pharisaism of anomia ("lawlessness"). This is the very term which, according to your own interpretation (which I agree with), is applied to Pauline Christianity in 7:23. This meaning would also suit 13:41 quite well; of course anomia is also applied to Pharisees in the thematic discourse of chapter 23 (v. 28), but I would tend to consider this occurrence as secondary (targeting later Pharisaism as a strawman against which "Christianity" may unite, which was not the earlier Matthean perspective).
2) I doubt SMt would have called the Pharisees pseudoprophètai ("false prophets," v. 11, 24). Such prophets are conspicuously absent from the parallels you quote in chapters 10 and 23. On the other hand, the term does apply to Pauline missionaries according to our interpretation (7:15,22).
3) Hoi polloi in 24:12 are not just "most men". The phrase seems to reflect the quasi technical use of ha-rabbim in Qumran literature (ultimately based on Daniel), as applying to the faithful community (cf. the anarthrous, and so less formally characteristic, uses of 20:28; 24:5,11; 26:28). In verse 24 the eklektoi, "the chosen ones", are the target of the false prophets. This implies a global danger for the judeo-Christian community, which I think would suggest the post-Pauline teaching rather than Pharisaism in a 1st-century context.
4) The "Gospel of the kingdom" in v. 14 is not the Pauline or proto-Catholic Gospel, and its being given "as a testimony to all the nations" is not the same as preaching to the Gentiles (cf. 8:4; 10:18).