Thinking about Matt 4:21......

by jula71 35 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • jula71

    I was sitting and thinking of what to write in a DA letter, as I've been inspired in a way by a letter I read today. And one thought I am putting in, is that I have a clean, clear conscience because I believe a loving and understanding God would know that I choose this path due to honest and sincere feelings about the organization. And I believe a loving God would not destroy a person based on that. But the then I thought of a scripture that has been used to show that even sincere will ones will be destroyed. Matt 4:21-23 " 21 Not everyone saying to me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name? 23 And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew YOU! Get away from me, YOU workers of lawlessness." To me that just does not make sense that God would kill people that truly believe they are doing the right thing. I believe that scripture is meant to show that people using God?s name for dishonest reasons would see adverse judgment. Any idea's out there?

  • LittleToe

    Might want to start with chapter 7

    Another interpretation of that passage of scripture is that it's not we do that counts, but who we've befriended. That kinda makes a little more sense to me - it's a bit hard to do something meaningful for your creator other than show Him back a little love in the simplicity of a cup of water - you received free, give free

  • yucca

    This is referring to Leaders of churches or anyone who teaches scripture falsely against the laws of God . Like deliberate misleading people like some on television or GB with false prophecies . I remember years ago a Pastor was selling insurance policies to heaven for 500 dollars on Television and I saw all these people going forward to buy them. It is some one like him that the Lord will say i never knew you. Hope this is helpful for you.

  • jula71

    ya...that's kinda along the lines I was thinking. But JW's use it to show why the followers of those would be killed as well.....

  • adelmaal
    the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will

    Personally, I feel that scripture is saying that just because we say we are doing God's will does not necessarily mean that we are doing God's will. If we are content to do things because the WTBTS says we should do them then whose will are we actually doing? We may believe we are doing God's will and the WTBTS may reinforce that belief but we are actually doing man's will and not Gods. We must each build a personal relationship with God and come to grips with what we feel he wants from us; we should not rely on any man to define that relationship for us. It is a vain effort to follow the rules of men when what we actually need to do is look to God. If we see that doing God's will differs from what man is telling us then we need to adjust our beliefs and actions to align them with God's will and not mans. For God to say, "I never knew you" would mean you never attempted to have a personal relationship with him.

  • Narkissos

    To me Matthew 7:21-23 is one of many instances of "gangland killing" between rival factions of early Christianity. It is targeted at Christians who call Jesus "Lord" and have a charismatic practice (prophecy, exorcisms, miracles), yet are deemed as lawless.

    What is at stake comes clear in 5:17ff:

    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.

    The big issue for the Matthean community is the practice of the Law as (supposedly) interpreted by Jesus. To them, those so-called Christians who think they can be saved by believing that Jesus is Lord, without the works of the Law, are seriously mislead. Whether they are completely damned or banished to the outskirts of heaven ("will be called least in the kingdom") remains moot, but the target is clear. And it fits perfectly the Pauline churches (cf. Romans), at least as those were perceived from a Jewish-Christian standpoint.

    The fact that both those texts (or James, for that matter) and the Pauline letters are part of the N.T. canon shows how difficult it is to tell "what the Bible teaches" on salvation.

  • Leolaia

    This passage has to be read in light of the community that produced the gospel and its end-world eschatology. Matthew originated in a Torah-observant Jewish-Christian community (cf. especially Matthew 5:17-20, 6:1-6, 16-18, 16:19, 18:15-18, 23:1-10) that expected a rather imminent arrival of Judgment Day (cf. 10:23, 12:39-45, 13:40-42, 16:28, 19:28, 24:30-34, 36-44, 26:64), during which humanity will divided into two groups: one receiving the kingdom of heaven, the other receiving eternal punishment in Gehenna. This genuinely Jewish and Christian concept should not be confused with the Watchtower doctrine about Armageddon, in which God simply kills off those who will not inherit an earthly kingdom.

    The point in Matthew 7:21-23 is that those who will be judged favorably are those "who do the will of my Father who is in heaven". Salvation from judgment is construed here as through works; it is not enough to confess Jesus as "Lord" to be saved (contrary to what is claimed in Romans 10:9-10), or to perform the kinds of works popular in the Pauline churches like prophesying or healing (cf. Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 11:4-5, 12:9-10, 28-30, 13:2, 13:9, 14:1-39). Rather, in a Torah-observant community, the kind of works that must be done are those demanded by the Torah (as interpreted by Jesus), which embodies God's will for his people. Thus, Jesus tells his disciples to "practice and observe whatever" the Pharisees tell them, but not to do what the Pharisees do themselves (i.e. false piety), and he advises them how to "perform acts of righteousness" (dikaiosunén poiein) in a way that is truly righteous (Matthew 6:1, 23:3). It is also made clear that "righteousness" is necessary for salvation and any doubts are dispelled about the Torah no longer being in force:

    "Think not that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all his accomplished. Whoever then infringes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men to do so (i.e. Paul), shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall 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" (Matthew 5:17-50).

    The point of view expressed here is strongly Torah-observant: (1) Jesus says that he has not come to abolish the Law (contrary to Colossians 2:14-18 and especially the deutero-Pauline Ephesians 2:15 which says that Jesus "abolished in his flesh the Law with its commandments and regulations"), (2) Jesus criticizes those who not only disregard the commandments of the Law but teach others to do so; this is exactly what Paul has done in teaching Gentiles that they are "not under the Law" and do not need to follow it (cf. Romans 6:14-15, 7:6; 1 Corinthians 9:21; Galatians 2:18-19, 3:25), (3) Jesus states that those who do follow the Law and teach others to do so will be "great in the kingdom of heaven". All of these points contrast the Jewish-Christian community that produced Matthew with the Pauline antinomians in the church who have abandoned the Law. But the next point contrasts the Matthean Christians with the Pharisees: (4) Only those who exhibit true righteousness in following the Law will be admitted into the kingdom of heaven. The false righteousness of the Pharisees is attacked in ch. 6 and 23 especially. The Matthean community is thus one that saw themselves in a niche between the false faiths of the antinomians who reject the Law and the Pharisees who follow the Law in the wrong way. This is exactly the position attributed to James and to other Jewish-Christians such as the Nazoreans and the Ebionites in later writings. It was commonly believed in these communities that Paul was a false prophet and apostate because he rejected the Law. Thus those who call on Jesus as "Lord" but do not do God's will are referred to as "workers of lawlessness" (hoi ergazomenoi tén anomian) in Matthew 7:23. Because they do not follow the Law, they are literally "lawless"; Paul himself said he as a "lawbreaker" (parabatén, Galatians 2:18), from the point of view of the Law. The description of them as "workers" of lawlessness is ironic in light of Paul's position on the value of works in justification.

    Other sayings of Jesus are interpreted in Matthew in ways that pertain to the church and likely concern the antinomians. The Parable of the Wheat and Tares in 13:24-30 (which is paralleled in Thomas 57:1 and partly in Mark 4:26-29) is interpreted uniquely in v. 36-43 as depicting the situation in the church and the interpretation claims that Satan has sowed false Christians into the church who will not be removed until the Son of Man comes and the lawless (anomia) are weeded out and thrown into Gehenna. There are several other sayings clustered in ch. 7 that make the same point as 7:21-23. In Matthew 7:13-14, the author refers to the "two ways" (a standard feature of Jewish ethical teaching) which those trying to enter the kingdom enter: the narrow and difficult gate leads to life and few make their way through it, while the broad and spacious way is easy and many follow it, tho it leads to destruction. The wide gate here fits naturally with much more popular law-free Christianity that was easier to follow than the author's Torah-observant Christianity which was definitely less popular among Gentiles. The next pericope describes false prophets as wolves in sheeps' clothing (7:15) and as "evil fruit" to be thrown into the fire of Gehenna (7:16-20); the contrast between the two groups continues the thought of the "two ways" described in v. 13-14. The passage in question then follows in v. 21-23 which continues the thought of v. 15 ("prophesying" = "false prophets"). The final pericope is that of building on rock vs. sand (7:24-27), and here again the critical factor is on doing what Jesus commands. Those who "hear these words of mine and does them" are likened to people who build "upon rock" (epi tén petran); against such a house the "rivers" (potamai) cannot inflict harm. The unique language in this passage is also reminiscent to the unique language in Matthew 16:18-19 which depicts the true church as "built" (oikodomésó, the same verb in 7:24) on either Peter or Jesus (the language is ambiguous) as "upon this rock" (epi tauté té petra), against which the gates of Hades (e.g. the subterranean waters of Sheol) cannot prevail. The rhetorical picture is that the true church (i.e. the Law-observant church doing the will of God) is built on a secure foundation, whereas the false church is built on sand and will fall when judgment comes.

    The statement in question thus most likely pertains to the early controversies of Christianity and reflects a vindictive eschatology (rampant throughout the gospel, in contrast to the others) which expects that the Lord will vindicate those who do the will of God and will punish with fire those who do not do God's will. In the two-ways ethic of apocalyptic Judaism, there is no other distinction beyond this binary division (e.g. humanity is divided on Judgment Day into sheep and goats). One must do what God wants as expressed in his Law and as explained by Jesus; those who don't do so, including both Jews who follow the Law incorrectly and Christians who don't follow the Law at all, are destined for destruction. This worldview is very different from Paul's beliefs on grace and the general antinomian view of the Western Gentile churches, who in turn rejected such Jewish Christians as "Judaizers".

  • A Paduan
    A Paduan

    Narkissos - do you have any particular reason for the inclusiveness of that statement in your hypothosis ?


    Jula71 - think of your soul - ie. the uniqueness that is you - it takes courage to be yourself, and hence, know yourself.

    Could you continually live the life that someone else dictates, eliciting directives that involve perceived threats of personal loss to you (subtly and openly)? Then who would you become ? Someone who may at anytime choose, not fidelity to others in life, but rather, a continual path of a perceived safe keeping or gain for themselves - and all the while further convincing themselves that they're "doing the right thing", or even "being courageous".

    These phrases come to mind

    • and he hid the talent under a rock but he didn't need to because
    • the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things

    away from me, I don't know who you are which is what I think when I meet jws, I do not know their intentions regarding me or my family's well-being, whether they would speak the truth, whether they could speak the truth, or whether they would marginalise our well-being - "turn us in" so to speak, in an effort to 'save' themselves (see Judas).

    I hear this story continually here, thread and post after post - people who can't trust people in their own family - and so it is they "don't know who they are"

  • peacefulpete

    Leolaia and Narkissos have already done a great job with the answer, all I can do is repeat that Matt comes from a community that not only practiced the Law but did so in a way they deemed more righteous than other practicing jews. They labled any who either misinterpreted the intent of the Law or belittled it as unnecessary as false prophets and fruitless trees. Even today most churches dismiss this obvious point when reading Matt 5 and it's lecture on adultery, murder, false testimony, and vows. The author was not saying that the Law was incorrect or incomplete but rather that it needed to be followed with a fuller understanding of the subtlties involved. These thoughts are not found in Mark at all and Luke apparently takes Matt and tones it down by ommitting the bulk of his material and reinterpreting the rest. The book may have been edited extensively to readdress most of the vitriole to the Pharisees when in fact the very message of the book is patent Pharisee.

  • A Paduan
    A Paduan
    Leolaia and Narkissos have already done a great job with the answer, all I can do is repeat that Matt comes from a community that not only practiced the Law but did so in a way they deemed more righteous than other practicing jews.

    Peaceful Pete

    I believe the answers are like a rehearsed type of jw response. Someone asked a question regarding opinion on Jesus' words - and the particular responses were a diversion to history. Are you saying that Jesus did not speak those words, and if so, what was he saying ? Your answer to that appears to be "there were factions of pharisee like people who wrote it" - but regardless, did Jesus not say it? If he did say that, would it matter if the hairbears repeated it?

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